The House By The Cemetery DVD Review
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Lucio Fulci, Elisa Briganti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Dardano Sacchetti
1981, Region 2 (PAL), 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 7th May 2012
Catriona MacColl as Lucy Boyle
Paolo Malco as Dr Norman Boyle
Giovanni Frezza as Bob
Ania Pieroni as Ann
Silvia Collatina as Mae Fraudstein
Dagmar Lassander as Laura Gittleson
The third instalment of Lucio Fulci's unofficial 'Gates of Hell' trilogy (see City of the Living Dead and The Beyond) is a Frankenstein's monster of sorts. By snatching body-parts from the likes of The Shining and any number of seventies splatter-gore movies, The House By The Cemetery has secured an unnaturally long shelf life as a kitsch fan fave.
Since the movie's release in 1981 it's been banned, cut, uncut and labelled a video nasty, and now thanks to this re-release spit-polish it can continue to lumber on into a new decade and towards a new generation of horror fans. Can it still scare today's desensitised youths? Let's delve into this recently resurrected Euro-horror and find out.
Straight off the bat it's clear that Fulci never intended for our pants to be pooless during this fright-fest. We're instantly transported to classic-scare territory following a vulnerable looking woman who is wandering through a cobweb-strewn house. As you can probably guess, her brains don't stay un-splattered for very long and it's this grizzly event that sets the scene for the remainder of the movie.
Cut to New York City and we meet Bob, a kid who's plagued by visions of a young girl warning against his parent's planned move to the very same doomed house. As with all horror movies, his parents ignore his seemingly crazy advice and in doing so soon discover that their new home has a dark secret shuffling around behind its cellar door.
While similarities to The Shining are at times rife (think of Bob as an annoying sounding, more European-looking Danny Torrence), it's the extreme scenes of violence that give this movie its character. Death by fire poker, a bloody attack by a determined bat and some nasty looking throat cuts are what you'll take away from this shocker.
It's undoubtedly clear that Fulci's intentions were to gross you out and at the time of its release that's exactly what this movie did. It was banned and cut so much that securing an untouched print was like finding a quid on the floor — unlikely and dead exciting. Fan whispers made it an underground gore-hit, however by today's standards fans will probably stick this DVD on for a laugh more that anything else.
Unfortunately, Human Centipedes and dodgy Hostels have raised the bar too high for this flick to vault with a straight face, although the OTT bloodbath sequences graciously peppered throughout the film will keep your attention until its nail-biting final moments. What's more, its revelatory climax still manages to leave you gawping — proving that there's still life lurking in The House By The Cemetery.
Video and Audio:
All things considered they're both great - print is top-notch and audio still pops.
They're great. In addition to a trailer and TV spot (both of which are suitably foreboding) there's an hour-long Lucio Fulci trailer reel and previously unreleased deleted scene. However the highlight of bonus disc is a half-hour Q+A with a handful of surviving cast members including an all-grown-up Bob (Giovanni Frezza) and his creepy girlfriend Mae (Silvia Collatina). While the panel could have greatly benefited from some extra mics the hosts do manage to pry some interesting stories out of the cast, including memories of shooting and director Fulci's unpredictable on set behavior. An interesting watch.