Rewatched May 22, 2012
Neil C’s review:
Arrow have just released this on blu-ray so I added it to my rental queue for another look. It’s the final film in Lucio Fulci's loose trilogy whose previous installments were City of the Living Dead and The Beyond.
Paolo Malco, his wife Catriona MacCall & young son move from New York to Boston for six months – Malco is finishing a research study into suicide began by his predecessor who (would you believe it) committed suicide. They move into a house by a cemetery – MacCall doesn’t like it and wants to go back to New York – she hears clanking sounds and child-like cries (although there are references to her being on medication.) But there are other horrors to contend with: a snooty estate agent, an uncommunicative nanny, a gravestone in the living room floor, a viciously demented bat, and (spoiler alert!) Dr. Freudstein who lives in the cellar – a mad former surgeon, now a half-zombified creature who needs to kill in order to regenerate his cells (or something.)
At 87 mins it’s short on incident, long on atmosphere, with the somnambulistic acting (and sometimes direction) adding to what the films biggest fans refer to as its “dream-like” ambience. There’s also plenty of blood and gore, but what seems to horrify and disturb viewers the most is the child who plays the young son Bob. Apart from the bee-stung lips and girlish blond bob, there’s the voice he has been dubbed with. How can I describe it? It’s a high-pitched, monotonous whine.
As usual with some Italian horror there’s a lot that doesn’t make any sense, the most ludicrous scene being the aftermath of the brutal murder of the estate-agent in the house one night. As her body is dragged across the floor, from living room to kitchen and into the cellar – it leaves a considerable trail of blood and gore. The following morning the nanny Anna is seen cleaning it up with a cloth & bucket of water (this marks Anna out as the killer or an accomplice – but she ends up butchered much like everyone else), MacCall comes into the kitchen, looks around and asks Anna what she’s doing – and Anna replies “I made coffee!” as if mopping up after a bloody massacre is some sort of every day occurrence. A lot of people explain these lapses in logic as the dream-like nature of these films, but I’m not sure I buy that.