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John’s Horror Corner: The House by the Cemetery (1981, aka Quella villa accanto al cimitero), Lucio Fulci’s gruesome Italian horror classic from his Gates of Hell trilogy.

November 27, 2022

MY CALL: Right up there with Fulci’s Zombie (1979), all three films in Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy (this being one of them) are delightfully gory affairs. A must-see for gorehounds who desire to cover their influential horror of the 80s.

This movie gets off to a gruesome start right away with a horribly mangled body and a stab “through” the back of the head (Daniela Doria; The Black Cat, City of the Living Dead, The New York Ripper) and out the mouth! Gorehounds will delight in this deliciously gross film.

Along with their young boy Bob (Giovanni Frezza; Manhattan Baby, Demons, A Blade in the Dark), Norman (Paolo Malco; The New York Ripper, Demons 3) and Lucy (Catriona MacColl; City of the Living Dead, The Beyond) rent a New England home at the edge of a cemetery. There for Norman’s academic research, it is readily apparent that Norman knows more about the house than he is letting on to his wife. He is there to continue the research of the late Dr. Peterson, who was researching a turn-of-the-century surgeon known for his questionable practices: Dr. Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava; Murder Rock).

We find suspicious warnings of the dangers ahead from a local little girl Mae (Silvia Collatina; Murder Rock, The Great Alligator) and their babysitter Ann (Ania Pieroni; Inferno, Tenebrae), who also secretively seems to be up to something in the old Freudstein house. And if that shouldn’t be enough to scare someone away, not only does the cemetery encroach the yard and driveway of the house, but Freudstein’s sarcophagus is in the floor of the house.

Of course, the more time spent in the house, the more weird and dire things develop. There is a comically insane, over-the-top scene involving a manic bat attack and the extremely bloody dispatching of the bat. Blood bubbles and spurts and sprays across the room and paints the floor. Fulci certainly had fun with this one. The plentiful corpses in this movie are so mangled and gross with chunky, scrappy wounds. As hokey as some of the stabbery may appear by today’s standards, I’m thrilled by how much of it is fully showcased on-screen. This movie also features one of the grossest, “most maggoty” stabs ever. And when we finally see him, Dr. Freudstein is a monstrosity.

This seems to be on the more coherent side of director Lucio Fulci’s (Demonia, City of the Living Dead, Zombie, The Beyond) filmography. But regardless of its comprehensibility (as some prefer the zany incomprehensible Italian horror fare more), this was a pleasant, fun, nostalgic rewatch for this horror fan.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2022 9:57 am

    Definitely looks like a gorefest. And creepy enough.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 27, 2022 10:02 am

      Have you not seen this? If not, I strongly recommend you visit Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. City of the Living Dead and The Beyond are stronger in the gore department, but all three are quite solid.

      • November 27, 2022 10:07 am

        I keep wanting to say I’ve seen it but I don’t think I have. I’ll check it out and see if it sparks a memory. If it doesn’t at least I’ll have a good “new” one to watch.

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