The House by the Cemetery

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The House by the Cemetery
Quella Villa acanto al Cimitero Poster.jpg
Italian film poster
Directed byLucio Fulci
Produced byFabrizio De Angelis[1]
Screenplay by
Story byElisa Livia Briganti[2]
Music byWalter Rizzati[2]
CinematographySergio Salvati[2]
Edited byVincenzo Tomassi[3]
Fulvia Film[2]
Distributed byMedusa Distribuzione[2]
Release date
  • 14 August 1981 (1981-08-14) (Italy)

The House by the Cemetery (Italian: Quella villa accanto al cimitero) is a 1981 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci. The film stars Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina and Dagmar Lassander. Its plot revolves around a series of murders taking place in a New England home–a home which happens to be hiding a gruesome secret within its basement walls.


A woman (Daniela Doria) is in an abandoned house looking for her boyfriend. After she discovers his body stabbed with scissors, she is stabbed in the head with a French knife, and her body is dragged through a cellar door.

In New York City, Bob (Giovanni Frezza) and his parents, Norman and Lucy Boyle (Paolo Malco and Catriona MacColl), are moving into the same house. Norman's ex-colleague, Dr. Peterson, who murdered his mistress before committing suicide, was the previous owner. The Boyles are to stay there, whilst Norman researches old houses. As his mother packs, Bob looks at a photograph of a house and notices a girl in it. In New Whitby, Boston, Bob waits in his parents' car while they collect the house keys. The girl from the photograph appears across the street. The girl, Mae (Silvia Collatina), whom only Bob can see, warns him to stay away. In the real estate office, Mrs. Gittleson (Dagmar Lassander) is annoyed when her colleague hands the couple "the Freudstein" keys. She insists it is called "Oak Mansion", and promises to find the Boyles a babysitter.

Oak Mansion is in a poor state of repair. The cellar door is locked and nailed shut. A woman arrives and introduces herself as Ann, the babysitter (Ania Pieroni). That night, Norman hears noises and finds Ann unblocking the cellar door. The next day, Norman goes to the library to peruse Peterson's materials. The chief librarian, Mr. Wheatley (Carlo De Mejo), appears to recognize him. but Norman claims he is mistaken. The assistant librarian, Daniel Douglas (Giampaolo Saccarola), then informs Norman that Peterson conducted private research at the house. He studied records of area disappearances and other demographic data.

Mae shows Bob a tombstone on the grounds marked "Mary Freudstein" and says she is not really buried there. Indoors, Lucy finds the tombstone of "Jacob Tess Freudstein" while sweeping the hallway. When Norman returns, he reassures her that some older houses have indoor tombs because of the hard wintry ground. Norman opens the cellar door and walks down the stairs, only to be attacked by a bat, which won't let go until he stabs it repeatedly. Spooked, the family drives down to the real estate office and demands to be re-housed, but are told it will be a few more days before they can move. While the Boyles are at hospital to treat Norman's injuries from the bat, Mrs. Gittleson arrives at the house to tell them of a new property. Letting herself in, she stands over the Freudstein tombstone, which cracks apart, pinning her ankle. A figure emerges, stabs her in the neck with a fireplace poker, and drags her into the cellar.

The next morning, Lucy finds Ann cleaning a bloodstain on the kitchen floor. Ann eludes Lucy's questions about the stain. Over coffee, Norman tells Lucy that he's discovered that Freudstein was a Victorian surgeon who conducted illegal experiments. Norman must travel to New York to research Freudstein. On the way, Norman drops by the library and finds a cassette of Peterson's, which explains Freudstein killed his family. Ann goes to the cellar looking for Bob, but Freudstein decapitates her after slashing her throat. Bob sees Ann's head, and exits screaming. Lucy refuses to believe Bob's tale about Ann. That evening, Bob returns to the cellar looking for Ann but gets locked in. Lucy hears Bob's cries and tries to open the cellar door. When she cannot open it, Norman returns and attacks it with an hatchet. The rotting hands of Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava) appear and restrain Bob. Norman cuts the monster's hand off, and he staggers away, bleeding.

