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Lucio Fulci
Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni
Writing Credits:
Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Lucio Fulci

A New England home is terrorized by a series of murders, unbeknownst to the guests that a gruesome secret is hiding in the basement.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Italian DTS-HD MA 1.0
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
French Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 1.0
English for Italian Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 1/22/2020

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Troy Howarth
• Deleted Scene
• “Meet the Boyles” Featurette
• “Children of the Night” Featurette
• “Tales of Laura Gittleson” Featurette
• “My Time with Terror” Featurette
• “A Haunted House Story” Featurette
• “To Build a Better Death Trap” Featurette
• “House Quake” Featurette
• Q&A With Actor Catrona MacCall
• “Calling Dr. Freudstein” Featurette
• Poster & Still Galleries
• 2 Trailers
• TV Spot
• Bonus CD
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


House by the Cemetery [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 21, 2020)

From cult director Lucio Fulci, 1981’s House by the Cemetery offers his gory take on the supernatural horror genre. After he kills his mistress, Dr. Petersen commits suicide.

Petersen conducted research in New England, and his colleague Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco) takes over this work. To assist in this task, Norman moves with wife Lucy (Catriona MacColl) and young son Bob (Giovanni Frezzi) to the home outside of Boston that Peterson once occupied.

Though this seems straightforward, creepy complications soon ensue. Crazy Dr. Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava) once owned the abode, and his evil legacy continues to literally haunt the Boyles.

When I reviewed Fulci’s Zombie, I referred to it as “slow and sluggish”. When I checked out Fulci’s New York Ripper, I called it a “loose, rambling collection of gore and skin”.

With those experiences as prologue, did it seem likely that I’d enjoy Cemetery? Probably not, but I try to remain open to cinematic surprises, so I figured I’d give it a look.

On the positive side, I think Cemetery fares better than those two. Zombie and Ripper tended to come across as random acts of graphic violence without much plot attached, whereas Cemetery attempts an actual story.

That said, “attempts” seems like an apt term, as I find it hard to locate a truly coherent tale here. Still, at least the movie makes vague stabs in that direction, which I can't claim for the other Fulci films I saw.

Cemetery also offers a more subtle take on the horror genre than the ultra-violent, gore-obsessed Zombie and Ripper. Make no mistake: Fulci ladles out some graphic content here, so it won’t work for squeamish viewers.

Nonetheless, Fulci focuses much more on psychological horror than he did in the other movies. Even with the occasional moment of gruesome imagery, Cemetery devotes much more time to implicit scares rather than explicit.

These moments add a sense of dread to Cemetery I didn’t get in his other flicks. Those offered such over the top shenanigans that they never really felt scary in any way, whereas Cemetery manages an ominous tone.

Alas, I can’t claim that the film does a whole lot with these potential positives. Even though Cemetery boasts the bones of a good horror movie, Fulci creates such a clumsy, erratic piece that it doesn’t really work.

Much of this stems from the general incoherence of the narrative and the confused way in which Fulci tells the tale. What should become a fairly straightforward story of supernatural menace meanders around so many different paths that it doesn’t connect in a meaningful manner.

By the end, these tie together in a semi-sorta-coherent fashion, but don’t expect anything that makes a ton of sense. Cemetery grabs bits and pieces of different horror movies/genres, tosses them in a blender and asks the viewer to piece them together.

If you ignore than seemingly random plot drifts and the general lack of logic, you’ll get more from Cemetery. Most horror movies demand that you shut off your brain to enjoy them, but this one takes that necessity farther than most.

Less than stellar acting doesn’t aid the cause. Despite a mainly Italian cast and crew, the actors speak English, and it appears that this impacted their ability to create believable characters.

Or maybe none of them could act even under the best of circumstances – who knows? All I can say is that the performances vary from wooden to campy, without much else in between those two poles.

I do think Cemetery gives us occasional jolts of terror, and it comes together better than the other Fulci flicks I’ve seen. It doesn’t become anything especially good, though.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus A

House by the Cemetery appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite the movie’s age and roots, the transfer worked pretty well.

Overall sharpness seemed positive. A smidgen of softness interfered at times – mainly in low-lit interiors – most of the image offered pretty nice clarity and delineation.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With moderate grain throughout the film, I didn’t suspect any problematic digital noise reduction. Occasional gate hairs cropped up, but otherwise, the movie lacked source defects.

Colors felt good, as the image tended toward a lot of blue and green tones. These came across as subdued but accurate for the production design, as the story leaned toward subtle tones.

Blacks came across as pretty dark and tight, while shadows were generally smooth. Some low-light shots could become too thick, but most offered appeaing clarity. A product of its time, this was a more than watchable image.

Given that Cemetery exists as an Italian production, one would view its Italian soundtrack as the way to go. However, I don’t feel that way in this case. Though the film used actors of varying nationalities, it clearly asked them to speak English dialogue.

