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Creepy flick; best seen in its newest restoration.

  • Jan 28, 2012
*** out of ****

"The House by the Cemetery" is an exceptional example of a movie so bad that it's actually pretty good; perhaps even great. Under the direction of Lucio "Godfather of Gore" Fulci; it's a film plagued by boring characters, narrative incoherence, a slew of illogical situations, silly dialogue, and fame by way of the Home Video market. Okay, maybe that last one isn't so bad; given it's more of a fate, and not one that all films are lucky enough to meet. In my experience, people only like a movie if there's something about it if they like; because you cannot like, love, or even despise something without reason. The films of Fulci are often noted for three things: their gore, their atmosphere, and their surrealistic qualities. "The House by the Cemetery" is really no different when compared to Fulci's other works.

Here's what I've learned to do. I come into these movies with an open mind now; something I was unable to do when I had first begun discovering them. Yes, as a critic; I'm not supposed to like movies like this, because in theory, they are trashy, and nothing more. Indeed, there are few redeemable qualities to any of Fulci's films, other than that they can be immensely enjoyable as long as you're able to suspend your disbelief. We're expected to do that with just about every other film, so, why is it so difficult to do it when it's absolutely necessary?

"The House by the Cemetery" had me hooked and entertained because it displays all of what I've come to expect from the great gore-master. I've come to believe that Fulci is a poet of the macabre; and his films are all about style and the basic set-up of horror rather than substance. That's a logic that has always been prevalent in horror; but it seems to have been abandoned as of late for bigger, better things known as story and characters.

To me, the story is almost unimportant. But here's the basic run-down; a family of three - Lucy (Catrionna MacColl), Norman (Paolo Malco), and son Bob (Giovanni Frezzi, who has the most annoying voice EVER in the English dub of the film) - move from their city home in New York to somewhere a little quieter. The house rests just outside of Boston; and it is, indeed, a house by the cemetery.

However, upon arrival, it becomes very clear that something just isn't right about this particular homestead. The sound of a whimpering, unseen child is heard each night and sometimes in the day. The door leading to the basement is barricaded by boards conveniently nailed right on it. Also, every board in the house - be it in the basement, in the walls, or in the attic - creaks non-stop. It's enough to drive anyone mad.

However, a great evil lurks underneath the floorboards. There is a damn good reason why the basement is sealed off; and why the house gives off an ominous aura. That reason is Dr. Freudstein; a tall, horrifically deformed man who went bat-shit crazy and became an amateur surgeon of some sorts. It is said that he died and was later buried; but this could be a cover-up for the fact that he still maintains existence. Of course, this is a very predictable movie; so from the beginning his name is mentioned, we know for a fact that Freudstein is still alive; operating on helpless victims and their tender flesh, while those above resume the day's typical activities.

Even though it's a simple, on-dimensional horror story; it has its peculiarities. Lucio Fulci can make films both fascinating and unintentionally hilarious; such a formula is employed here, and to me, it works. "The House by the Cemetery" is a stupid, senseless film; made without wit or intent other than to shock through gore and jump scares. But it's also a film that now works as a sort of Midnight Movie; and if you look at it from that perspective, then it kind of works. It's been given a new, polished transfer from Blue Underground - and now, you can see it as it was meant to be seen; without some half-assed English dub, with restored images of Giannetto De Rossi's fantastic make-up/gore effects, Walter Rizzati's creepy original score, and Lucio Fulci's full devotion. I'd say it's one of the director's best; and whether that means anything to you or not depends on how much you either love or loath the famed voyeur of the grotesque.

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review by . September 05, 2009
The House by the Cemetery was another film in Lucio Fulci's Lovecraft phase of film making. I wish he had stuck to this genre because he was quite good at it. Just like his other films, these were made on a modest budget and filled with several nasty set pieces. The style this time is unique for Fulci (thanks to tight direction). Bizarre and complex, even some of Fulci's most jaded critics will respect his directing in this one. Filmed in New England (interiors were shot in Italy) and for the first …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Final chapter of Lucio Fulci's homage to H.P. Lovecraft.

Exteriors were filmed in Massachusetts and the interiors were filmed in Italy.
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Director: Lucio Fulci
Genre: Horror
Release Date: August 14, 1981
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Lucio Fulci
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: Fulvia Films
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