The House by the Cemetery – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: The House by the Cemetery (1981)
Release Date: 2020
Rating: NOT RATED
Runtime: 86 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Blue Underground
Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR10 / Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 8/25/20
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Ania Pieroni, Dagmar Lassander, Giovanni De Nava, Daniela Doria, Teresa Rossi Passante
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Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
“The House by the Cemetery” was a 1981 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci. Fulci is best known for also directing the films “Zombie” (1979), “City of the Living Dead” (1980), “The Beyond” (1981), “Manhattan Baby” (1982), “The New York Ripper” (1982), “Aenigma” (1987), and “Demonia” (1990).
The screenplay to The House by the Cemetery, inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft idea and a story by Elisa Briganti, was co-written by Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Lucio Fulci. Sacchetti had previously worked with Fulci co-writing the iconic films “Zombie” (1979), “City of the Living Dead” (1980), “The Beyond” (1981), and “Manhattan Baby” (1982). Mariuzzo, also a director, also worked with Fulci as a screenwriter on the films “Contraband” (1980) and“Aenigma” (1987). Safe to say the story to this film comes from two other folks who worked on some of Fulci’s finest films.
As the film starts up, we see some horrific things inside of a house that would leave most anyone unsettled. We later see a photo of a young girl in the window of this New England home. The story here involves a family comprised of “Dr. Norman Boyle” (Paolo Malco), “Lucy Boyle” (Catriona MacColl), and their young son “Bob Boyle” (Giovanni Frezza). As we are first introduced to the family we see them packing in New York City and preparing for a move to New England. As the mother is packing the son Bob starts starring of into space and insisting that a girl was trying to tell him something. The mother dismisses this as nothing more than an imaginary friend. We later find out the young girl in the photo to be “Mae Freudstein” (Silvia Collatina), the daughter of the previous owner of the home of the mad “Dr. Freudstein” (Giovanni De Nava). See, this house is not only haunted but also has something evil lurking in the basement as well as a very tragic past.
The House by the Cemetery is not only a creepy residence but also one that not only terrifies the Boyle family as well as takes and has taken the lives of a few people along the way. Bob continues to talk to the girl Mae and even follows her to the cemetery where they look at a grave. It’s obvious to Bob this girl is there and she’s trying to warn him of something but she’s not visible to his parents — namely to his mother.
Things involving the research that the late former resident Dr. Freudstein was working on are beginning to fascinate the husband/father Dr. Boyle and have left him wanting to get in the basement. Meanwhile, the wife/mother Lucy has hired a babysitter “Ann” (Ania Pieroni) to take on some of the tasks for her, but she cannot help but be creeped out by the girl who seems creeped out in general by the house itself. There’s possibly some reasoning to that, but I won’t go into detail to avoid dishing out and “spoilers” here. Let’s just say that this proves to be one of the Italian horror director Lucio Fulci’s finer films.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“The House by the Cemetery” arrives on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format from a 4K restoration that was released last year on Blu-ray. The movie is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of High Dynamic Range.
First off, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K disc itself here. This is using a BD-66 (66 gigabytes) disc, 64.0 gigabytes total, and 54.1 gigabytes for the film itself. According to IMDb, this movie was shot on 35MM film and has received a 4K DI (digital intermediate).
Things look really sharp here and come with a thick sharp amount of film grain all throughout. The 4K restoration and 4K resolution, combined with HDR, give us a major improvement in detail and even the color timing has been changed up a tad bit. This looks impeccable for a 1981 film made on this budget. I’ll go on more about that a bit more, but first let’s take a glimpse at some comparisons between this new 2020 4K UHD Blu-ray, the 2019 Blu-ray, and the original 2011 Blu-ray.
SOURCES: left (2020 4K UHD Blu-ray), middle (2019 Blu-ray), right (2011 Blu-ray)
I also have a Blu-ray VS. 4K UHD Blu-ray video comparison slideshow I’ve put together on YouTube in 2160p (4K) resolution. It can be found below.
