Director – Lucio Fulci
Cast – Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander, Giovanni De Nava
Release Year – 1981
I have always been a fan of Fulci’s work, the “Godfather of Gore” is one horror director that I highly admire not only for what he has done for the genre, but simply because I enjoy his films. The third film in his “Death Trilogy”, House By The Cemetery is a genuinely gory flick with an interesting plot that unfortunately suffers from plot holes and some poor execution.
The film follows Dr. Normal Boyle and his wife Lucy Boyle. One of Dr. Boyle’s colleagues, Dr. Peterson, has mysteriously committed suicide and is alleged to have brutally murdered his mistress as well. Being the researcher that he is, Dr. Boyle brings his wife and son, Bob, to the home Dr. Peterson was staying so that he can complete Peterson’s work. Little does the family know, the home they are staying in has a dark past, one that has kept tenants from residing in the home for years. As Dr. Boyle slowly begins to understand what Dr. Peterson he learns of Dr. Freudstein, the home’s original owner. The real horror begins when he learns that Dr. Freudstein had a knack for illegal and very gory experiments, all of which were carried out in the home’s cellar. A killer with a knack for dismembering his victims is on the loose, and the answer lies in the cellar of the Freudstein house.
I really wanted to like this film, really. Fulci’s work has always been pleasing to me, and the feel of his flicks is one I do not get from other directors. The storyline is an interesting one, and is the biggest reason why I enjoyed this film the amount that I did. It kept me interested with the allure of eventually finding out what was going on in the cellar of the Freudstein house. Unfortunately, this storyline also came with some plot holes that I am unable to forgive. For one, we were not given any real background regarding the babysitter Ann. The direction that was focused on her character during her scenes gave me the impression that she played an important part in the plot, whether it be the history of the home or something else. We were never given any real insight into her character, which I balked at given we got quite a few scenes focusing on just her and leaving us to be very suspicious of her character(you have to see it to understand). My biggest complaint with this film’s plot was the scenes involving people seeing Dr. Boyle at the town previously, even though he claimed to never be there in his life. I thought this was interesting at first, because well…it is, but once again this was never explained and seemed ultimately like it was just thrown in there to weird us out. Hell, maybe Fulci got lazy and just left it alone. Regardless, it was a waste of effort and left me sour. There are more little tidbits I can pick on that made absolutely no sense in this flick, but let’s move on.
Fulci’s direction in this film is 50/50. The gore scenes were awesome, as they always are, and the score was pretty damn sweet as well. If there are two things Fulci always does great, it’s his gore and his music. Remind you of Dario Argento much? Heh. Aside from this I really did not like his direction too much throughout the rest of the film. It seemed amateurish, and although this film did not have the biggest of budgets, he has done more with the same budget. The pacing for this flick is a little off as well, and does seem to drag at times. If not for the kills scenes we get scattered throughout this piece this flick would have definitely been a bore. Another thing I did not enjoy about this film, which goes under both writing and direction as that we do not get any good action from the killer until the final movement. Because this is a Fulci flick, you should already assume that this film’s killer is an awesome one, and he sure is. I love the look of him, and really wish that we would have gotten more action from him, and not had to wait an hour and twenty minutes to finally see him in action. Had we gotten more from this killer I may have been able to forgive some of this film’s plot holes, but that is of course not the case here.
Overall, this is a mediocre watch that I would only suggest you view if you are a fan of Fulci’s work or want to view his complete “Death Trilogy”. Years ago I saw this flick for sale at a bin in Sam Goody for I believe $1(yes, ONE DOLLAR!), and now I know why. I still should have bought it though, because I LOVE Fulci. Heh.