Despite that, the Italian track counts as the “original” because the movie’s initial release occurred in Italy and used that audio. The Blu-ray includes both Italian and English mixes, and normally I go with “original”, but in this case I favored the English track.

I did so simply because it matched the dialogue. Since the actors spoke the lines in English, this made it the logical choice, especially because speech lined up with lip movements better.

However, even in that regard, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 track occasionally faltered due to the nature of the source. As mentioned earlier, like most Italian productions, all the dialogue got looped in post-production – and looped poorly in this case, as the lines often don’t match mouth movements especially well.

The dubbed nature of the speech meant lackluster quality as well. The lines tended to feel canned and dull, without natural tones. I could understand the dialogue but it still didn’t sound good.

For the 5.1 mix, effects seemed adequate. They lacked great range and impact, but they showed reasonable reproduction for the most part.

Music worked fine, as the score seemed more than satisfactory. I couldn’t claim these elements displayed terrific qualities, but they became the best aspect of the mix.

As for the soundscape, it used the various channels in a manner that emphasized the forward speakers. In particular, music focused on the front, where the score offered decent stereo spread.

Effects broadened in a passable manner, though they tended toward general atmosphere. Many of these elements concentrated on the front center, so they used the side and rear speakers in a modest way. All of this added to a decent remix for its age.

On Disc One, we open with an audio commentary from film historian Troy Howarth. He offers a running, screen-specific look at director Lucio Fulci’s career and work on Cemetery as well as other cast/crew and production notes.

I always enjoy the well-prepared Howarth’s commentaries, and his tracks for Fulci movies work even better than the others because he literally wrote a book about the director. Howarth brings knowledge and passion to this highly informative chat.

Called “Bat Attack Aftermath”, one Deleted Scene goes for one minute, one second. As the title states, it shows what happened immediately after the bat bit Norman.

Alas, the disc’s producers couldn’t locate the original audio, so we can’t hear the dialogue. Not that it’d matter much, as the brief extension seems less than compelling anyway.

In addition to two trailers and a TV Spot, Disc One concludes with Poster and Still Galleries. The first shows 74 frames of advertising and video box art, while the second brings 22 movie shots and promotional elements.

Note that Gallery 1 provides actual stillframes, while Gallery 2 delivers a running montage. Clearly taken from a prior DVD, Gallery 2 repeats some of the material from Gallery 1 and does so with much lower quality. Gallery 1 clearly becomes the superior set of the two.

Over on Disc Two, we get many featurettes that focus on interviews, and Meet the Boyles comes first. It lasts 14 minutes, 17 seconds and presents comments from actors Paolo Malco and Catriona Maccoll.

Shot separately, they discuss Fulci as well as their work with him and on the film. Both offer useful insights, though they occasionally contradict themselves, as MacColl claims Fulci interacted warmly with kids during the shoot whereas Malco says he scared them!

Children of the Night spans 12 minutes, 18 seconds and features actors Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina. In separate interview, they talk about their experiences as child actors in this engaging reel.

With Tales of Laura Gittleson, we get an eight-minute, 56-second chat with Dagmar Lassander. She offers some stories about the shoot and makes this another good little conversation.

My Time With Terror occupies nine minutes, 21 seconds and includes notes from actor Carlo De Mejo. He gives us thoughts about his career and his time on the film. This turns into a nice piece.

After this we get A Haunted House Story, a 14-minute, seven-second program with co-writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti. Shot separately, they talk about the story’s origins and development as well as characters and the screenplay. They provide a good overview.

To Build a Better Death Trap occupies 21 minutes, 32 seconds and involves cinematographer Sergio Salvati, special makeup effects artist Maurizio Trani, special effects artist Gino De Rossi, and actor Giovanni De Nava.

Recorded individually, the participants tell us about the movie’s various effects. We get a nice nuts and bolts view of this work.

Up next, House Quake goes for 14 minutes, 46 second and features co-writer Giorgio Mariuzzo. He gets into thoughts about the script as well as memories of Fulci in this reasonably informative chat.

From 2014, MacColl appears at a Spaghetti Cinema Festival Q&A. This panel lasts 29 minutes, 37 seconds.

MacColl discusses aspects of her life and career, with an obvious emphasis on her time with Fulci. She offers a nice collection of memories and insights.

Finally, Calling Dr. Freudstein brings a 19-minute, 34-second chat with film historian Stephen Thrower. Like Howarth, he specializes in Fulci’s life/career, so a little redundancy appears. Still, Thrower offers a good recap, so this becomes a worthwhile reel.

A third disc provides a CD soundtrack for Cemetery. It lasts 57 minutes and adds a nice bonus for fans.

Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It presents photos, credits and an essay from Michael Gingold. The booklet finishes the set on a positive note.

A mix of supernatural horror and over the top gore, House by the Cemetery offers a mixed bag. While it creates a decent sense of dread, the incoherent story and poor acting harm it. The Blu-ray brings reasonably positive picture and audio along with a strong collection of bonus materials. Cemetery occasionally packs a modest punch, but it lacks consistency.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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