Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 23rd, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1981
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Elisa Briganti, Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander, Giovanni De Nava, Daniela Doria, Gianpaolo Saccarola, Carlo De Mejo
BluRay released: October 25th, 2011
Approximate running times: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A family moves into a cursed house located next to a cemetery that has a psychopath lurking in its basement.
‘No one will ever know whether the children are monsters or the monsters are children.’
The House by the Cemetery is third film in a trilogy of films known as Lucio Fulci’s ‘Death Trilogy’, the other two films are City of the living Dead and The Beyond.
Narrative wise, The House by the Cemetery is a pretty basic set up, that is greatly aided by the film’s atmospheric visuals, which are this films greatest asset. And nowhere is this more evident than in this film’s murder set pieces, which are meticulously laid out with the utmost brutally and are all always sufficiently gory. A few of the more memorable of these moments include a knife through the head and the tip pointing out of the victims mouth, a real estate agent getting repeatedly impaled and a young child’s head being held to a door, while a axe crashes through the door and narrowly misses his head.
The one area of this production that seems to divide most viewers, are the performances of the cast, most notably that of the voice actor’s performance for the character Bob Boyle, who is portrayed by Giovanni Frezza (Manhattan Baby). Besides this performance, there are no other major complaints about the casts performances. With the film’s standout performance coming from Catriona MacColl in the role of Bob’s mother. The House by the Cemetery would mark her third and final collaboration. Also she is the only actor to have appeared in all three film’s that make up Lucio Fulci’s ‘Death Trilogy’. Other notable cast members include Ania Pieroni (Inferno, Tenebre) in the role of Ann, the babysitter and this film’s other child actor Silvia Collatina in the role of Mae Freudstein.
Though not as well known or held in as high of regard as the other two films that make up Lucio Fulci’s ‘Death Trilogy’, I have always had a soft spot for The House by the Cemetery, because of the way in which this film puts its adolescent characters in peril and the film’s haunting coda which is arguably one of Lucio Fulci’s finest moments as a filmmaker.
The House by the Cemetery comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look healthy, black and contrast levels look very good. Details look crisp and there are no problems with compression. It should be noted that there are several instances in which the grain structure looks odd and it appears that DNR has been applied in varying degrees throughout this transfer.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian. The English audio mix in the stronger of the two audio mixes as it always sounds clear, everything sounds balanced and at times robust. The Italian audio on the other hand does exhibit some background noise that varies in degree throughout and it is rather limited range wise. This release comes with three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras include a poster & still gallery, a T.V. spot and two trailers, the International trailer (3 minutes 24 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the U.S. trailer (1 minute 48 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a deleted scene titled ‘Bat Attack Aftermath’ (59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and six featurettes, ‘Meet the Boyles’ – interviews with actress Catriona MacColl and actor Paolo Malco (14 minutes 12 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English and Italian with English subtitles), ‘Children of the Night’ – interviews with actor Giovanni Frezza and actress Silvia Collatina (12 minutes 13 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English), ‘Tales of Laura Gittlespn’ – interview with actress Dagmar Lassander (8 minutes 51 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English), ‘My Time With Terror’ – interview with actor Carlo De Mejo (9 minutes 16 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English), ‘A Haunted House Story’ – interview with screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti (14 minutes 2 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, Italian with English subtitles) and ‘To Build a Better Death Trap’ – interview with cinematographer Sergio Salvati, special make-up effects Maurizio Trani, special effects artist Gino De Rossi and actor Giovanni De Nava (21 minutes 32 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in ‘Meet the Boyles’ include the two participants talk about working together and what it was like working with Lucio Fulci – Catriona MacColl also briefly touches upon the three films that she worked on with Lucio Fulci, working with child actors and the films ending. Topics discussed in ‘Children of the Night’ include how they got into acting, working with Lucio Fulci, how Silvia Collatina’s hand double as Freudstein’s hands, Giovanni Frezza also talks about the scene where his head is being held to a door and the axe the came through the door, narrowly missing his head, they also talk about the films ending and what they think about the final product. Topics discussed in ‘Tales of Laura Gittlespn’ include how she got into acting, working with Mario Bava on the film Hatchet for the Honeymoon, her other collaboration with Lucio Fulci The Black Cat and how a mummified cat from that film got her in trouble when she arrived in the UK to begin filming and it was discovered by custom agents in her luggage. Topics discussed in ‘My Time With Terror’ include his mother actress Alida Valli, how he got into the acting, working with directors Lucio Fulci and Bruno Mattei. Topics discussed in ‘A Haunted House Story’ include the origins of the screenplay, script to screen – how the end product differed from the screenplay and how screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti’s often relies on ambiguity in his screenplays. Topics discussed in ‘To Build a Better Death Trap’ include what Lucio Fulci was trying to achieve visual with this film, all of this film’s major special effects sequences are covered in great detail and Giovanni De Nava talks about his performance and the extensive make-up required for his character Dr. Freudstein.
The three featurettes were once again put together by the ever reliable Red Shirt Pictures, who continue to impress with the first rate extras that they have supplied to numerous Cult film releases. Overall The House by the Cemetery gets a well rounded release from Blue Underground that trumps all previous home video releases of this film.
Note: Blue Underground are also releasing The House by the Cemetery on DVD.