Thursday, March 26, 2009

House by the Cemetery (1981, Lucio Fulci)

Directly following Fulci's masterpiece, The Beyond, was House by the Cemetery. Continuing on with the theme of supernatural zombies started by City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, House by the Cemetery does have some differences too. The main difference is the setting. Almost the whole film is set in the house referenced in the title. I actually had this movie for a long time on one of those cheapo 10 movie sets but put off watching it until I picked up a copy put out by Anchor Bay, a double disc set with The Beyond - mainly due to Anchor Bay's history of releasing the best possible versions available.

House by the Cemetery is the story of - don't be shocked folks - a house by the cemetery. The Boyle family move into this house, which we find out was once the home of the mysterious Freudstein family. As it turns out, the basement in the house seems to be boarded up and after opening it, Mr. Boyle (Paolo Malco) and Mrs. Boyle (the yummy Catriona MacColl, yet again) are attacked by a very stubborn bat and decide to leave the basement alone. Their son Bob starts seeing a girl who lives across the street who tells him about the house and how Mrs. Freudstein was buried in the basement. Mrs. Boyle sees the tomb under a rug (?!?) and thinks nothing of it. Soon, it is uncovered that there is someone or something living in the basement and that if you go down there, you're fucked.

A step down from The Beyond, House by the Cemetery has a pretty slow start. Most people would probably lose interest early on which is a real shame. The last half hour is one of the scariest of any film I've ever seen. The claustrophobic feel of the house's basement, where most of the action takes place is pretty terrifying. The evil lurking down there is scary as hell and makes for a great adversary to the Boyles (and anyone else entering the basement). It's a shame so little happens in the first hour of the film, but if you give it a chance you will find yourself breathing into a paper bag held in one hand and cheering with the other for more of Giannetto De Rossi's brilliant makeup effects.

note: I just found out that the house in this film is located in my state! Honey, feel like visiting your uncle in Scituate?



  1. Starmummy: Just watched this movie via your review, and I must say I loved it. My favorite scene, I think, was the bat attack, which I am sure is the longest bat attack in the history of cinema! Plus, that bat seemed to have more blood in it than most small pigs. I was very impressed with Fulci's ability to create atmosphere - everything seems like some dank nightmare. He has something I really look for in a film maker: a great sense of style. You go, guy. Keep the reviews coming. Next in my netflix que is "Cat of Nine Tails" (The Beyond was not in stock, dammit, but it is "saved" for when it is available) --Mykal from Radiation Cinema!

  2. Yeah, the bat attack was classic. Glad you liked it. Fulci's films have something special in them. He is one of my favorite directors. Let me know what you think of Cat O' Nine Tails when you watch it.