THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1981) Reviews and overview

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Blue Underground is releasing a 4K remastered special edition of Lucio Fulci-directed 1981 Italian horror movie The House by the Cemetery with a three-disc set. Legendary poster artist Enzo Sciotti designed the new cover artwork and a 1080p HD trailer has been created to promote this release (see below). Buy:

Disc One (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:
New! Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
Deleted Scene
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spot
Poster & Still Galleries

Disc Two (Blu-ray) Extras:
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 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
New! House Quake – Interview with Co-Writer Giorgio Mariuzzo
New! Catriona MacColl Q&A
New! Calling Doctor Freudstein – Interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

Disc Three (CD):
The House by the Cemetery Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Walter Rizzati
Bonus! Collectable Booklet with a new essay by Michael Gingold

The release will also feature a reversible sleeve and a 3D lenticular slipcover (first pressing only); it’s due out January 21st, 2020. Buy:


‘Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life.’
The House by the Cemetery – original title: Quella villa accanto al cimitero – is a 1981 Italian supernatural horror film directed by Lucio Fulci (Manhattan Baby; The New York Ripper; Dracula in the Provinces; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Giorgio Mariuzzo and Dardano Sacchetti, based on a story by Sacchetti’s wife, Elisa screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-14-36-42Briganti (Manhattan Baby; A Blade in the Dark; Zombie Flesh Eaters).

The film was produced by Fabrizio De Angelis (Zombie Holocaust; Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals) for Fulvia Film. The notable score is by Walter Rizzati.

It is the third instalment of the unofficial ‘Gates of Hell’ film trilogy that also includes City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. The plot revolves around a series of murders taking place in a New England home–a home which happens to be hiding a particularly gruesome secret within its basement walls.

House By the Cemetery was belatedly released in the United States in 1984 by Almi Pictures.


In the UK, the Videomedia ‘Vampix’ VHS release was on the infamous 1980s ‘video nasty‘ list, despite the film having been shown in cinemas in a BBFC cut version.

After many years of censorship issues, all previous cuts were finally waived for the 2009 Arrow Video DVD. The same company released the film on Blu-ray on 26 June 2017.


Buy Blu-ray:

The film was released by Blue Underground on Blu-ray (as well as a new DVD edition) on 25 October 2011 with a new 2K transfer and the following special features:
Meet the Boyles (1080p, 14:12): Interviews with Stars Catriona MacColl and Paolo Malco
Children of the Night (1080p, 12:13): Interviews with Stars Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina
Tales of Laura Gittleson (1080p, 8:51): Interview with Dagmar Lassander
My Time with Terror (1080p, 9:16): Interview with Star Carlo de Mejo
A Haunted House Story (1080p, 14:02): Interviews with Co-Writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti
To Build a Better Death Trap (1080p, 21:32): Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati, Special Make-up Effects Artist Maurizio Trani, Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, and Actor Diovanni De Nava
Deleted Scene (480p, 1:01): Bat Attack Aftermath
Trailers (1080p): International (3:24) and U.S. (1:48)
TV Spot (480p, 0:32)
Poster & Still Gallery (480p, 2:21)


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The movie stars

Catriona MacColl (Horsehead; Chimères, The Beyond), Paolo Malco (Midnight KillerThe New York Ripper; The Cat’s Victims), Ania Pieroni (Fracchia vs. Dracula; Tenebrae), Giovanni Frezza (DemonsManhattan Baby; A Blade in the Dark), Silvia Collatina (Murder Rock; The Great Alligator) and Dagmar Lassander (Monster Shark; The Black CatForbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion).


In a seemingly abandoned old house, a young woman (Daniela Doria) is looking for her boyfriend Steve, after they enjoyed fleshy fun together. After she discovers his body stabbed with scissors, she is then stabbed in the head with a French knife, and her body is dragged through a cellar door.

In New York City, a boy named Bob (Giovanni Frezzi) and his parents, Norman and Lucy Boyle (Paolo Malco and Catriona MacColl), are moving into the same house. Norman’s ex-colleague, Doctor Peterson, who murdered his mistress before committing suicide, was the previous owner. The Boyles are to stay there, whilst Norman researches old houses. As his mother packs, Bob looks at a photograph of a house and notices a girl in it.

In New Whitby, Boston, Bob waits in his parents’ car while they collect the house keys. The girl from the photograph appears across the street. The girl, Mae (Silvia Collatina), whom only Bob can see, warns him to stay away. In the real estate office, Mrs Gittelson (Dagmar Lassander) is annoyed when her colleague hands the couple “the Freudstein” keys. She insists it is called “Oak Mansion”. Gittelson promises to find the Boyles a babysitter.


Oak Mansion is in a poor state of repair. The cellar door is locked and nailed shut. A woman arrives and introduces herself as Ann, the babysitter (Ania Pieroni). That night, Norman hears noises and discovers Ann suspiciously unblocking the cellar door.

The next day, Norman goes to the library to peruse Peterson’s materials. The chief librarian, Mr. Wheatley (Carlo De Mejo), appears to recognize him. but Norman claims he is mistaken. The assistant librarian, Daniel Douglas (Giampaolo Saccarola), then informs Norman that Peterson conducted private research at the house. He studied records of area disappearances and other demographic data.

Mae shows Bob a tombstone on the grounds marked “Mary Freudstein” and says she is not really buried there. Indoors, Lucy finds the tombstone of “Jacob Tess Freudstein” while sweeping the hallway. When Norman returns, he reassures her that some older houses have indoor tombs because of the hard wintry ground. Norman opens the cellar door and walks down the stairs, only to be attacked by a bat, which won’t let go until he stabs it repeatedly.


Spooked, the family drives down to the real estate office and demands to be re-housed, but are told it will be a few more days before they can move. While the Boyles are at the hospital to treat Norman’s injuries from the bat, Gittelson 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. Ann eludes Lucy’s questions about the stain.


Over coffee, Norman tells Lucy that he’s discovered that Freudstein was a Victorian surgeon who conducted illegal experiments. Norman must travel to New York to research Freudstein. On the way, Norman drops by the library and finds a cassette of Peterson’s, which explains Freudstein is his family.


Ann goes to the cellar looking for Bob, but Freudstein decapitates her after slashing her throat. Bob sees Ann’s head, and exits screaming. Lucy refuses to believe Bob’s tale about Ann.


That evening, Bob returns to the cellar looking for Ann but gets locked in. Lucy hears Bob’s cries and tries to open the cellar door. When she cannot open it, Norman returns and attacks it with a hatchet. The rotting hands of Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava) appear and restrain Bob. Norman cuts the monster’s hand off, and he staggers away, bleeding.


Norman and Lucy finally get into the cellar, which contains several mutilated bodies (including Ann, the realtor, and the couple from the beginning of the film), surgical equipment, and a slab. Freudstein is a living corpse with rotting flesh. Norman tells Lucy that the 150-year-old Freudstein lives by using his victims’ parts to regenerate blood cells.


He attacks Freudstein, but the ghoul twists the hatchet away. Freudstein picks up Norman and rips his throat out. Lucy and Bob climb a ladder leading to the cracked tombstone. Lucy strains to shift the stone, but Freudstein grabs her and drags her down the stairs. Freudstein kills Lucy by ramming her head into the concrete floor.

As Freudstein advances up the ladder, Bob strains to escape. As Freudstein grabs Bob’s leg, he is suddenly yanked upwards by Mae. With Mae is her mother, Mary Freudstein (Teresa Rossi Passante), who tells them it’s time to leave. Freudstein leads Mae and Bob down the wintry grove into a netherworld of ghosts and sadness.


” …with its array of zooms, point-of-view shots and extreme close-ups, Fulci’s direction is focused and incredibly specific, allowing Walter Rizzati’s delectably colorful score to be in charge of the film’s tone. Considering the amount of concepts and oddities that Fulci tries to cover in his Lovecraft-inspired tale, the fact that Rizzati, Salvati and editor Vincenzo Tomassi even achieved a thematically cohesive film is a true achievement.” Fangoria



“The gore is too much of a spectacle to be truly frightening. And neither is the film structured or paced in a way to provoke tension or terror. Instead, the shots are held for too long, showcasing mangled limbs and decaying corpses, though few do this better than Fulci. And for all its theatrical acting, annoying children and gore! gore! gore!” Flickering Myth


