Thursday, July 1, 2010

'The House by the Cemetery' isn't worth visiting

The House by the Cemetery (1984)
Starring: Katherine MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza, and Ania Pieroni
Director: Lucio Fulci
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A researcher (Malco) moves with his family to Boston to complete the work started by a collegue who committed suicide. Through a flurry of coincidences (or Fate, or maybe the researcher's specific manipulation, take your pick), they end up in a creepy house that is tied to the subject of the research. Ghosts, unkillable bats, and weird murders then drive the young family toward doom.

If you like your horror flicks with a high level of well-done gore but don't care whether the story hangs together well, then this is a film for you.

One part haunted house movie, one part slasher flick, and with a dash of mad science thrown in out of left field for good measure, " House by the Cemetery" exhibits all the strength and weaknesses that were the hallmarks of Italian horror movie makers in the Seventies and Eighties; the gore is appropriately disgusting--although the highmark in this film is definately the maggot-infested insides of the film's monster!--but there are characters who behave inconsistently or incomprehsibly and the script writers seem more concerned with getting from plot contrievance to plot contrievance, or providing excuses for the special efffects crew to go to work than they are with providing a story that hands together sensibly by the time the End Credits roll.

I know Fulci has his strong admirers, and I'm sure they will find much to like in this movie, but I was too annoyed with the coincidences, pointless ambiguities, and just plain random junk that pass for the story to get much enjoyment from it. It wasn't even fun nonsense, like you get in the Monogram and PRC horror movies from the 1930s and 1940s; it was just nonsense. (And if you are an admirer of this film, can you explain the behavior of the creepy babysitter [played by Ania Pieroni] to me? That annoyed me more than anything else in the picture.)

Oh... and that picture I used to illustrate this review? It appeared on a German poster for the flick, It's a cool painting, even if it has little do to with what actually happens.

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