House by the Cemetery (1981)
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander, Giovanni De Nava, Daniela Doria, Carlo De Mejo
The films that Lucio Fulci directed in the late ’70s and early ’80s made him a god to horror/gore fans. In the early days of VHS tapes, these films were always ones you’d rent over and over again. While he was already a successful filmmaker, directing films in just about every genre, once Zombie (1979) came out, followed over the next three years by City of the Living Dead (1980), The Black Cat (1981), The Beyond (1981), and House by the Cemetery (1981), New York Ripper (1982), he simply could do no wrong. And I still think that statement holds up today as well, since at least four of those titles still are considered classics today. And now, thanks to Blue Underground, we get a brand-spanking new 4K scan, along with second disc of extras, AND the complete soundtrack on CD, this is one release that is well worth double or triple dipping on.
Let me get one bit of bitching out of the way. As great as it is to see these films looking better than they ever have, it also must be said that it is causing some of the makeup effects to look a lot less impressive as when we were watching them from VHS or if you were lucky, a print from the Japanese laserdisc. Since these movies have been cleaned up to look so damn pristine, seeing the obviously color difference on the skin of necks and so forth, right before the throat is ripped out, makes it quite apparent where the makeup is. Now don’t get me wrong, the amount of gore and blood here is still amazing and highly effective. But I always see and notice these little things now where as back then, you’d never notice it.
That being said, you still need to buy this new disc!
Besides Zombie, House is probably one of the more straight forward plotlines from Fulci, even though there are more than a few WTF moments that make no sense whatsoever. Then again, isn’t that part of the charm of Fulci’s work? While this is not my favorite of Fulci’s, I’ve always really enjoyed this film, even with some of the strange, nonsensical moments. And yes, even with little Bob running around screaming! The score by Walter Rizzati is amazing, creating some truly haunting moments accompanied by some grisly images on screen! While some might want to dismiss this as another one of Fulci’s cheap gore pictures, there are several scenes that showed his cinematic genius when it came to creating fear and tension. When poor little Bob’s head is being held against a door that is about to be hit with an axe is just brilliant and a highly crafted sequence.
Making her last appearance in a Fulci film, Catriona MacColl, is once again thrown into a nightmarish hell, being the wife of a researcher that unknowingly stumbles upon a mystery that very well may cost them their lives. MacColl always did a great job in these, really raising the hysteria to the story and bringing the audience into her world. Her husband, played by Paolo Malco, tries to uncover what exactly is going on, even though the audience is pretty sure we are way ahead of him! And then there is little annoying Bob, played by Giovanni Frezza, who is forever apologizing to fans for his voice in the film! Even though he was very young, along with Silvia Collantina, they still do a great job with their characters, making this film even stranger. Throw in other Fulci regulars like Daniela Doria, Carlo De Mejo, Giampaolo Saccarola, and Dagmar Lassander, and you have another amazing piece of cinema.
This new release is filled with extras, both old and new. The new audio commentary by Troy Howarth is yet another bit of audio history lesson. Howarth always makes his commentaries sound like a conversation, never dull or boring, filling it with so much information that it not only holds your attention, but by god, you actually learn from it! With these Italian films especially, I’m always intrigued to learn who the person is doing the dubbing, and what other films they were in. After watching so many of these films over the years, you always know the voice sounds like someone from another movie, but never could place it. Troy sets all that straight by usually letting you know who did the voice and where else you might have heard them. Great stuff, as always.
There are a bunch of old interviews with the cast, with some footage from when they had a reunion at HorrorHound Weekend back in 2011, that show how much respect these actors had for their fans, as well as the work they did. As far as new interviews, you get to hear from co-writer Giorgio Mariuzzo, a brand new interview with Catriona MacColl, and a nice little bit with author Stephen Thrower.
Did I mention the print quality of this transfer is well worth the upgrade from the 2011 Blu-ray? And that you get the score as well? How could you pass this up? Kudos to Blue Underground for another fabulous release.