House by the Cemetery | Varied Celluloid

House by the Cemetery

Posted by Josh Samford On October - 13 - 2008
Plot Outline: The Boyle family has recently bought a small home in Boston, an escape from the big city. The only thing is, strange things have begun happening around them, and pretty soon it’s revealed that the house may very well be home to an evil no one could have expected! …That’s about it for the plot…


  


The Review: When I first decided to pursue Lucio Fulci’s work, House by the Cemetary was high on my list of films to see. Unfortunately I had heard nothing but bad word of mouth. I heard the little kid from Demons was in it and he drives the audience insane because of how annoying he is, and that the film makes the plot of City of the Living Dead look like an easily digestible whole. As much as I disagree with those statements, they aren’t exactly untrue. The dubbing for the film is absolutely atrocious and the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese. I’ll get to all that a little later, right now I’ll just glean over the positives.

What House by the Cemetary has going for it is the same thing The Beyond had going for it. A wonderful atmosphere backed up by beautiful cinematography, and while the score here pails in comparison to the classic score provided for The Beyond, it’s still quite adequate and often effective. For all the bad aspects of the film though, I just can’t bring myself to dislike it. That’s what I’m trying to grasp right now, why do I like this film? It’s almost deplorable when it comes to common sense and decent scripting. It’s certainly not because it’s fairly gory, I’ve seen plenty of films that are far gorier that I hated earnestly. No, I think it’s just House by the Cemetary stands as a fun movie. For all it’s terrible aspects, it’s got a pulse unlike many of the bad films from Italy around the time. During the last ten minutes, the film actually had a real tension to it that isn’t usually found in Fulci’s films. It’s probably just more of the same when it comes to Fulci’s work, but that doesn’t stop it from having a heart. The more you think about the film after you watch it though, the more you realize how terrible it is. Maybe terrible is the wrong word, more like idiotic.

I don’t know how I can comment on the unanswered plot threads without spoiling the film so I’ve decided not to go deep into it, but trust me on this, the film seems like it was written by an eight year old with a hankering for blood. Certain story arcs are opened, and by the middle of the film you’re wondering why it was even brought up. Here’s an example without spoiling anything big, in the film when the family first moves to the new home, the father is told on two or three occasions that he has been seen in town before with his daughter… this is never answered… it comes close to giving some kind of resolution, but it’s ignored for the most part. This is just a small example though. As much as I love Fulci, I can’t help but wonder what happened here. How is it possible that the writers missed these things? It’s not like someone walking into a scene wearing a hat then exiting without it, this is stuff that was in the script! Someone sat down and wrote this before the film was in production. Then someone came up behind that person, read the script and said ‘okay, this is great!’, I just can’t see how so many people could have missed such obvious mistakes. The only thing I can think of is that the film is missing about six or seven scenes that tie it all together. I find that highly unlikely though.

Usually this sort of thing would have rendered me incapable of even remotely liking the film, but when it’s Fulci, I sometimes feel more forgiving. Why? Because I love the style of his films. Sure, he may very well have been a hack, but he at least knew how to entertain his audience. If you’re not one of those select few though, stay away. It takes a forgiving person to be a Fulci fan, and if you don’t feel you can turn a blind eye on some of the stupider aspects of his films, then you’ll never like anything other than The Beyond and possibly Zombie. I find myself a bizarre case, because I’ve never been a super-fan of Fulci, but I keep returning to his films over and over again. Maybe I just want to finish them all, I don’t know, I just know he’s brought some fun to my viewing experience and I guess that’s all I can really ask.

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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