House By The Cemetery, The / Quella villa accanto al cimitero (1981)

4.5 out of 5

Dagmar Lassander is a real star but here gets the bit part treatment and ends up as little more than monster fodder in this part of Lucio Fulci's triptych of movies dealing with afterlife themes. Gianpaolo Saccarola looks suitably shifty again but he seems no more suspect than any adult in The House By The Cemetery. This is a movie about children.

Borrowing from movies such as The Shining, themes of Heavenly Creatures and Pan's Labyrinth style intertwining of death and fantasy provide safe harbour from a cruel and cold world of adults. Much of the behaviour of adult characters seems bizarre and indifferent to surroundings. This might possibly suggest that it is all a world to be understood through the eyes of a child.

Beaten to the 1983 International Fantasy Film Award by Scanners this film has a clear influence on House Of 1000 Corpses. Similarities to the monsters in basement of Evil Dead in the final scene may however be more coincidental but nevertheless noteworthy. The same could possibly be said about monster with a slab in a lab of underground railway shocker Creep.

Possibly only outdone by What About Bob? for repetition of that three letter nomenclature and featuring more loose ends than a Spaghetti Monster swinger party the film is beautiful and brilliant gibberish that can only compel. This movie is more coherent than The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead, but only just. Highly recommended nevertheless.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics