The House by the Cemetery

03/14/2018 07:40

Film: The House by the Cemetery (Quella villa accanto al cimitero)

Year: 1981

Director: Lucio Fulci

Writer: Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo and Dardano Sacchetti

Starring: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco and Ania Pieroni



This film starts showing us a cemetery and then it goes to the nearby house. Inside we see a woman putting her shirt back on, Daniela Doria. She is looking for her boyfriend, who is missing. She ends up finding him, he is dead. She is then attacked by someone as well. She is also murdered.

We then shift to looking at the house in a picture. A boy, Giovanni Frezza, notices there is a little girl in the window, which looks like she is screaming. His mother, Catriona MacColl, looks at the picture and it is different. After she leaves though, it goes back to the way that Frezza is seeing it.

MacColl’s husband is Paolo Malco. He is a doctor and he is taking his family to a remote village to do research. His wife isn’t overly happy about this move, but she is still going to be stick by him. They get there and learn that the house they were supposed to be staying in is no longer available. They are given another one though. It turns out to be the same one from the picture back in New York. During all of this, they leave Frezza in the car. A little girl, Silvia Collatina, is looking at a mannequin in a window that looks oddly real. The head comes off and it is bleeding. She also reaches out to Frezza and he realizes she is the girl from the picture. She gives him a doll that was hers.

They start to unpack and oddly that day a woman shows up, stating she is a babysitter. She is Ania Peironi. One of the real estate people also comes and they are killed while everyone is gone. She is pulled into the basement.

That first night, Malco finds a folder for a Dr. Freudstein. He opens it to find that it is empty. He then hears crying and checks on Frezza. He is asleep, but he still hears it. He then hears something like wood being pulled. He goes to check it out and finds Pieroni undoing the boards into the basement.

Malco the next day goes to a local library where he is going to take over research for a colleague who killed himself in this town. The man who shows him to where the notes were left confuses that Malco was here previously with his daughter. Malco informs him he’s never been to the village and he has a son.

Back at the house, Frezza is playing with Collatina outside in the cemetery. It is here that there is a grave for a Mary Freudstein. Collatina informs him that she isn’t really buried there. In the house MacColl finds a spot on the floor where there is marking for Dr. Freudstein.

There is then an odd moment where MacColl and Malco are attacked by a bat from their basement. Can they figure out what is going on in this house before it is too late? Is there is something in the basement? How is Dr. Freudstein involved in all of this? Did he have a part in the suicide of Malco’s colleague? What about the girl that only Frezza can see?

I had heard about this film as being a part of the Gates of Hell trilogy, which I had only seen one of the films. Prepping for a podcast had me watching all three of them. I unfortunately think this is the weakest of the three, but I still enjoyed parts of it. I thought the reveal at the end kind of became a little obvious the way that the film presents the story. That was part of my issue with the film. This one really doesn’t carry the same mystic as the others do, which is what I really liked about them. It never really explains why what we learn at the end happens, it is just kind of told to us. The film does carry some cool kills, but some of them really don’t seem to connect too much of anything. Some just seem to be there to build up that count. I also don’t see how the family could live in this house when they constantly hear a child crying. The ending was cool, but I am slightly confused about what happens at the very end.

The acting of the film is okay. MacColl I think is a solid, but she really doesn’t get a lot of screen time. She also seems to be shopping every single day for groceries which confused me. Malco was fine as the one that is doing all of the research to give us the reveal. I didn’t mind that part of the film. Pieroni was weird. First off, why was she there? Why would a family who doesn’t who know just let her live there? That doesn’t make sense. Frezza’s acting was fine, but the voice that they dubbed for him was absolutely annoying. Collatina’s character is out of place, but her acting was fine. Giovanni De Nava also portrays Dr. Freudstein and he did that just fine.

There is one big plus I can give the film is the effects. Director and co-writer Lucio Fulci I can say in all of the films from him I’ve seen, that is one thing he doesn’t overlook. Again I was impressed with the deaths that were done in the film and they look pretty real to me. The editing of the film needed some work though. The story was confusing, which I’ve come to expect from Italian films from the era, but this one seems worse than the other two films in the trilogy. I just don’t like how they reveal at the climax. I feel that some of the useless scenes in this film could have been trimmed and adding more investigation to allow us to learn what is happening. The other bright spot and trademark of Fulci films is the score. This film has a creepy film from the music selected.

Now with that said, I feel that this film is weakest in the trilogy, but still above average. I wouldn’t call this one a zombie film per say. It also really doesn’t have anything to do with the Gates of Hell like the other two do. The story is really lacking some development. I liked the climax, but not how it was revealed. The acting was hit or miss, with some being good and others not so much. The effects and the score of the film are really good though. The editing definitely could have used some work, but part of that falls on the story as well. If you like Italian horror, Fulci or this review still sounds interesting, I’d give this film a chance. If not, go ahead and avoid this one.


My Rating: 6 out of 10