The House by the Cemetery (1981)

The House by the Cemetery tells the semi-incoherent tale of the Boyle family who doesn’t have the greatest realtor in the world. Norman Boyle is a professor of something or other at a college in New York City. Along with Norman, the Boyles consist of a drug-dependent wife and a little blonde kid with gigantic lips named Bobby who was dubbed by what sounds like a drag queen with very little aptitude for impersonating males.

Norman’s taken the job of finishing the research of a colleague who has committed suicide and killed his mistress. Norman also wants to look into the suicide. Why do people always want to look into that kind of stuff in these movies? Maybe the dead guy was just nuts!

It doesn’t really matter though in this case since Norm’s investigation consists of hanging out at the library and listening to an audio tape.

Once the Boyles roll into town, the only house available is the one the dead guy inhabited. It’s a nice two story, two bath, five bedroom, maniac cannibal in the basement affair that sits on five acres of graves! Most scary of all though is that it rents for only $450 a month!

Bobby is of course one of those Italian-horror-movie-kids who sees strange things, hears voices and plays with children who have been dead a century. When his parents find him though, he’s not playing with a girl, but a broken doll!

There’s no time to worry about Bobby’s lame attempts at pretend though because a mannequin loses its head and blood gushes from it! And it turns out to be the spitting image of the new babysitter!


The movie tries to play it up like she’s evil since most semi-attractive babysitters in films are evil, but she ends up getting her throat slit like everybody else, so all the time spent with her mysterious looks and non-sequitur responses to the Boyles’ blathering is completely pointless.

And a memo to renters and prospective homeowners alike: if the house you’re looking at has the basement door boarded up like it’s the farmhouse from Night of the Living Dead, you might want to have the realtor show you a few other places.

A vicious bat attack finally sends the Boyles back to their realtor in search of a house where there aren’t so many vicious bat attacks.


And as if cranky flying mammals weren’t icky enough, we find out that this is the old Freudstein place and that Dr. Freudstein was one of those turn of the century doctors who got himself in trouble after doing unspeakable experiments!

Bobby’s pretend girlfriend tells him that Mrs. Freudstein isn’t buried in the cemetery. Norman finds out that Dr. Freudstein isn’t buried where he’s supposed to be either. Then the wife finds a tomb hidden in the middle of the living room floor! (It was under a rug! Most of us would’ve missed that!)

Norman’s response is that all these houses have indoor tombs in the living room because in the winter the ground would freeze. It made sense until you remembered that they lived right next to a regular cemetery!

It turns out that Dr. Freudstein is alive and not so well and living in the basement! He slaughters anyone stupid enough to go into the basement and somehow uses their sliced up corpses to keep himself alive.


Basically, this guy is not much of a problem, unless you happen to be in the basement. In what must be one of the dumbest moments in Boyle family history, the entire Boyle family gets themselves trapped in the basement!

I was giddy with excitement as I had been waiting for over an hour to see the entire family wiped out. Sadly, Bobby escapes. And into a time-bending ending that will leave you wondering what Henry James ever did to be quoted in a Lucio Fulci film!

Not surprisingly, the ending makes no sense and most of the things that happened in the movie didn’t add up. The professor killing his mistress, the townspeople saying that Norman had previously visited the town with his daughter, the thing with the babysitter and the mannequin – what did any of it have to do with anything? Passable if you value gore over competent storytelling.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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