Home 1980s The House by the Cemetery (1981)

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

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Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life!

Directed by Lucio Fulci and starring Catriona MacColl as Lucy Boyle, Paolo Malco as Dr. Norman Boyle, Giovanni Frezza as Bob Boyle, Ania Pieroni as Ann, the babysitter and Silvia Collatina as Mae Freudstein. Also stars Teresa Rossi Passante as Mary Freudstein and Giovanni De Nava as Dr. Jacob Tess Freudstein. Lucio Fulci himself has a small role as Professor Muller, wonderful!

The third film in Fulci’s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy and one of the 39 ‘video nasties’ successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act in the 1980s; what a fucking joke! Now, I can accept the prosecution of a film that contains animal cruelty such as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) although I know there are people who will disagree with me on that, but The House by the Cemetery, really? It may well be a little gory for some people, I can accept that, but… Anyway, let’s not drag up all that.

This the ArrowDrome release (not the Arrow Blu-ray unfortunately, not yet anyway, I do intend to get that) and I’m really happy with it. I’m not 100% sure that it’s completely uncut, as far as I know it’s all there. I’m pretty sure.

Dr. Norman Boyle takes over the research of his colleague and friend Dr. Petersen who hanged himself and slaughtered his mistress. Boyle, his wife Lucy and son Bob go to live in the isolated mansion where Peterson lived (the house by the cemetery). Bob meanwhile has befriended a little girl called Mae who only he can see. Boyle begins to learn about a Dr. Freudstein who Petersen was absolutely terrified of. No more about the plot, this film needs to be experienced.

Gore, atmosphere, simply beautiful music, I love this film to death. Yes, it’s dubbed, and quite badly (Bob!), but that just adds to its charm, it’s part and parcel of the times. I could spend a week trying to fault this film and not be able to. I even love Fulci’s weaker films and this, one of his very best if not the very best, is up there with The Exorcist ’73 to me and I recently put that film at number one in a top ten of my all-time favourite films.

The House by the Cemetery drips with atmosphere from its outset to its conclusion, one of my all-time favourite endings by the way, the cast are superb and the gore is so well done, considering its age especially, it puts a lot of films to shame I can tell you. Even by today’s standards the gore, and actually everything else, is fantastic. It still stands up, and that’s simply fucking amazing, just like The Exorcist, it still stands up.

How many times have I enjoyed this film? I really have lost count. There’s something about Fulci at his best that just never gets old, just gets better. You know, sometimes I think to myself that Fulci was a better director than Argento or Romero or whoever, his best work defines, to me anyway, what a horror film should look and feel like. I know there are goofs and various other things people can pick on but perfection maybe is sometimes flawed.

An ultra-gory film isn’t necessarily a good film, not to me, I want the whole package. I want to see a masterpiece, and The House by the Cemetery is a masterpiece. It could easily be remade but it will never be equalled.

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