Directed by Lucio Fulci [Other horror films: Beatrice Cenci (1969), Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (1971), Non si sevizia un paperino (1972), Il cav. Costante Nicosia demoniaco, ovvero: Dracula in Brianza (1975), Sette note in nero (1977), Zombi 2 (1979), Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980), Black Cat (Gatto nero) (1981), …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà (1981), Lo squartatore di New York (1982), Manhattan Baby (1982), Murderock – Uccide a passo di danza (1984), Aenigma (1987), Zombi 3 (1988), Quando Alice ruppe lo specchio (1988), Il fantasma di Sodoma (1988), La dolce casa degli orrori (1989), La casa nel tempo (1989), Un gatto nel cervello (1990), Demonia (1990), Hansel e Gretel (1990), Voci dal profondo (1991), Le porte del silenzio (1991)]
As with much of Fulci’s horror output, Quella villa accanto al cimitero (or The House by the Cemetery) lacks some cohesion at times, but comes forth with strong gore, though this doesn’t entirely save it.
At first glance, the story is somewhat simple, but there are elements never really touched upon aside from being referenced once or twice (such as what exactly the deal with the babysitter was, and under what circumstances did the main guy visit the house previously, or the psychic girl subplot), which creates an occasionally incoherent film, perhaps par for the course, as far as Fulci’s concerned.
That said, many don’t come to Fulci’s films for their unparalleled stories, they come for the gore, and this movie certainly has that. Dismembered body parts, a bloody bat attack, multiple stabbings, this movie knew what it was doing insofar as the gore and special effects were concerned.
I watched a dubbed version of the film (which is the same as last time I saw this, if I recall), and the dubbing wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t really harm the performances. Paolo Marco was still decently strong as the main character, though he wasn’t as involved as I thought he might be. Catriona MacColl was a bit hysterical at times, but it worked for her character. Playing the babysitter with an unexplained connection to the house, Ania Pieroni did fine, but was lacking characterization. Lastly, the boy, played by Giovanni Frezza, was hurt most by the dubbing, and came across as annoying half the time, but I could live with it.
The lack of cohesion here is the biggest problem. Certainly there’s occasionally a strong atmosphere, and of course the gore is pretty top-notch, but when the story’s not amazing, those other factors can only do so much. Related, while much of the score was pretty good, it was rather eclectic at times, and seemed cut oddly, at least in the print I saw.
The House by the Cemetery probably isn’t Lucio Fulci’s best movie (I definitely like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Zombi 2 more, and maybe even The Beyond), but it is a good example of the kind of horror this Italian director did for the genre. It’s worth seeing despite the problems present, but it might not be one of his movies that you constantly go back to.