original title: Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero
aka: Zombie Hell House
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina
Beware the demon forces of the… blood beasts
The professor Norman Boyle is taking over the research that Dr. Petersen left behind after he murdered his woman and ended his own life. Norman brings his wife and their son to the estate where they are expecting to spend the next six months together while Norman is working.
When they get close to the house, their son gets some strange visions of a little girl who warns him about the dangers of moving into this house. His parents brush it off as childish imaginations, but when they do move in they start to experience supernatural events and it becomes clear to them that everything isn’t as it should be in the house by the cemetery.
Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery has been put together with The Beyond and City of the Living Dead as a part of an unofficial Gates of Hell or zombie trilogy. I can see why, as their films do share some of the same visual look, but for me this film stands a part from the others in story, although the ending does make the comparison stand ground.
I first saw this film on VHS at a very young age and it might even be the first Italian horror film I saw. Sadly, it was a crappy and cut to pieces VHS release and I can’t say the experience was very fun. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t taken the time to revisit it in the later years, even though I have seen and enjoy most of the other known Fulci horror films several times since.
Even if the story isn’t very straight forward on The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, they work well within the surrealistic universe they are set in, but I think that this film would work much better with a coherent story. A big problem for me is that I had trouble adding my own imagination to the story like I did with the two other movies and instead my mind started to wander away in the slower scenes of the film.
The good scenes are the “horror” scenes, which are quite gory and shocking at times. I didn’t care much for the look of the monster and have seen better work in the past. There are also some strange surrealistic scenes and some very spooky atmosphere, which works because of the talent of Fulci behind the camera and a nice score by Walter Rizzati. I also watched this with terrible English dubbing, which never helps a film either.
The dubbing also hurt the characters and worst off is young Giovanni Frezza who played the young kid Bob. His character has become legendary for being so terrible over the years and even though I haven’t seen it with an Italian audio track, I am willing to bet that the dubbing should get a lot of the blame for making the character so terrible. The other characters aren’t anything memorable, even though it has the lovely Catriona MacColl in one of the leading roles.
The House by the Cemtery didn’t do much for me as a child and it didn’t do a lot for me today as an adult either. It has some good effects, some nice visuals but in this one I wanted a better narration and story. Fulci fans should still find enough to enjoy in it to make it a must buy, but for the average horror fan I would rather recommend the other known Fulci films instead.