Quella villa accanto al cimitero (1981)
AKA: The House Outside the Cemetery
AKA: The House by the Cemetery
AKA: Zombie Hell House

(Release Date: August 14, 1981 [Italy])
(USA Release Date: March 01, 1984)

LUCIO, LUCIO, Quite Supremo, how does your Goober Grow?LUCIO, LUCIO, Quite Supremo, how does your Goober Grow?

Oh, come on, Lucio... You're making a Mess!

J.C. Mašek III... 
I die.
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

A short time ago an Italian reader of mine contacted me to ask me to be a little nicer to "Dr." Fulci. Dude, I thought I WAS being nice to Lucio Fulci! I mean, let's face it, he makes the absolute BEST bad movies in the history of cracked celluloid. Sort of like the episode of Friends in which Chandler confessed to Monica that she gave the "best bad massages", or the time my former Roommate James and I found an operable Sylvania Super Set in the dustbin, Lucio Fulci's unadulterated garbage is the absolute top of the steaming heap. He may never serve in Filmic Heaven, but he's most certainly the Ruler of Cinematic Hell. It's a Living Dead Hell in which even the best respected of his canon are, in all honesty, really quite, quite bad.

But without him, would a generation of Artists have been able to make the schlocky and gore-ridden horror flicks that grace midnight theatres everywhere? He showed us how to do it cheaply and convincingly, and if his special effects don't cause your eyes to pop out of your heads, he'll do it for you with his trademark Fulcian eye-popping effect.

In this DVD age, anyone can be considered a legend, and there are no derided directors anymore. Roger Corman is celebrated on a shelf right next to Hitchcock, Bert I. Gordon has a shot at his own boxed set and Ed Wood even sells discs every day... and not just those with the naked chicks in them.

Lucio Fulci's ripple effects and influence on other and later directors, however, is tangible and legitimate in an un-ironic way (as, arguably, is Corman's). Yes the man did the best he could with the budgets he had and his posthumous success most certainly counts as recognition.

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Hey, damn this!

If this isn't the basis for Doctor Satan, then Rob's Bassplayer was a DUDE!
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This brings me to the 1981 red smear known as Quella villa accanto al cimitero, or "The House by the Cemetery", or "The House Outside the Cemetery", or, because this is, after all, a film directed by Lucio Fulci, "Zombie Hell House". There are two reasons that this film feels familiar. The first is that it has unashamedly ripped off bits and pieces from earlier and biblically superior horror flicks to the point that I had a Michel de Nostredame-like predictive ability throughout the whole damned film. The second is that since its release, there have been a number of later and biblically sub-standard works that have, in turn, ripped it off.

And while there are a lot more than only two reasons why The House by the Cemetery sucks unwashed inter-dimensional alien balls, I am "happy" to point out the fact that I can give one of the highest praises a Fulci film can expect: "It's not all THAT bad!"

Actually, I'm not all that happy about it. Sometimes it's actually expected for a bad movie to be so bad it hurts, while still evoking the laughter that a Ken Lay conviction would inspire. This time, I was actually interested in the plight of this forlorn family in a fastidiously fearsome flickering film. It could be partially attributed to the fact that the first human being we see in the film is a hot topless blonde beauty. Nah... not "partially".

Here a deluded corn ball named Dr. Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco) has attained a trophy-size piece of the American dream when he purchases the house by the cemetery outside of Boston. Unfortunately, there was something E E E E E E E E E E E E E V V V V V V V V V I I I I I I I I I I I L L L L L L L L L L awaiting him and his relatively hot wife Lucy (Catriona MacColl) and gender ambiguous "son" Bob (Giovanni Frezza)! A dark, sinister, ancient and malevolent force lies in wait for the Boyle family, ultimately bent on killing them and using their blood to survive just long enough to kill the next idiot family to buy into this place. Which apparently happens invariably. This house has better Realtors than 112 Ocean Avenue, man!

It would have to, seeing as how the vicious and damned near featureless "Dr. Freudstein" lives in the basement of the house where he has been using his victims in longevity experiments for like a hundred horkin' years. Oh, I get it... that's where Rob(ber baron) Zombie got the idea for Dr. Satan! I knew he ripped it off from somewhere.

Meanwhile Bob, the "real" star of this show, begins to have visions of an "imaginary friend" who warns him in as many badly-dubbed ways possible about which rooms not to go into. Sounds more than a little bit like Danny's invisible amigo from The Shining. At least Bob doesn't talk to his finger... much.

Along the way, buckets of blood are thrown about, dream sequences put us to sleep, and Lucio and company pad out the film in as many ways as they possibly can while Old Boylin' Norman slowly pieces together the concept that his son Bob just might not be full of shit. Setting aside the obvious problem of being "SURPRISED" that a house built right at the edge of a Cemetery MIGHT be haunted, one does have to wonder what sort of drugs Normie must have been on to not see the signs. They were practically lumping him over the head, and he's missed being hit by a flying cranium at least twice!

What a Douche!

It all culminates in a predictable, yet strangely satisfying ending, which ups the gross-out factor at least one more level. It's interesting to note that Lucio Fulci's attempts at being truly artistic actually hurt this film's chances of being really suspenseful. His idea of foreshadowing is actually showing you a scene that will be edited in later on, so basically when a chick we've seen beheaded in dreams about five times is finally beheaded, we're about as surprised as we are during the "money shot" of a porn flick.

To make matters worse, this film is dubbed by mediocre voice actors (poor Bob by a grown woman, who sounds like a grown woman). Four writers, including Fulci himself, Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo and Elisa Briganti claim to have based this story on an H.P. Lovecraft story. If this is true, then why does it make about as much sense as some high school kid's collection of Fan Fiction? Naked Lunch had a more direct plot. This might have been saved if the editing wasn't so choppy and disserving of the screenplay to the point of a stormy obscurity. How convoluted is this? Reportedly the initial VHS release of The House by the Cemetery was created with some of the reels playing out of order... and no one seemed to notice. I mean, yeah, you could do this with basically any of the Police Academy films, but still!

I guess all these black marks only serve to surprise me all the more that I found myself genuinely interested in this film toward the end. Fulci can be suspenseful sometimes, I'll give him that. It's just all those other times that I have problems with. By the way, what kind of name is "Dr. Freudstein", anyway? Does this mean he's both Monstrous AND Psychoanalytical? What the fuck, was Fulci dabbling in Scientology when he wrote this?

Two Stars out of Five for The House by the Cemetery. It's a really bad movie... but you know, it's not all that bad. If you're expecting The Shining, you'll be disappointed. But if you're dead-set on watching one of the shittiest sewer-clogging chunks of Italian Horror excretion, well, you won't find that either. I mean, it sucks, but Lucio Fulci has made many worse films! There I go again. Look, folks, I'm being nice to Lucio, I am! I like Lucio Fucli! I really do! It's Bruno I hate.

Fucking Bruno!

See you in the next OUT OF ORDER reel.

Fucking Bruno!

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The House by the Cemetery reviewed by J.C. Mašek III,
who is solely responsible for each and every word expressed on this page,
and, of course for the fact that he's thinking about evicting that jackass who has been squatting in his basement.
It's starting to stink down there.
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