10 June 2016



This is my kind of movie. A nice gory horror film with a fabulous old gothic-style haunted house as the central character. Oh, and it's situated right next to an old graveyard, which is presumably haunted as well. And there's a creepy-little-girl-ghost in it too, who tries to warn the lead little boy not to go in the house. Naturally, this does no good because it's his parents' new house and he's got to go where they go, haha. Anyway, let's take a closer look at the house by the cemetery, shall we...?

Okay, so Dr. and Mrs. Norman Boyle (he's not a medical doctor, just the academic kind...!) are moving into the aforementioned haunted house so that Norman can do some research into why the previous owner went cuckoo-bananas there and murdered his mistress before killing himself. It's as good a reason to move into a new gaff as any, I suppose.

Lucy, Norman's missus, reacts badly to the atmosphere in the house. It gives her the willies, the heebie-jeebies and every other rude-sounding feeling you'd care to mention. Little Bob, their son, doesn't seem to mind it much as he scampers freely around the haunted graveyard with his new best friend, the creepy-little-ghost-girl, who's stopped trying to keep Bob away from the house. I suppose there's not much point now. Not now that he's actually living in the bloody place...!

Bob is truly an extraordinary-looking child, which I'm sure the film-makers were fully aware of when they cast him. He has gorgeous blonde hair and huge full red lips that would put Mick Jagger to shame. I think he's even wearing lipstick in a couple of scenes to accentuate his most startling physical characteristic.

He probably grew up into a handsome guy, though I'm not going to look him up on Google Images in case he's balding now with a comb-over and an enormous hipster beard. Let's all just remember Bob as the chubby little cherub he was back then, shall we...?

Bob's babysitter, Anna, is a beautiful young woman but she's as weird as they come. She seems to have a 'shining' thing going on with the house. Lucy has a queer feeling about her. But Anna's not the queerest thing about the new house. That would be the cellar. Well, you knew it'd either be the cellar or the attic where the creepy s**t went down, didn't you? Nothing scary or supernatural ever seems to happen in the sitting-room between the fish-tank and the vacuum-cleaner...!

I'm sorry to report that the Boyles' cellar is a veritable hotbed of murderous activity. The viewer knows that gruesome killings have happened there in the past, but no traces of these attacks are visible to the new owners. Dad is attacked by a psychopathic bat when he goes on a wee recce, though, and this deeply unpleasant incident puts the entire family off the house.

The bat attack is surprisingly graphic. The little guy (Well, actually, he's a flippin' monster!) clamps his razor-sharp choppers around Dad's mitt and clings on for dear life. There's a lot of blood but then again, the entire film is a gore-fest. Did I mention that it's the third instalment in a trilogy, by the way? The GATES OF HELL trilogy also includes CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND.

Anyway, whoever- or whatever is hiding out in the Boyles' basement has obviously been squatting there for some time and he/she/it has a real fondness for stabbing folks dumb enough to come down to the basement till their blood is flowing in rivers across the cold stone floor. Ain't that poetic, folks?

Who's down there? And will the family wise up to the grisly below-stairs shenanigans before it's too late, by which I mean will they be slaughtered horribly and their remains made into lampshades, old-lady doilies and antimacassars? Nah, of course that won't happen. Or will it...? Heh-heh-heh. I'm just messing with your minds.

There are some extremely graphic murders in the film, making it a video-nasty at its time of release. The special effects are terrific, though they might put you off eating spaghetti bolognese for life, like they did me! The atmosphere is suitably spooky and the villain, when he/she/it is revealed, is top-notch.

There are a few minor inconsistencies in the film, which I won't go into because I want you guys to have the fun of spotting them for yourselves. It's like the film-makers were going to take things a certain way and then they forgot to finish the storylines.

It's no biggie, however. These little imperfections just add to the quaint charm and fun of one of the goriest, stabbiest and most blood-splattered horror films you'll ever see. They don't call dear old Lucio Fulci 'the Godfather of Gore' for nothing, you know.

With the amount of carnage in THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, however, it looks more like he gave birth to the slasher genre in a chaos of forceps, midwives, stitches, clean towels and boiling water. For this reason, I'm re-naming him 'the Mammy of Gore' and I hope he's happy about it...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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