Lucio Fulci, "The Godfather of Gore" went out on a limb with this one; way out. Although he does open the film with a perky set of cans (and do I like my Italian flicks to open with young flesh for my eyes to dine upon - or a nice skyline of New York City coupled by a funky disco beat.) Here we are watching a young woman (Daniela Doria) button up her shirt and look for her lover in a deserted house. She finds her lover alright - seemingly impaled to the cellar door by scissors. She screams and takes a butcher knife to the back of her head like a champ! This sequence sets the tone for 'House By The Cemetery
'. Cue Credits: The music is effectively creepy as we soak in the image of this ominous home. We then ZOOM IN to the front of the house and see a little girl in the window who appears to be troubled. The image is frozen and the camera pulls out to reveal that it is a framed picture in a family's New York flat.
Enter Little Bobby (Giovanni Frezza) aka Little Lord Fauntleroy. He seems fixated on this picture as his mother Lucy (Catriona MacColl) tries to gain his attention. Bobby then claims that the little girl was speaking to him and warning him to stay away from that house. For starters, this kid's voice sounds like it was dubbed by the same fuck who dubbed Pippi Longstocking - super annoying. So, this family that we're introduced to is moving to New Whitby, Boston for six months; so that daddy, a professor named Norman (Paolo Malco) can carry on the research of another professor who has killed himself. The work to be continued is regarding a late nineteenth century scientist named... Dr. Freudstein, who was expelled from the medical community in 1897 for abnormal practices. Later we find that the killer in the house is actually Freudstein; who is keeping himself alive by regenerating his cells from his victims.
So, the family settles into this house and "bizarre occurrences" begin - oh, and the butchering too. Here is a small list I compiled when you know it's time to bounce from a new residence in a horror movie.
1.) Headstones in the front yard - dead giveaway.
2.) A tomb is found underneath a rug centered in the living room.
3.) Faint sounds of children crying can be heard within the home.
4.) A boarded up cellar door that contains one blood-thirsty bat (and other ghastly things...)
5.) A Professor who previously resided there and went mad after the death of his wife and child and, in turn, committed suicide.
6.) A zombie in the cellar.
While the dad tries to unravel this mystery, the body count rises in Fulci fashion. The little ghostly girl witnesses a store-window's mannequin head fall off and spurt blood (which resembles the babysitter). Norman gets into a slap fight with a 'Halloween Store' bat and nearly loses. The real-estate agent gets her foot stuck in the crack of the floor tomb and her torso stabbed with a fire poker - then her neck. The slutty, drug-induced babysitter (Ania Pieroni) takes a knife to the throat a few times and loses her head in the cellar. Norman gets his throat bare-handed by the zombie and ripped off - oh the latex! Don't get your hopes up, but I won't even mention how Lucy bites it. Personally, my favorite scene is when Dr. Freudstein gets knifed and tons of maggots pour out! All-in-all, Little Bob manages to escape from the showdown in the cellar through the break in the tomb lid - with the help of his ghost girlfriend Mae Freudstein (Silvia Collatina). However, once out of the cellar, Bob finds himself trapped in the spirit world along with Mae's Mother, Mary Freudstein (Teresa Rossi Passante) who welcomes him. What the fuck? Huh? Okay, let me quote Fulci here from an interview regarding 'The Beyond
' and 'House by the Cemetery
"...my idea was to make an absolute film...there's no logic to it, just a succession of images."
I find that this film is quite irrational and experimental. It did not leave me with a whole helluva a lot and it definitely takes its cues from 'The Shining
'; however, if you're a Fulci fan you'll find entertainment in the form of gore, music, set production, atmosphere - and even mild suspense. But that is why we love these films. The ticking time bomb underneath the dinner table that awaits our guests...
THE STORY: Interesting premise - too many holes and open-ended stories for my liking.
THE DUB: Terrible - and not even charming.
THE GORE: Fair.
THE MUSIC: Excellent dreary score. Piano theme conjures pain, sadness and loss.