By Sean Boelman
This January, Blue Underground is releasing a new limited edition 3-disc 4K restoration of Lucio Fulci’s classic Italian horror flick The House by the Cemetery. The film is one of the most well-known by Fulci, the Godfather of Gore, whose other work includes Zombi 2, an unofficial Italian sequel to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
The movie follows a family in a New England home as they are terrorized by a malevolent presence living in the basement remaining from the previous homeowner, a deranged doctor who conducted unimaginable experiments. Like many other imports from the era (the film was originally released in 1981), The House by the Cemetery is rather ridiculous, but herein lies a majority of the movie’s charm.
Italian horror films don’t spend too much time on logic or plot, with an increased focus on atmosphere. Viewers who come into this movie expecting a tight, neatly-wrapped chiller aren’t the ones for whom this re-issue is intended. Rather, it is the genre fans who will love the film in all its messiness and absurdity that are most likely to find value out of this purchase.
If Fulci’s movie does have one significant flaw, it is that it isn’t quite as fun as some of the genre’s most iconic films. Although there are plenty of memorable deaths, the movie ultimately peaks early, with the first killing arguably being the most gruesome and memorable. After getting off to a very strong start, the film does lose some of its steam, but it does regain some of it heading into the final act.
As with any great movie like this, the main strengths of The House By the Cemetery are in its visuals. The practical effects and production design are both unreal, but that will certainly be expected by those who have already been initiated into the ways of the genre. As Fulci’s endearing nickname would suggest, some of the imagery in this is very gnarly, and admirably so.
The new 4K restoration of the film does it quite a few favors. Restored from the original and uncut camera negative, this release of the movie is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The level of detail in the image really allows the colors in the film to pop, as is so important with this type of horror movie. Additionally, the ability to blast the wonderful score from a Blu-Ray disc is welcome.
This release comes with plenty of bonus features, both new and archival. Some highlights from the bonus features include interviews with the stars and crew members (including new ones with the film’s co-writer and lead actress) and commentary from leading scholars in the horror community. Also included are a copy of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and a collectible booklet.
A gorgeous restoration of an iconic slasher movie, this new release of The House by the Cemetery should make its way to the top of every horror fan’s wishlist. This film will almost certainly satisfy even the most gore-hungry viewer’s craving for carnage and mayhem.
The new restoration of The House by the Cemetery arrives on Blu-Ray on January 21.
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