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The House by the Cemetery(1981)
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.
For more about The House by the Cemetery and the The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray release, see the The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 25, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Elisa Briganti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Dardano Sacchetti, Lucio Fulci
Starring: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza (I), Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander
» See full cast & crew
The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray Review
Lucio's lose your lunch special.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 25, 2011
You shouldn't have come.
The House by the Cemetery is a derivative snoozer of a Horror movie that could have been better but plays out by the book and masquerades as a Horror movie by inundating the screen with gore rather than thrills and chills. It's one of Director Lucio Fulci's (Zombie) lesser pictures to be sure, but as far as hardcore, visceral experiences go, they don't come much more complex, complete, and grotesque as this. Much like the aforementioned Zombie, The House by the Cemetery is a frustrating picture at best. With a potentially strong but unfulfilled plot line and all sorts of additional problems, the movie just can't compete with more polished and complete genre pictures, but if it's gore that the viewer craves above all else then this is an unbeatable experience. Also like Zombie, it's a movie with a built-in audience; knowing what it is and what it has to offer, most will know right off the bat if they will want to give it a spin or stay far, far away.
Norman and Lucy Boyle (Paolo Malco and Catriona MacColl, respectively) are New Yorkers moving further north where Norman can continue the research left unfinished by one of his colleagues, the recent victim of a tragic murder-suicide. They're taking their impressionable young son Bob (Giovanni Frezza) who, even before the move, is in communication with a mystery redheaded girl who warns him not to come. But come the family does. They move into a fix-me-up country home that's built on an old burial site and that's eerily reminiscent to a home that appears in a picture they once hung on their wall and through which Bob believed he first saw and communicated with the mystery girl. Bob continues to speak with the girl -- whom he can now see "in the flesh" -- but his parents dismiss his odd ramblings. The family hires a new babysitter, Ann (Ania Pieroni), to care for little Bob. Unfortunately, it turns out that the family should have heeded Bob's warning. There's something devilishly wrong at this house, something behind a barricaded basement door that just might spell the end of the line for the Boyle family.
Give The House by the Cemetery credit where credit is due. It starts out with a chillingly creepy scene inside a dusty, worn, and ragged house that soon gives way to some horrifically detailed gore. It knows its place and lets its viewers know right off the bat what to expect. The gore effects are incredibly conceived and convincing; no matter the wound and no matter its complexity, the effects artists have made a series of special effects that will challenge the constitution of even the most iron-stomached, longtime gore aficionado. Anyone that's not at the top of their Horror movie game or is contemplating a watch with a full stomach should probably wait. Atmospherically, the movie paints with a brush that leaves behind broad, ominous strokes, but step back and all that's there, really, is a whole lot of nothing, even where the movie hints at much more. The House by the Cemetery sacrifices its chilling atmosphere, only partially explores a story that seems ripe for more, and eschews real spine-tingling and blood-curdling terror all in favor of what is little more than some well-conceived gore framed around a story that's more about potential than it is execution, not to mention any number of additional issues.
Aside from its hardcore violence, The House by the Cemetery follows standard haunted house motifs. There's the character who can see and hear someone that the others can't, the obligatory "scary basement," and the country setting to ensure that no one else can hear the screams. The movie takes a long time to set the stage for what is ultimately little payoff. Sure the final sequence is gruesome, the story hints at something more interesting and profound than is actually delivered, and the killer is "interesting" to say the least, but is that really worth eighty-some minutes of bland characters going though the motions, not to mention suffering through the whiny Bob character, victim of terrible dubbing and continuously cringe-worthy dialogue? Probably not. The movie is choppy, too; music stops on a dime at several junctures, which leaves the picture feeling rather incomplete and unpolished, not to mention creating an unnecessarily jarring moment that kills any momentum the thing has going for it. With The House by the Cemetery, the only real reason to watch is to wait for the inevitable. It telegraphs some of the victims but leaves a couple of others as surprises, but none of it is really out-of-the-blue shocking. The film is worth it weight in gore -- and then some -- but it's otherwise, and most unfortunately, very short on substance.
The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray, Video Quality
The House by the Cemetery's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is all-revealing. Detail is fantastic. Whether at film's open where dusty and dingy hardwood floors are seen in great close-up detail or the various hardcore gore effects that are seen at several point throughout, the image proves superbly clear and well-defined in 1080p. Clothing and facial textures are strong, too, and the image sports a fair bit of natural depth. Grain is light but accentuates the transfer's film-like look. Colors are steady and natural, whether bright blue clothing or the more dull house interior shades alike. There are some stray hairs and a few speckles, but the print appears to be in very good condition. Blocking and banding are generally non-factors, but there is a little bit of harmless wobble accompanying the opening credits. Black levels are relatively strong and yield minimal crush; the dark, shadowy basement scenes look quite good. All said, this is a very strong transfer that fans are sure to love.
The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The House by the Cemetery arrives on Blu-ray with a satisfying DTS-HD MA 2.0 losses soundtrack. The track is a touch scratchy to start and yields the occasional unnaturally crunchy sound effect, such as when Mr. Boyle adjusts his sleeping son's blankets in one shot. Music is handled efficiently across the front; it's fairly spacious and crisp, not the best or clearest presentation ever, but certainly solid and well-designed with what range is available to the track. Light atmospherics -- primarily the sounds of the country -- are sprinkled across the front. Heavier effects, whether during action scenes or anytime there are screaming characters and random scary noises, such as a cacophony of banging sounds in chapter nine or the screeching of a bat in the following chapter, are handled with adequate clarity, volume, and effectiveness. The sound does seem to momentarily drop out in chapter fifteen in a scene featuring Bob trapped in the basement. Dialogue is clear and center-focused throughout. Despite no surround support, this is a quality, effective soundtrack from Blue Underground.
The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The House by the Cemetery creeps onto Blu-ray with a good number of extras, both interview featurettes and promotional materials alike.
The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The House by the Cemetery isn't kin to the modern "torture porn" sort of movie, but it shares with that subset one undeniable truth: they both relish the visual atrocities committed in them well ahead of story and characterization. The plot of The House by the Cemetery does enjoy a fundamentally sound story based in something of a supernatural world, and while it's explored, it's not resolved to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion; it seems as if there are many factors alluded to, but not fully revealed or resolved. Weak acting -- including one of the most annoying child leads in memory -- and a poor script just can't be overlooked, even in a movie with solid atmospheric direction and complex gore effects. Well, with a movie like this, those who like it know they like it and those who don't either know they won't or haven't seen it yet. Blue Underground's release offers strong video, good audio, and a long list of extras. Recommended to fans.
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The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The House by the Cemetery Blu-ray - June 2, 2011
This September, Blue Underground will bring The House by the Cemetery to Blu-ray. Lucio Fulci's classic horror film, The House by the Cemetery follows a serial killer who needs body parts from the freshly deceased in order to stay alive. Blue Underground presents ...
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