20 October 2016



I absolutely loved this top-notch 'haunted house' movie. This is my favourite genre of horror films, and I'm always disappointed when I'm watching one of these films and it turns out to be lame, or poorly-executed. THE LAST HOUSE ON CEMETERY LANE is neither of these things, I'm happy to report. I'm feeling confident when I say that it absolutely lives up to its initial promise.

The DVD box is sooooo sexy. I'm stroking it as I write this. The cardboard slipcover (mmmmm, cardboard...!) has a gorgeous picture of an obviously haunted house on the front, complete with ravens and headstones and other graveyard-y paraphernalia. A most attractive cover indeed...!

I must admit that I wasn't expecting too much from the film because of its slightly clunky title. I'm always buying horror films with the word 'house' in them and then feeling cheated when they turn out not to be great. I don't feel cheated with this film, however.

It's not a load of stupid CGI or Hollywood Hogwash either. It has ordinary believable actors in it and a brilliant gripping storyline. In several wee nutshells, here's what happens...

John Davies is a horror movie writer. Yaaaaay! Things are looking up already. He's suffering from a touch of writers' block and thinks that a move from the chaos of London to the peace and quiet of an old Welsh manor house will help free up that blockage.

Personally, I think that you should just write where you are, if you know what I mean. If a writer didn't write anything until his psyche and his surroundings were one hundred percent ordered and serene, then he'd never write anything. Sometimes, you just have to resign yourself to writing in chaos. Trust me, I know...!

Anyway, people in films never listen to my advice. Off John toddles to his holiday let for the summer, only to be informed by his real estate lady that he's just walked right onto the set of fantastic 'Seventies horror film BURNT OFFERINGS, starring Oliver Reed, Bette Davis and Karen Black...

That is to say, he's got the whole house to himself except for the attic. An old blind lady called Alice lives up there. Her door is locked. She never goes out. No-one ever comes to see her. (Then how the f**k does she collect her pension, see the doctor, even eat, tell me that? Film-makers are always forgetting to feed their shut-ins...!) She'll be no trouble. John won't even know she's there...

I've seen BURNT OFFERINGS many times. I know what happens to summer tenants who agree to stay on in a house with an infirm, elderly lady silently occupying the top floor. I'd certainly never agree to these creepy terms myself. Clearly, however, John hasn't ever seen the film. Although he's not happy about the upstairs tenant, he decides to stay.

Of course, when the inevitable supernatural occurrences start, well, occurring, John can't help but wonder what the hell kind of person he's got living above him. One night, when it all becomes too much for him, he takes an axe, THE SHINING-style, and breaks down the attic door...

As I said earlier, this isn't a silly Hollywood film. It's real and terrifyingly spooky and well-constructed. There's some super-eerie music to help ramp up the tension and the house is a great location for a horror movie.

The stuff with the olde-timey music on the record-player scared the living daylights out of me and I couldn't sleep after watching the film for thinking about 'fallen angels' (don't ask!), and wondering if they would consider me a big enough sinner to be worth coming after in the dead of night with their massive swords poised...

The love story between John and his new neighbour Cassie is sweet and touching. Their getting-to-know-you dialogue is real and believable and is just spot-on, really. I said earlier that these are real, believable people as opposed to, say, George Clooney or Brad Pitt, so the whole thing, to re-use a word I've just used twice, is all utterly believable.

There are affectionate homages to other horror film classics here besides BURNT OFFERINGS and THE SHINING. There's a moment straight out of the original John Carpenter HALLOWEEN movie towards the end of the film, but luckily for John, he clearly had seen that movie and knew how to deal with the problem. See if you can isolate the incident to which I'm referring. I have every confidence in you, my little horror peeps...!

I also get a very FRIDAY THE 13TH vibe from the end of the film, namely, the bits where dear Mommy Voorhees is running around like a mad thing trying to lay hands on the last surviving camper from Camp 'Slaughtered Horribly While Wearing Tiny Knickers' or whatever it's called.

I love that the director of THE LAST HOUSE ON CEMETERY LANE obviously loves the horror genre and holds it in high esteem. This bodes well for the viewer. There was one tiny puzzling thing at the end of the film but I'm not even going to say what it is because it's not even that important. This movie would be a terrific addition to your Halloween to-watch pile. You have been told...


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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