Main      Site Guide    

It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

House By the Cemetery (1981)

[3.5 turkeys]

This movie confused the heck out of me. That's really nothing new as far as bad movies go -- most of them are confusing. This one, however, took confusion to new heights. Things happened that seemed to have zero explanation. The viewer is kept hanging on key plot points until the very end of the movie -- when revealing them sooner wouldn't have ruined anything and in actuality would have probably made for a better movie.

I was even confused about what rating I should give it. I ask myself periodically while watching a movie, "What will I rate this?" Generally, my first answer is very close to what the eventual rating will end up being -- things usually only change by a half turkey or so throughout the course of the movie. During this movie, however, my answer was wildly different every time I asked myself that simple question. At first I wanted to give it only one or maybe two turkeys. Then a little later, I thought it might be a classic worth five turkeys. Eventually, I settled on the fair-to-middlin' rating of three and a half turkeys, mostly because I didn't want to think about it anymore.

This movie is about a couple who move into an old house with their young son Bob. Also living with them (apparently -- this is never really explained) is a young woman named Anne, who is Bob's "babysitter." Why Bob needs a babysitter is also never explained, as Bob's mother apparently doesn't work and for the most part she just sits at home. The real reason why Bob needed a babysitter was so the scriptwriters would have someone else to kill off, but even that wasn't a very good excuse in the end.

The house has a cemetery next to it (as per the title) but that never comes into play at all. There is a young girl named Meg who continually warns Bob not to do things (which he then does anyway), and her identity is a closely guarded secret until the very end of the film. I wouldn't dream of giving away this secret, as the movie makers seemed to think this was the greatest part of the story. Well, actually I would give it away if I'd understood it myself -- but since the whole last ten minutes of the movie was insanely stupid and inexplicable, I won't even hazard a guess.

The movie is basically a slasher film, so lots of people get killed in gruesome ways. The really dumb thing about it, though, is that nobody ever seems to know when someone just got killed. Even though blood spatters everywhere, there never seems to be any where someone can find it. The one time that blood is left in a place where it would be impossible not to notice, Anne actually cleans it up without a comment! This would seem to point to the fact that she is in on this whole thing -- and earlier incidents and moments of heavy-handed foreshadowing seem to back this up. But in the end, it is all for naught, and none of this is ever explained.

Probably the worst part about this movie is the music and the sound effects. One of the opening credits reads "Music Copywrite Deaf s.r.l." How appropriate -- only a deaf person could appreciate the soundtrack. I can only assume "s.r.l." means "stupid ridiculous loser" or something like that. The music consists of two chords struck at random throughout most of the film, and the sound effects are so overblown and out of place I laughed more at them than I did at any other single feature of the film. Footsteps on an old wooden floor sound like elephants walking on a woodpile. A woman's head striking a metal step sounds like a hammer striking a huge empty metal drum. When something scary is about to happen, the volume is turned up fifteen notches. The best stupid sound effect is when one character points out the place where a person hung himself. "You know where he hung himself?" the person asks. "Right up there, on that railing." The camera zooms in for a super-closeup on the railing, and suddenly my eardrums were shattered by the loudest crash-chord I think I've ever heard. It was a good twenty decibles louder than everything else in the movie. Worst of all, nothing comes of this railing or the knowledge of where this man hung himself. It's completely unimportant -- just the filmmaker's idea of a spooky moment, I guess.

I can't even begin to describe most of the idiocy in this movie. What can you say about a movie in which the killer hides out in the basement with all of his victims for the entire movie, and nobody ever thinks to look for him there or smells the rotting flesh? My only suggestion is to have patience with this film and don't expect to understand any of it. If you stick it out and just laugh at the dumb stuff, it's quite entertaining.

Scene to Watch for: Anne unbars the basement door.

Best line: "I made coffee."

Things that make you go "Huh?": The dolls.

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

Back to the It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie home page.