“Although the distribution of menace and innocence have been reshuffled and displaced, the characters in Sacchetti’s script suggest a glancing degree of attention to James’ narrative design. Lest we get carried away praising the subtlety and restraint of House by the Cemetery, it must be stressed that the film’s physical violence, when it does occur, is top-notch brutality in the Fulci/De Rossi tradition.” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

Buy Beyond | |

“Inattentive viewers have always complained that Fulci’s infernal trilogy are incoherent texts, filled with dangling plot threads and unexplained leaps of logical faith, which indeed they are. Putting that down to rank incompetence, though, would be to mistake technique as the lack thereof and consistently misconstrue the sense of the playful and surreal that runs through even Fulci’s most graphic and brutal films…” Slant magazine

“Bits of Amityville and The Shining, plus every other imaginable mad-scientist, screaming-in-the-cellar, haunted-house horror cliché, cut and stuck together into (literally) a hack-work of almost awesome incoherence.” Sheila Johnston, Time Out


“Regardless of House by the Cemetery being discombobulated much of the time, it still retains some nice photographic touches, some modestly creepy imagery and a standout score from Walter Rizatti. The organ based main theme sets the mood nicely, even though the film refuses to make sense. The gore effects are arguably some of the finest work of Gianetto De Rossi’s (Zombie) and Maurizio Trani’s (Dawn of the Mummy) careers.” Cool @ss Cinema

“It does include some entertaining scenes, but for a Fulci film its pace is slow, its story is plot heavy (even though most of the plot points raised are never resolved), and it features only one real zombie.” Glenn Kay, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

zombie movies the ultimate guide glenn kay chicago review press

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“What pushes The House by the Cemetery beyond my tolerances is that Fulci and his co-writers have delivered a script in which they haven’t even attempted to fit the disparate parts together. Whereas most Fulci movies feel like he’s playing connect the dots with a disordered wish-list of story ideas, The House by the Cemetery plays like he just filmed the dots where they lay, without making even the most cursory effort to form them into a whole. Indeed, The House by the Cemetery hardly seems like a completed movie at all.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“For pure cinematic assault, Fulci has given virtually every death an over-the-top sensationalism that can hardly be overstated in its visceral shock value. But for the person with a poetic soul looking for subtlety in cinema, the recommendation is to avoid this lacklustre hackfest.” Doctor Arnold T Blumberg, Andrew Hershberger, Zombiemania: 80s Movies To Die For


Buy: |

“The story would hold up well even without the gore scenes … Just be ready for some poorly dubbed voices, including the psychic boy and girl ghost who obviously sound like adults pretending to be children. Be ready for some heavy-handed camera work. There is too much telegraphing, not enough subtlety.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

” …The House By the Cemetery is a tighter, more contained narrative that focuses on one dead guy and one world. Even the film’s payoff, which can be read as a now dead Bob joining the afterlives of Mary (played by Teresa Rossi Passante) and Mae Freudstein (woops…surprise!), lacks the depressive nihilism of the two other “Gates of Hell” films.” Ravenous Monster

” …the script is full of clumsy dialog, badly dubbed; moments that leave the audience members scratching their heads in confusion; and plot threads that seem to be forgotten as soon as they are introduced. But unlike many other films of its time, House by the Cemetery holds up remarkably well to repeated viewing.”

Buy: |




Choice dialogue:
Norman Boyle: “This is New England, everybody has a tomb in their house”

Cast and characters:
Catriona MacColl … Lucy Boyle (as Katherine MacColl)
Paolo Malco … Doctor Norman Boyle
Ania Pieroni … Ann, the Babysitter
Giovanni Frezza … Bob Boyle
Silvia Collatina … Mae Freudstein
Dagmar Lassander … Laura Gittleson
Giovanni De Nava … Doctor Freudstein
Daniela Doria … First Female Victim
Giampaolo Saccarola … Daniel Douglas
Carlo De Mejo … Mr Wheatley
Kenneth A. Olsen … Harold (as John Olson)
Elmer Johnson … Cemetery Caretaker
Ranieri Ferrara … Victim
Teresa Rossi Passante … Mary Freudstein
Lucio Fulci … Professor Muller (uncredited)


Filming locations:
Boston, Massachusetts
Concord, Massachusetts (library and real estate office)
Ellis Estate House – 709 Country Way, Scituate, Massachusetts (house exteriors)
New York City, New York
Incir De Paolis Studios, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Technical details:
86 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Mono | Dolby Atmos

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