The House By The Cemetery
Starz / Anchor Bay
Review by Chuck Arrington | posted May 18, 2001
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THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETARY

Synopsis:

A prominent Dr. researching the subject of suicide "slaughters" his girlfriend and then kills himself. A protégé of the good doctor is assigned the task of finding out what could have led the Dr. to such an awful end. The young Dr. loads up his family and moves from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the rustic quiet of the dead Dr.'s country home in New England. Once there, strange sounds abound and one by one, the family is terrified then systematically carved up…for lack of a better term. Lucio Fulci is the Godfather of spaghetti horror and this one is evidently the pinnacle of his cinematic "success". For the life of me, I have no idea what was going on in this film. It was an amalgam of extremely gory visuals mixed in with a less than palatable storyline. It's no wonder that when his first horror film was screened, the patrons screamed at the conclusion of the film "Death to the Director!" This kind of psuedo-terror is really a sad bit of filmmaking. I am a great fan of horror movies however, this is not horror. At least horror films follow a plot, storyline and execution, with the visuals complimenting these elements. This film seemed driven by the visual fare and the story was secondary and almost non-existent in its visceral presentation. I know that Fulci has a following and they are entitled to like/love his work. As I am not a member of that group, and do not benefit from their point of view, I can only comment on the absurdity of the film at hand, and it's constant use of a grunting, obviously masked monster/man who guts everything like a fish and keeps on doing so through the end of the picture. On a list of the 10 worst films I have ever seen, The House by The Cemetery easily ranks anywhere from 1-5.

Audio/Video:

The audio for the film is presented in DD2.0, which is very tinny and at times so hollow, echoes of the dialogue are heard throughout. The dialogue is empty and without any kind of dynamic range that ignites the listening area. The dubbing is off just a hair so the lips are not always moving in concert with what's been said. There are no subtitles so; you'll have to pay pretty strict attention to what's said onscreen. It won't amount to any enjoyment or understanding of the events as they unfold onscreen but it's better than watching it without any sound whatsoever. (Maybe) As equally unimpressive as the audio, the video presents a murky and washed out dull image that is working hard to equal the overall awfulness of the picture. Pick a transfer error and you'll find it. Most notably are the bits of pixellation in the basement scenes. On the whole, it's a pretty sad widescreen presentation.

Extras:

On the extras front, trailers, a TV Spot and a still gallery are included. On the trailers, one is an American issued trailer and the other is an International trailer. The main difference between the two is the length and graphic content of the International version. The American version while enticing is short on graphic violence is big on the creepy voice and the appearance of danger. Just enough to whet your appetite. The International just lets it all hang out. The menus for this disc are also of interest. Anchor Bay put a great deal of thought into these animated themed menus and it shows. The still gallery is pretty lame and the TV spot is a shorter version of the American trailer with the Creepy voice in full effect.

Overall:

Good horror movies are a lot of fun and definitely get your blood pumping. Bad horror movies are just the opposite. The House by the Cemetery suffers from trying to employ more gore than storyline and the end result is an annoying bit of flotsam with little or no point. This could easily rival "Plan 9 From Outer Space" as the worst film ever made. Not an aficionado of Fulci's work, this entry within his cannon does nothing in the way of piquing my curiosity for any of his other works. In plain and simple language, this one stinks up everything and isn't even worthy of a rental Skip it



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