House By The Cemetery (aka Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero)

JUNE 21, 2007


Reward: One (1) new copy of this Lance Henriksen movie called The Garden (I won it from a contest and they sent me two) to anyone who can explain what the fuck is going on at any point during House By The Cemetery. Not since The Demon has a Horror Movie A Day movie baffled AND borderline bored me so much, sometimes even simultaneously.

First off, before the ranting, I must give props to Lucio Fulci. Unlike most directors, including Americans, he chose NOT to fake Massachusetts in North Carolina or Canada, and instead actually filmed IN Massachusetts! Boston and Concord to be precise. I recognized it immediately, and even if I had any doubt, there’s a shot of route 62, an obscure Mass route that no one would know to put in (as opposed to routes 95 or 93, which everyone knows) if they were faking my beloved home-state. Bravo, Fulci!

He also delivers on the title right from the start. Many “House” movies are borderline lying when it comes to their title: House of 1000 Corpses is more like Tunnel Of A Dozen Or So Corpses; that show House is usually at a hospital, and House of the Dead (Boll) doesn’t even HAVE a house! But Fulci delivers in the first scene of the film. We see a House, and it is indeed By a Cemetery. Sadly, the cemetery never factors into the movie. Much like, well, come to think of it, almost nothing in the movie factors into the movie.

No one goes into a Fulci (or any Italian horror) movie expecting 100% coherency. I myself usually only expect around 70% tops. But even by those standards, this movie is fucking baffling. I kept thinking my DVD “remaining time” display was broken, because there was apparently only 2 minutes to go and none of the many plot threads had been resolved. Indeed, some of them never even got really started, just sort of hinted at and then forgotten entirely. The suicide of the professor? The fact that everyone in town seems to remember our “hero”, Norman, living there before with a daughter? The real estate agent giving him and his wife the cold shoulder when they see her in town? The blood-filled mannequin that looks like the useless babysitter character? Why no one seems to notice any signs of a struggle after every “blood spraying everywhere” style death? How a character can drive up to the house when no one’s home, get killed, and not leave her car behind for the owners to discover? The entire conclusion? If you want answers to any of these Microsoft grammar check hating questions, you best look elsewhere. Good luck.

But nothing in the film is as confusing as whether or not the main character is a boy or a girl. Its name is “Bob”, so we can assume it’s a boy, but it is dubbed by what sounds like a teenaged British girl. It is, without a doubt, the worst voice in a movie (dubbed or not), ever. Every time the little bastard speaks, you will want to kill him. I’m not joking. And not that I expect any award winning dubbing when I watch an early 80s Italian movie, but come on! It sounds absolutely nothing like a child, a boy, or even a human being at times. He also has longer hair than most females.

Keeping with the theme(s) of the alleged storyline, none of the post sound editing makes any sense. A shot of Norman calmly walking around the house has heavy stomping (and out of sync) sounds accompanying it. A character is dragged down a flight of stairs and each time their head hits a step we hear what sounds like a shovel being whacked against a large piece of sheet metal. The music is OK though, and there are occasional lines of dialogue that make the whole thing worthwhile, such as "Mommy said you're not dead. Is that true?"

But even Fulci seems to be phoning it in. His direction seemingly consisted of “Just keep zooming in and out”. Worse, no one is on the receiving end of ocular damage. There are a couple of throat slashings and a totally ridiculous bat attack, but that’s about it. Oh there’s also a kill at the beginning (like every other scene in the movie, it has little or nothing to do with the other scenes) where a knife goes in the back of a girl’s head at a 45 degree angle and comes straight out of her mouth. Fine.

Way back, when I reviewed Dario Argento’s Opera, I said that I had seen very few Fulci movies, and that I liked them all, so I was afraid to see more because I was bound to eventually be disappointed. Well, here it is.

What say you?


  1. oh man! of course you'd be hating on house by the cemetery. i love this movie (obviously: it is garabage).

    the best part of the movie is that the little kid is named bob! BOB! who calls their like, 6 year old "bob"? why not robby or bobby or whatever? that my friend is your real question here.

    also the fact that the doctor is named freud-en-stein and that there is a bat attack-- well, that's what does it for me. i love this movie. even if it is kind of craptastic.

  2. Bob has a girl's voice to foreshadow his suffering the same fate as the little girl buried in the cemetery who appears to him in visions. Alternatively, maybe he has a girl's voice because no one with an acceptable voice was available. The first professor killed himself because he went mad under the influence of the undead Dr. Freudstein and dismembered his children, or maybe because he discovered that Dr. Freudstein had dismembered them.

    Fulci's horror movies are nightmarish, in that they are incomplete, causally incoherent, and sometimes seem to go on for much longer than they really do. The viewer has to suspend logic--not just disbelief--to enjoy them. One of the chief pleasures in them is trying to connect dots that splattered onto the screen from a sloppy but lovable imagination, knowing there is no right answer.

  3. Did you win your copies of The Garden from Bloody Disgusting? I was a winner in their contest and also was suspiciously sent two copies. Considering how horrible the movie was, I think they sent extra copies to people to get rid of it as quickly as possible...As for me, I just sold both of them after seeing how dumb the movie was.

  4. Anyway. about the movie...It seems the professor/dad had been there before, and the girl they thought was his daughter was Anne the babysitter (which is why they keep exchanging weird looks, and why she randomly showed up at their house). As to why he was there before, I haven't the slightest idea.

    And as for Bob, I wanted to kill him at first but now he's my favorite thing about the movie. From that annoying voice to his fish-lips, that kid is just as entertaining/disturbing as Peter Bark. I also love how he'll just randomly show up in various other italian movies, like Demons, Blade in the Dark ("You're a female!"), and even Warriors of the Wasteland, where he kicks ass alongside Fred Williamson. Nowadays, he's apparently a dentist, but no matter what he does or what I see him in, I just see Bob.

  5. I didnt realize he was in Demons... I'll have to look for him.

    And yeah, it was B-D, before I worked for them. Stupid Garden.

  6. I was just rereading your review and remembered something I read about the film a while back. You mention that the film has none of Fulci's trademark "ocular damage". Apparently Fulci did in fact film a scene of the real estate lady getting her eye gouged, but cut it out because the effect wasn't realistic enough. Why the man who featured the most fake looking tarantulas in film history in The Beyond cared about realism now I'm not certain....

  7. This movie may not have made sense in many ways, but I still loved it. It had a dreamlike atmosphere at times and the house itself was pretty creepy. A couple of the deaths scenes were well done I thought.

  8. Totally agree with everything you said except I actually like the movie, don't love it, but like it. Bob's voice is extremely annoying. The nanny for some reason I found to be extremely hot, insanely hot, even though she was never portrayed as being some hot nanny, she just was, probably at least part of the reason I like this movie.


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