The House by the Cemetery is a horror film by the late Lucio Fulci, released in the year 1981. It is the third and final film that he did with actress Catriona MacColl, and is the unofficial third entry of the "Gates of Hell trilogy", after City of the Living Dead and The Beyond (both of which starred MacColl).
It is a mind screwy slasher film, where the Boyle family (consisting of Norman, Lucy and their son Bob) move into a new house due to Norman's work. There they encounter its deadly secret: A certain Dr. Freudstein who has been hiding in the basement's cellar for decades, prolonging his life by salvaging the organs of those who set foot in his old house.
It was one of the Video Nasties.
This film features the examples of:
- Apocalyptic Log: The cassette detailing Dr. Peterson's last moments is found by Norman.
- Artificial Zombie: Dr. Freudstein by his own hands so that he can keep himself alive.
- An Axe to Grind: Norman defends himself with an axe at one point.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Dr. Freudstein succeeds in killing both Norman and Lucy and most likely Bob as well. Either way, he is still in the house waiting for the next unfortunate victim.
- Bald of Evil: Dr. Freudstein. His flesh is too dead to grow any hair.
- Bat Out of Hell: When she goes down to the basement, Lucy is attacked by an extremely aggressive bat that gets caught in her hair and then bites her hand and refuses to let go.
- Body Horror: Dr Freudstein - who despite replacing his body parts with those of other people is actively rotting and has maggots and worms, amongst assorted gore, falling from his wounds. His face is pretty damn freakish, too - although it's difficult to discern if that's a mask or his actual face. Oddly enough, there's also no trace of his Glowing Eyes of Doom when he's finally revealed, despite them being the thing that cause Bob to shit himself and run back upstairs.
- Cassandra Truth: Bob, told by Mae, tries to tell his family to not shift into the Freudstein House. Needless to say, the adults don't listen.
- Creepy Basement: Dr. Freudstein's base of operations.
- The Darkness Gazes Back: Bob is scared by Freudstein's yellow eyes peering at him through the basement. Strangely, his eyes are not yellow when he is seen in his full glory.
- Death by Sex: The young couple in the opening.
- Gainax Ending: Dr. Freudstein manages to kill both Norman and Lucy (though we only see her being dragged from the ladder and don't see her death outright), but when he sets out for Bob, the late Mrs. Freudstein pulls Bob to safety into the realm of the dead. Or into the past. Or Bob just snapped mentally and imagined running off with his ghost friend at the moment of death, sparing himself the gruesome death he would endure.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Bob sees a pair in the dark basement and promptly freaks out.
- Gorn: In typical Fulci film fashion, Dr. Freudstein goes out his way to dish out the most gory and sadistic deaths as possible.
- Haunted House: All kinds of undead business surrounds this house.
- Hollywood New England: Averted. Outdoor scenes (notably the library and the store with the mannequin) were filmed in Concord, Massachusetts. Both buildings look almost exactly the same nearly three decades later.
- Knife Nut: Freudstein prefers knives.
- Mind Screw: the original US release of the film had the studio underlings mislabel several of the film reels sent to theaters, leading to the middle sections of the film getting mixed up; as such, the nanny's death takes place earlier than it should, leading to a scene of her appearing afterwords after her death scene.
- No-Sell: Attempting to stab Freudstein does nothing to get a reaction out of him, but we find out he has sludge and maggots for blood.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Dr. Freudstein does it once at the ending.
- Psychopathic Manchild: It is hinted that Freudstein might be one, as he can be heard crying like a child few times. The film even ends with a quote that says "No one will ever know if children are monsters or monsters are children".
- Red Herring:
- Hints of Norman's past in the house.
- Ann, the explicitly weird and creepy babysitter, who...isn't part of the problem at all and ends up killed off like everyone else.
- There's No Kill Like Overkill: Laura's death at the hands of Dr. Freudstein, Stabbing, slicing, and it almost had eye-gouging as well.
- Video Nasty