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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movie Theatre Recollections: The House By The Cemetery(1981)


I am a regular over at the forums at the great The BodyCount Continues website. They are a great bunch of people, and share a love of the cheesy treasures of the by-gone Golden Era of Slasher Movies. We don't always see eye to eye on some of these gems, but no one is disrespectful, and that's why I appreciate them. Anyways, we were discussing the fabulous Lucio Fulci classic, The House By The Cemetery, and I was in the middle of posting a long winded story about seeing this classic at theatre, when I lost power! So I decided to take it over here to Vitamin Burger, and write the story here. Hell maybe I can make it into a regular feature, memories of seeing the classics on the big screen for the first time( us Slasher Movie freaks love shit like that....it's all about the details baby).


It was in 1984, a full three years after this film had originally been released. That happened often back then, because it took time for foreign films to get a distribution deal for the States, and then usually they were only released to a handful of screens. In many instances, they were only released to the then booming Drive-In circuit. This is were I saw many of the horror and slasher classics that made me who I am today. Our drive-in was called The Isle Of View, I know, what a name? I saw everything from Let's Scare Jessica To Death to Cannibal Ferox at that Drive-In. But that's another story, today we are talking about The Triple, Panama City's version of a grindhouse. It had 3 screens, 2 cavernous monstrosities, and one small cave of a room, that all of the slasher films played, especially the European ones. The Triple was one of those dirty, seedy theatres that repelled you, but attracted you at the same time, it was almost like a dirty love affair. I loved going there almost more than Christmas. The sticky floors comforted me as I trotted down that dark corridor to the smelly little cave, that showed the movies that I loved, and took me to another place, and most of all, scared the shit outta me!

So one Friday night, I was 13 years old, my best friend Joey and I were performing our weekly ritual of trying to find a new horror film to go and see. In the 80's it wasn't uncommon for there to be a new cheesy nugget of gore to hit the theatre every week, if not, we would just watch last week's again! When we spied the ad for The House By The Cemetery, we were on a mission. So we conned Joey's older brother into driving us across town to see the film. Recently The Triple, had gotten into trouble for letting under age kids in to see very gory horror films, therefore, we now had to get an adult to take us. So his older brother or my older sister were usually the victims. My sister was cool, she enjoyed any Horror, and could find something to like about any piece of trash that we drug her to. The brother was not that cool, he liked Horror, but only "well made", and not the "B-Rated" as he called it, that his brother and I devoured as quickly as we could find them. For this reason, I did not have a good reputation with the older brother. I had made hims see several that he didn't care for like Basket Case, but just a week or two prior, I made them sit through a REALLY BAD Italian stinker called "Revenge Of The Dead". The movie infuriated the older brother so bad, that I had to give him his money back for the movie ticket!


So we finally have it all set up and we get to The Triple, and see all of the bums and junkies hanging out on the side of the building. Not really that great of an element for a kid to be spending countless hours hanging around. I guess back in the day, people weren't as concerned about such issues? While standing in line for the tickets, older brother gets an ugly look on his face, and shouts "no fucking way are we seeing this movie"! His arm outstretched, I follow the direction of his fingertip to see what the source of his irritation is. I look at the marquee and see that instead of a gory movie poster, there is a piece of blue construction paper. Across it is the most childish drawing(think Napoleon Dynamite) of a hand and arm holding a bloody axe. In the same childish scrawl, the words "The House By The Cemetery" plastered against it. Older brother was furious, and bellowed, "this is some of that homemade B-Rated shit again" we aren't going. So some serious begging and pleading begins now, I was on the verge of tears. After a few minutes of begging, and me finally agreeing that I will purchase every ones tickets, if he hates the movie, we finally buy our tickets, they were $3.00 by the way. We get in the theatre, and I remember that we see the trailer for A Nightmare On Elm Street for the first time. We are all in quick agreeance that "we wanna see that one", even older brother looks interested. The movie starts, and within the first five minutes, we see two brutal murders, one being the infamous "knife through the back of the head, and out the mouth" scene, and we were hooked. Of course there was some bitching about the painful dubbing job, and especially the little boy Bob. This now has became a horror fan cliche' to diss on this movie, because of that fact. I never let something like bad dubbing get in my way of an otherwise awesome slasher/horror film.


We were delighted at the gore, never before had we seen such visceral on screen murders. We squirmed at the real estate lady getting poked in the neck several times, and then jetting gallons of blood from the wounds. We cracked up at the "bat-attack" scene, and wondered about those now famous Lucio Fulci plot holes. Even big bad older brother was squirming in his seat when Dr. Freudstein was stabbed and maggots came pouring out. The whole movie had us mesmerized by it's outlandishness, and outright blatancy, not to mention the gore was the best we had seen at that time. Maybe because I have such vivid memories of the experience, and it really was an awesome time, despite the begging and bickering, that I love The House By The Cemetery more than any other Fulci film, and that's saying a lot. Hell, I would even place it on my Top Ten Horror list any day! It gets a bad rap for not making a lot of sense and the aforementioned dubbing problems, but that adds to the charm of it all. There was a lot of fun stories about The Triple, like seeing a couple getting it on during a screening of Silent Madness in 3-D, or me sitting on a lady, when I went to see Twice Dead. But now The Triple is an CVS Pharmacy, and all I have is the memories. But I am grateful that I came from an era that were able to see what are now considered the classics of the genre on the big screen in all their glory, aren't you?

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