Norman and Lucy finally get into the cellar, which contains several mutilated bodies (including Ann, Mrs. Gittleson, and the couple from the beginning of the film), surgical equipment, and a slab. Freudstein is a living corpse with rotting flesh. Norman tells Lucy that the 150-year-old Freudstein lives by using his victims' parts to regenerate blood cells. Norman attacks Freudstein, but the ghoul twists the hatchet away. He grabs a dagger off a tray and stabs Freudstein. Freudstein picks up Norman and rips his throat out. Lucy and Bob climb a ladder leading to the cracked tombstone. Lucy strains to shift the stone, but Freudstein grabs her and drags her down the stairs, killing her by ramming her head into the concrete floor. As Freudstein advances up the ladder, Bob strains to escape. As Freudstein grabs Bob's leg, he is suddenly yanked upwards by Mae. With Mae is her mother, Mary Freudstein (Teresa Rossi Passante), who tells them it's time to leave. Mrs. Freudstein leads Mae and Bob down the wintry grove into a netherworld of ghosts and sadness.


  • Catriona MacColl as Lucy Boyle (credited as Katherine MacColl)
  • Paolo Malco as Dr. Norman Boyle
  • Ania Pieroni as Ann (babysitter)
  • Giovanni Frezza as Bob Boyle
  • Silvia Collatina as Mae Freudstein
  • Dagmar Lassander as Laura Gittleson
  • Giovanni De Nava as Dr. Freudstein
  • Daniela Doria as the first female victim
  • Gianpaolo Saccarola as Daniel Douglas
  • Carlo De Mejo as Mr. Wheatley
  • Kenneth A. Olsen as Harold (credited as John Olson)
  • Elmer Johnsson as the Cemetery Caretaker
  • Ranieri Ferrara as a victim
  • Teresa Rossi Passante as Mary Freudstein
  • Lucio Fulci as Professor Mueller (uncredited)


The House by the Cemetery was released in Italy on August 14, 1981.[1]

Home media[edit]

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film in its full uncut version in 2001 with a new transfer.[5] It was re-released by Blue Underground on Blu-ray (as well as a new DVD edition) on 25 October 2011 with a new 2K transfer. [6]

Critical reception[edit]

Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 38%, based on 8 reviews, with a rating average of 4.7/10.[7]

In a contemporary review, Julian Petley (Monthly Film Bulletin) commented that the film had a "Frankenstein theme" but that "the film adds little to the well-worked legend" and that "this would matter less were the film visually richer, but for the most part it is comparatively sober and restrained, at least by Fulci standards"[4] Petley continued that "the film undeniably has its moments–Bob's escape from the cellar; the human debris of Freudstein's laboratory; an attack by a particularly ferocious and tenacious bat; the climactic appearance of the horribly mutated Fruedstein"[4]

Time Out called the film "a hack-work of almost awesome incoherence".[8] Allmovie praised the film, complimenting its atmosphere.[9]


  1. ^ a b Mannika, Eleanor. "The House by the Cemetery". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Quella villa accanto al cimitero (1981)" (in Italian). Archvio del cinema italiano. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Muir 2012, p. 251.
  4. ^ a b c Petley, Julian (1983). "Quella villa accanto al cimitero (The House by the Cemetery)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 50 no. 588. p. 20.
  5. ^ The House by the Cemetery (DVD)|format= requires |url= (help). Lucio Fulci Collection. Anchor Bay Entertainment. 2001 [1981]. ASIN B000059PPN.
  6. ^ "'The House by the Cemetery' Announced for Blu-ray". 2 June 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  7. ^ "The House By The Cemetery (Quella villa accanto al cimitero) (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixter. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  8. ^ Milne, Tom, ed. (1991). The Time Out Film Guide (Second ed.). Penguin Books. p. 304.
  9. ^ Craig Butler. "The House by the Cemetery (1981)". Allmovie. Retrieved 25 June 2012.

Works cited[edit]

  • Muir, John Kenneth (2012). Horror Films of the 1980s. 1. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-47298-7.

External links[edit]