House By The Cemetery

House By The Cemetery (1981)

Cast: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco
Extras: Lucio Fulci Biography

I’ll try to avoid getting on my Lucio Fulci soapbox and get right into reviewing the DVD of ’House by the Cemetery’. Forget the videotape that was released in the U.S. under the same title. This is the uncut version of Lucio Fulci’s 1981 film. The source of this DVD is reportedly a laserdisc produced by a company called EC, which was available only in Europe. The film is letterboxed at 2.35:1, but is unfortunately not formatted for 16×9 TVs. The picture is clear and very sharp, showing a very fine amount of grain. There are some obvious defects from the source print, such as dirt on the film and noticeable splices in the film. There is some flickering of the image at times. The colors on the images are fairly good, with only a few scenes looking washed out. The bottom line is that for a second-generation copy of a low-budget Italian film from twenty years ago, the image looks pretty good. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Stereo. With this, we get clear and audible dialogue, with a slightly noticeable hiss on the soundtrack. The incredibly annoying music is also comes across quite well.

While the quality of this DVD may sound questionable, please keep in mind that the retail price for ’House by the Cemetery’ is $7.99. Yes, you read that correctly. Diamond Entertainment put out unwatchable versions of films such as Tobe Hooper’s ’Eaten Alive’ and ’Pieces’ in the past, so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this DVD. Actually the only low-point on the DVD presentation is the film synopsis on the back of the box, which reads as if it were written by a first grader. The only extra on the DVD is a biography of Lucio Fulci, which is short but concise.

As for the film itself, ’House by the Cemetery’ is one of Fulci’s better works. However, take that statement with a grain of salt, as I’ve never been a big Fulci fan. ’House…’ concerns a family which move into the Freudstein Mansion in the town of Whitby, which is right outside of Boston. Dr. Boyle (Paolo Malco) has come to Whitby to continue the research started by a deceased colleague. With Dr. Boyle comes his wife Lucy (Fulci regular Catriona MacColl) and their son Bob (Giovanni Frezza, who sounds as if his voiced was dubbed by a 34-year old woman). Despite the fact that Bob is sorely in need of a haircut, Dr. Boyle conducts his research while bizarre things such as basement doors that lock themselves and bat attacks occur in the house. (The bat attack is so long and gratuitous that is should make the members of Monty Python blush.) Meanwhile, there’s a tombstone in the middle of the living room floor and occasionally a murder takes place in the house. As with most of Fulci’s work, this one sounds better on paper than it really is.

Still, ’House by the Cemetery’ is full of creepy shots, most concerning the ghostly Mae and the strange nanny Ann, and there is a real sense of atmosphere to the film. (I’ve always wanted to see this film remade.) So, for you Fulci fans or fans of Italian horror in general, this DVD from Diamond Entertainment should be hard to pass up.