House By the Cemetery (1981)
By: Rip on August 5, 2015 | Comments
Cinema Cult | Region Free | 2.35:1, 1080p | English LPCM 2.0 | 86 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Elisa Briganti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Dardano Sacchetti
Country: Italy
Norman (Paolo Malco) and Lucy Boyle (Catriona MacColl) are packing their belongings to relocate from New York to a small town in New England, when their son Bob (Giovanni Frezza) experiences a bizarre communication from a little girl seen in a photograph depicting a derelict house. The communication is in fact a warning to him not to go there. But Bob's parents make their move to New England, taking a lease on an isolated old house nestled by a cemetery. A house that looks exactly like the one seen in the photograph. Norman convinces a none too thrilled Lucy that their stay is a temporary one whilst he completes some research in to the apparent murder/suicide of an old college mate and raises the capital to finish renovations back at their New York apartment.

But soon after their arrival, the little girl from the photograph (Silvia Collatina) appears in real life and a series of strange and disturbing incidents begin to manifest…

Lucio Fulci's House By The Cemetery is considered part of the director's 'Gates Of Hell' trilogy (along with The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead) and tends to be thought of as the lesser of the three. The film is also generally considered one of the lesser entries in the Italian director's horror output. This reviewer actually considers it to be just as much fun as many of Fulci's horror films, with other entries being far more deserved of that 'lesser' status. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining certainly appears to be an inspiration here - the premise is similar; a couple with a young son (who has supernatural abilities) move to a remote location so the husband can finish writing, but their plans are thwarted when the previous owner of the house makes his presence felt - though other than this and some other basic horror tropes, House By The Cemetery is still pretty much its own blood-drenched spook flick.

And of course, it wouldn't be a Fulci horror film if it didn't come with some of his trademark gore and this one features some of his best graphically violent set-pieces, courtesy of make-up SFX artists, Gianetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani. Gooey stuff aside, there is also a wonderful melancholic atmosphere hanging over proceedings, making it one of the director's most haunting films. The superb widescreen cinematography by Sergio Salivate also deserves a special mention, as does Walter Rizzati's terrific score. The story as written by Elisa Briganti, with a screenplay by Georgio Mariuzzo, was allegedly inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the movie certainly does display gothic overtones reminiscent of Lovecraft.

But like much of Fulci's horror output, the clunky aspects are once again here (though admittedly, things mightn't be as much fun without them). Illogical moments abound and things don't often make a lot of sense. But then, one could argue that the supernatural doesn't have to comply with logic.

Performance-wise, the delightful Catriona MacColl is as solid and believable as always. This was the British actor's third and final film for Fulci (having also appeared in the other two instalments of the 'Gates Of Hell' trilogy), and she brings a much needed humanity to the film. Unfortunately, she's surrounded by weak performances and dreadful dubbing. The absence of a strong leading man is also a major drawback to the film's overall success. Paolo Malco is certainly no David Warbeck (Warbeck is one of the stronger points in Fulci's The Beyond), and as the Boyle's son Bob, Giovanni Frezza is unfortunately saddled with one of the worst dubbing jobs ever heard (though there is nothing wrong with the little fella's performance). In fact, it may well be the worst dubbing job of all time (Frezza even apologises for it in one of this Bluray's extras!) and it almost cripples the film. It's patently obvious that the character of Bob has been voiced by a middle-aged woman trying desperately to sound young and the end result is ghastly. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray doesn't come with an Italian language option, so one has no choice but to endure it.

Overall, if the viewer can overlook these issues, Lucio Fulci's House By The Cemetery is a lot of creepy (and gory) fun. I don't really believe it to be a lesser entry in Fulci's horror canon as many do, and it's certainly far and away superior to some of his later clunkers.

The Disc
Presented uncut in the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, the Blu-ray image here is a huge step up from its DVD counterpart, but is still not without a few issues. The overall image is a little soft, though still crisper than the DVD. This an old, low budget film from 1981 and looks it sometimes; for example the light can oversaturate on occasion. Thankfully, there is no digital noise reduction and the image never looks artificial. There is light scanner noise, but generally this high definition transfer is pretty decent. Colours look good (especially the blood) and there is no edge enhancement to report of.

Audio is presented in uncompressed English PCM 2.0, but unfortunately the Italian track that comes with Arrow's release is missing here, so you'll have to grin and bear Bob's dubbing. Most of the actors are speaking English anyway. Otherwise, the audio is clear and stable given the film's age and budget. There are no subtitles included for this release.

Cinema Cult's Blu-ray of House By The Cemetery is a port of the release by British cult movie company, Arrow. It contains many, if not all, of that version's worthy extras and are as follows:

Audio Commentary - with Silvia Collatina and Mike Baronas.

Back To The Cellar - a 14 minute interview with Giovanni Frezza.

Cemetery Woman - a 30 minute chat with Catriona MacColl.

Finishing The Final Fulci - a just under 10 minute conversation with SFX artist and director Sergio Stivaletti, who discusses The Wax Mask, a film based on a story by Dario Argento which Lucio Fulci was slated to direct in 1996 before his passing a few weeks later.

Fraudstein's Follies - an interview with SFX artist Gianetto De Rossi, running just under 10 minutes.

Ladies Of Italian Horror - the pick of the bunch here, running for around a half hour and featuring interviews with Silvia Collatini (House By The Cemetery), Stefania Casini (Suspiria/Bloodstained Shadow) and Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria/The Sister Of Ursula).
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
For fans of Lucio Fulci and European horror in general, House By The Cemetery is an essential purchase. It marks the penultimate decent film film by the Italian horror maestro (his last true gem being New York Ripper) and Cinema Cult's local Blu-ray release is a great way to experience it in all its gory glory.
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