It’s Rusty as All Get Out

The House by the Cemetery Review

The House by the Cemetery poster

After years of running this site, I have a confession to make. Even though I’ve taken the last name “Fulci” for my on-site persona, I have actually missed out on quite a few of the films made by my namesake, the maestro himself, Lucio Fulci. One that I actually have seen in the past, however, is his 1981 flick, The House by the Cemetery. Read on to see how revisiting this one went, years after my initial viewing.

The Plot

After the death of his colleague, and despite the warnings from his young son, Norman (Paolo Malco, The New York Ripper) moves his family to a house in Boston to work on a research project. It doesn’t take long for Norman to find out the truth of the horrific past of the house and its prior occupants.

My Thoughts

Within minutes of pressing play, The House by the Cemetery greeted me with breasts, the mutilation of boyfriend Steve, and a stab straight through the head. This shockingly bloody scene is one that is almost synonymous with a lot of these old school Italian gialli and proto-slashers, and especially the work of Lucio Fulci.

While this bit of violence managed to catch me off-guard, simply because of how quickly it occurred, it wouldn’t be until about 50 more minutes had passed that I would be seeing any more gore in this rather slow-moving 1981 supernatural slasher flick.

The House by the Cemetery, the third in Fulci’s “Gates of Hell trilogy,” is similar to other entries in the director’s storied filmography in many ways. For example, the characters aren’t very deeply developed and the story itself isn’t very involved. This doesn’t make the film any less entertaining, however.

I am guilty of finding a lot of the works of all Italian directors to be a bit boring at times. Even the best from Fulci, Argento, Bava, and more have their slower moments, but each filmmaker was always able to keep enough of their signature touch intact from to make each film enjoyable in one way or another.

Fulci in particular was known for his very dark tones and violent scenes of chock full of gore. That is no different in The House by the Cemetery. While it does take some time to see much of it in this film — after the initial scene, that is — when it does arrive, it is both gruesome and exquisite all at once.

The practical effects used throughout the film are the real reason fans would want to watch The House by the Cemetery more than once.  Everything from chopped-off limbs and decapitated heads to eviscerated torsos and ripped-out throats look terrifyingly realistic.

The House by the Cemetery at Home

As they’ve done with many other releases over the past year or so, Blue Underground has given The House by the Cemetery a beautiful makeover. Their new limited edition 3-disc set will be available this Tuesday, January 21. This wonderful new Blu-ray home release features a brand new 4k transfer of the 86 minute film and tons of extras.

The film is presented in stunning 1080p HD widescreen 2.41:1 format and contains English 5.1 DTS-HD, English 1.0 DTS-HD, and Italian 1.0 DTS-HD audio tracks, in addition to optional English SDH subtitles.

In addition to the myriad of cast and crew interviews that they’ve ported over from their 2011 home release, Blue Underground, in conjunction with Red Shirt Pictures, has conducted and included brand new interviews with the film’s co-writer, Giorgio Mariuzzo, author Stephen Thrower, and more.

Lastly, the original motion picture soundtrack by the talented Walter Rizzati is also included, as this release’s third and final disc. There is also a collective booklet containing an essay by Michael Gingold and a gorgeous new lenticular slipcover.

The House by the Cemetery looks and sounds better than it ever has, so you do not want to miss out on owning this Blue Underground set.

The Verdict

The House by the Cemetery holds an important place in Italian horror cinema history. Where it may lack in depth, it makes up for it in blood flow and ferocity.

The cast all perform their roles successfully enough and while the dubbing for the American market leaves a lot to be desired, particularly in the case of eight year old Giovanni Frezza’s “Bob,” it is still worth it to see Catriona MacColl return to yet another Fulci film. The House by the Cemetery marks her third film with the maestro after her work in both City of the Living Dead and The Beyond.

Be sure to grab yourself a copy of Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery, as I give it 3.5 hidden indoor tombs out of 5.

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