The House by the Cemetery (1981)

house by the cemetery poster 1981 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Gory, creepy Italian horror

Movie loads too much into the story

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The House by the Cemetery

Studio:   Fulvia Films

Genre(s):   Horror

Release Date(s):   August 14, 1981 (Italy)/March 1, 1984 (US)

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

house by the cemetery real estate agent killed dagmar lassander

Now that is a realtor that gives it all for the sale!

Norman and Lucy Boyle (Paolo Malco and Catriona MacColl) have decided to move from the hustle of the city to a small countryside home to continue the work of one of Norman’s associates who killed himself.  Though their son Bob (Giovanni Frezza) has been seeing visions and warnings about going to the home, the family purchases a place the townspeople still call the Freudstein House where horrible experiments were said to have occurred.  The Boyles soon find the cellar sealed shut and strange events start occurring around the house including Bob being visited by a girl calling herself Mae (Silvia Collatina). Something has been released in the house by the cemetery…and the horror is just beginning!

Directed by Lucio Fulci, The House by the Cemetery (Quella villa accanto al cimitero) is an Italian horror film.  The movie is considered part of the loosely tied Luci “Gates of Hell” trilogy which included City of the Living Dead (1980) and The Beyond (1981). The movie was banned in the United Kingdom as part of the “Video Nasty” list.  It has gained a cult following over the years.

house by the cemetery bob attacked giovanni frezza

In the killer’s defense…I think we all want Bob dead

There is something rather unnerving about Italian horror, and The House by the Cemetery isn’t any different in that sense.  You know that the characters are heading into danger and because it is foreign, the chances of survival seem slimmer.

The story is a little more focused than The Beyond, but it still begins to add multiple layers that are unnecessarily complex.  You have a lot of “ghostly” stuff shoved into a story that could have been told a bit simpler…still it seems a bit more streamlined than the other two films which is good.  Even with that said (since it is a bit weird still), it feels like The Beyond was more entertaining because it went completely out there for its plot (or lack thereof).  The House by the Cemetery just feels like rehash of The Shining in a lot of ways with a totally different outcome.

The cast for the movie is unremarkable and the dubbing of the film makes it even worse.  It does give it a weird ethereal feel where the characters are not connected to their own voices.  Giovanni Freeze became a relatively successful child actor after the movie, but there is something inherently funny about a little kid being called “Bob” instead of Bobbie or Robbie…it just feels wrong like most of the movie.

house by the cemetery dr freustein giovanni de nava

…not sure exactly what we are looking at here

Italian horror often banks heavily on the visuals, and The House by the Cemetery banks heavily on the two predecessors with gore being the driving force behind the movie.  The effects laden movie has peoples’ heads being yanked off, zombie people, and lots of blood…lot and lots of blood.  The movie has a weird overexposed ’70s look to it and that just adds to the darkness.

The House by the Cemetery isn’t a great masterpiece, but if you love horror (especially this vein of horror), you will love it.  It has everything you’d expect from a movie with jumps and brutal kills that can leave people squeamish.  The movie’s odd plot is unsettling and that is something to be said about a “haunt house” movie since it feels like it has been done again and again…it isn’t revolutionary, but it is fun!

Related Links:

City of the Living Dead (1980)

The Beyond (1981)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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