BLUE UNDERGROUND 4K BLU RAY RELEASE: The House by the Cemetery (1981)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I love this movie so much that it’s been on the site at least three times. Well, thanks to Blue Underground, it’s four thanks to their new blu ray re-release. Beyond the best that this movie has ever looked — and will probably ever look, until they figure out how to beam it directly into your skull — you get an entire disc full of extras, such as new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, deleted scenes, trailers and extras like: 

Meet the Boyles – Interviews with Stars Catriona MacColl and Paolo Malco

Children of the Night – Interviews with Stars Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina

Tales of Laura Gittleson – Interview with Star Dagmar Lassander

My Time With Terror – Interview with Star Carlo De Mejo

A Haunted House Story – Interviews with Co-Writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti

To Build a Better Death Trap – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Maurizio Trani, Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, and Actor Giovanni De Nava

House Quake – Interview with Co-Writer Giorgio Mariuzzo

Catriona MacColl Q&A

Calling Dr. Freudstein – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

There are also trailers, a TV spot, posters and image galleries. 

You can get this Blue Underground release from MVD.

Here’s the first time I wrote about this movie on February 26, 2018.

The House by the Cemetery is one of my favorite films ever. I cannot defend its lack of story, the fact that it’s influences are pinned to its sleeve or that it makes little to no sense. The first time I watched it — at a drive-in marathon that also included Zombi 2 — was an experience that burned the film into my brain.

The beginning will grab you in seconds, as a woman searches for her boyfriend in an abandoned house. She finds him dead, stabbed with scissors. Just then, she’s stabbed in the back of the head and the blade of the knife comes out of her mouth! We see her dragged away as the movie begins.

Meanwhile in New York City, Bob Boyle (Giovanni Frezza, Warriors of the WastelandManhattan BabyDemons) and his folks, Norman (Paolo Malco, The New York Ripper, Escape from the Bronx) and Lucy (Katherine MacColl, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond) are moving to the abandoned house we saw in the beginning of the film. Sure, Norman’s friend Dr. Peterson killed his mistress and committed suicide there, but why would that be a problem?

In one of the eeriest scenes in the film, Bob looks at a photo of the house and notices a young girl moving from room to room. This is the most subtle of all frights, a small moment where reality is not as it should be, and far more potent than even the goriest of grue that Fulci will soon serve up with glee. Only Bob can see this vision, which warns him to stay away.

As his parents get the keys to the house, Bob sees the girl again. Inside the rental office, Mrs. Gittleson (Dagmar Lassander, Hatchet for the Honeymoon) is upset that the couple has the Freudstein keys to Oak Mansion, but she promises to find a babysitter from Bob.

The mansion is a mess. Yet when the babysitter (Ania Pieroni, Inferno) comes, she enters the previously locked and nailed-shut cellar door. Strangeness follows, like a librarian recognizing Norman despite never meeting him, the discovery of a tomb inside the house and a bat attack.

The Boyles demand a new house as Norman goes to the hospital. Mrs. Gittleson comes to tell them that she’s found a new property, but the Freudstein tombstone in the ground holds her while a figure stabs her in the neck. The next morning, Ann the babysitter cleans up the blood and avoids questions.

While the Boyles are at the hospital to treat Norman’s injuries from the bat, Mrs. Gittleson arrives at the house to tell them of a new property. Letting herself in, she stands over the Freudstein tombstone, which cracks apart, pinning her ankle. A figure emerges, stabs her in the neck with a fireplace poker, and drags her into the cellar.

The next morning, Lucy finds Ann cleaning a bloodstain on the kitchen floor while eluding Lucy’s questions about the stain. As they drink their morning coffee, Norman tells Lucy that the house was once home to Dr. Fruedstein, who conducted horrific experiments in the basement. He decides to go to New York City to learn more and on the way, he finds out that Freudstein killed his old friend Peterson’s family.

Ann can’t find Bob, so she goes to the basement where Freudstein slashes her throat and decapitates her. Bob finds her head and screams, but his mother refuses to believe the story. Bob goes back to the cellar but gets locked in. His mother tries to open the door, which can’t be unlocked. Norman returns and they make their way down to see Freudstein’s hands holding Bob. One axe slash later and the hand is cut off as the monster goes away to recover.

Inside the basement, Norman and Lucy find mutilated bodies, surgical equipment and a slab. Turns out that Freudstein is 150 years old and has learned to escape death. He returns and attacks Norman, who returns the favor by stabbing him. The twisted doctor replies by ripping out Norman’s throat. Lucy and Bon try to escape, but Freudstein drags her down to the basement where he rams her head into the floor until she dies.

Finally, the doctor grabs Bob, who is rescued by Mar and her mother, Mary Freudenstein. Mary tells them that it’s time to leave as she leads Mae and Bob down to a world of gloom and ghosts. The film ends with this quote:

House by the Cemetery is a mash-up of FrankensteinThe Amityville Horror and The Shining. And it’s another in the series of classics that Dardano Sacchetti (working with Giorgio Mariuzzo here) wrote for Fulci. If you think it’s nonsensical, imagine how early American audiences felt when the original VHS copies released in the U.S. had several of the reels out of order!

Seriously, this movie makes no sense whatsoever. There aren’t plot holes because there’s not even a plot. And sure, some say there’s too much gore. Yes, I’ve heard these complaints and I say no to all of them! Look, you’re either going to become an evangelist for this film (if you meet me in person, there’s a good chance I’ll have on a t-shirt with this film’s logo, I wear the shirt all the time) and you’ll think it’s the biggest piece of garbage ever made.

Here’s the second time I watched this on January 19, 2020.

Have I ever told you how much I love Lucio Fulci?

Oh, I have? Like, thousands of times?

Like when I talked about this movie a few years ago?

And when I talked about Don’t Torture a Duckling?

Or when I talked about his deeper cuts, like ConquestMurder Rock and The Devil’s HoneyAenigmaContraband and Perversion Story?

Yeah, I love me some Fulci.

So this review isn’t going to be objective.

You have no idea how happy I am to own the 4K version of Fulci’s classic Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero. Blue Underground has been releasing some astounding versions of Fulci’s masterworks this year, such as Zombie and The New York Ripper. Now, they’re giving the same high quality treatment to Dr. Freudstein and, of course, little Bob.

Norman and Lucy Boyle (Paolo Malco, Thunder and Catriona MacColl, who is also in Fulci’s City of the Living Dead and The Beyond) have just left New York City behind to live in the country, which Norman will work on the same research that his friend Dr. Peterson was undertaking — you know, before he went nuts and killed his mistress and himself.

Why should Norman tell his family that they’re moving into such a frightening house? He can just scream at his wife and demand that she start taking her pills again when he isn’t exchanging sex eyes with Ann the babysitter (Ania Pieroni, Mater Lachrymarum!).

70’s scream queen Dagmar Lassender (The Iguana with the Tongue of FireHatchet for the Honeymoon) shows up as a real estate agent, Fulci himself appears as a professor and Giovanni Frezza owns the film as the female-voice child Bob Boyle. You’re either going to hate Bob or love him. I belong to the latter camp. Frezza also shows up in Warriors of the WastelandDemons and Manhattan Baby.

Hey Blue Underground — I’m the only one asking for it, but where’s the 4K Manhattan Baby?!?

I adore this movie because it’s really all over the place. It’s kind of, sort of The Amityville Horror by way of The Shining while also being a zombie picture and at other times, becoming a slasher. Dr. Freudstein is a mess, falling apart, losing his hand and killing everyone Bob loves for reasons that are left up to you — the viewer — to define.

It also ends up a great quote — “No one will ever know whether the children are monsters or the monsters are children” — that is attributed to Henry James but really came from Fulci. I have no idea how it ties to this movie at all and I’ve watched this film potentially hundreds of times.

I’ll be honest — I first discovered this movie at an all-night drive-in series of zombie films. I wondered why it was part of the show and thought that it surely would suffer compared to the other movies shown that evening. I was completely wrong.

One thought on “BLUE UNDERGROUND 4K BLU RAY RELEASE: The House by the Cemetery (1981)

  1. Thanks for sharing the trailer for this one. Reading along I vaguely remembered it but the trailer sparked my memory. The thing I remember most is the screams and the trailer provided several of them. The 80’s were the best. The best slashers, the best music, and movies in general.

    Like

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