Lucio Fulci’s movies have always had a visionary, dream-like feel to them, despite being grounded firmly in what has come to be known as gore. This offering from the Italian B-movie maestro was arguably the last of his best, as his career went into steady decline due to health problems and the bad press the so-called “video-nasties” were getting (several of his films were classed as such).
House by the Cemetery doesn’t make a lot of sense narratively by today’s standards, it feels as if some information is missing, and the final ‘revelation’ is as surprising as it is slightly nonsensical; a couple of narrative strands are not fully explained – but it does not really matter as the characters die a gory death anyway.
In any case, the plot holes aren’t terribly important, and actually contribute to the overall dream-like feel of the movie. The sound (by which I mean the dubbed voices of the actors), can be frustratingly infuriating, their voices sounding as if they are reading a script with ‘acting’ voices rather than naturalistic tones, yet it is possibly this very aspect which transports the viewer deeper into Fulci’s visionary, unrealistic world. The director’s notorious slow-motion close ups of gore are given plenty of space here, and it is not so much titillating or exciting as the video-nasties scaremongers of its day would have you believe. Rather, the lingering close-ups contribute to a de-glamorisation of the death scenes, where the viewer partakes of the ebbing away of the characters’ lives.
For gore fans everywhere, it is still amazing to witness the amount of detail and convincing (and at times icky) special effects that could be achieved on a small budget.
House by the Cemetery has creepy children, a creaky old house with a secret, mysterious deaths and plenty of eerie atmosphere. I’d say that’s enough reason to add this to your DVD collection – in your ‘horror nostalgia’ section.
DVD extras The extras offered here are an informative documentary about the career of the director with a decidedly North American angle (plenty of footage from his last public appearance at a Fangoria convention), one deleted scene, which amounts to some lost footage without sound which was found relatively recently, and a picture gallery. The film is only available in the English version and there don’t seem to be any subtitles.
The House By The Cemetery is out now.