As you can tell things have sure changed a lot in 9 years, and even have in 1 year. A true 4K resolution for a 4K restoration is always the right way to go, and then you put HDR behind it and it looks even better. You get a more accurate sense of color & flesh tones, realistic lighting (especially shading), and a perfectly solid black level. The high bitrates that the 4K UHD Blu-ray are capable of making the film grain be able to finally be perfectly emphasized, intact, and truly beautiful to witness from start to finish.
Releases on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format, now that they’ve joined the game (so-to-speak), have become expected demo material with each of these catalog horror films and this is no exception. Simply put, The House by the Cemetery on 4K looks absolutely stunning! This is a must-have for any horror fan and is, yes is, worth upgrading even if you already have the 2019 Blu-ray. That said, this earns itself every bit of a perfect 5 rating for video quality. The major studios really should take a close look at these 4K restorations and the 4K UHD Blu-ray releases that the folks at Blue Underground have released so far. They [Blue Underground] are putting out some downright amazing 4K catalog titles.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“The House by the Cemetery” arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray with English Dolby Atmos with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core, for those without the proper equipment to fully decode the format. If you’re not even capable of decoding lossless audio, fear not, as that core even goes as far as to contain a Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) mix. There also are some other sound mixes found on the 4K disc like an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and 1.0 Mono mixes, as well as the Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono even — for the purists out there.
Blue Underground, as a distributor since the Blu-ray format launched, has always been on the cutting edge and fearless to use the highest quality and largest speaker configurations possible, as well as retain the original sound mixes in a lossless format. They’ve always covered both sides of home entertainment sound well, with those beings the latest & greatest as well as the original and in the highest quality. So, it should be absolutely no surprise that you get a Mono film such as this that was dubbed delivered in a Dolby Atmos mix, with height channel speakers (5.1.2 or 7.1.2 or such).
I’ll only be covering the Dolby Atmos mix here, so let me first make that abundantly clear. So, as the film starts up with some nice use of the height channels thanks to the film’s music (original score) by Walter Rizzati. It [the music] also gets a nice amount of rear channel use, leaving you feeling completely surrounded not just in a circle, but also with sound bouncing off the ceiling (or coming from the ceiling, depending on your setup). The scenes here involving creepy stuff are sure to get more of a scare or excitement out of you now when presented in an Atmos configuration. Blue Underground has done a great job at working with Mono source material over the years and turning it to surround and now they’ve gone even one step further. It should be no surprise that this mix is top-notch and pure reference material worthy of a perfect 5 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials physically on this release include:
The 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc includes the following bonus material:
- Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of “Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films”
- Deleted Scene – Bat Attack Aftermath (1:00 – HD) is in rough quality but is cool to see.
- Theatrical Trailers are presented in a variety of quality. The International trailer is in a 2160p 4K resolution video with HDR10 form of high dynamic range and Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono 2.0 Mono sound. The U.S Trailer is in 1080p HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound. The trailers here include:
- International Trailer (3:22 – 4K)
- U.S. Trailer (1:47 – HD)
- TV Spot (0:32 – HD) has DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono sound.
- Poster & Still Galleries can be navigated using the chapter forward and backward buttons |>> and >>| or you can just sit back and watch it as a slideshow. These include:
- Poster & Still Gallery #1 (1:13:04 – HD)
- Poster & Still Gallery #2 (2:21 – HD)
The Blu-ray Disc includes the real majority of bonus materials, which are presented in a variety of HD and SD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. These include the following:
- “Meet the Boyles“ (14:17 – HD) consists of interviews with stars Catriona MacColl and Paolo Malco.
- “Children of the Night” (12:18 – HD) consists of interviews with stars Giovanni Frezza and Silvia Collatina.
- “Tales of Laura Gittelson” (8:56 – HD) is an interview with star Dagmar Lassander.
- “My Time with Terror” (9:21 – HD) consists of an interview with star Carlo de Mejo. This was done as a joint venture between Blue Underground and Red Shirt Pictures.
- “A Haunted House Story” (14:07 – HD) consists of interviews with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti and co-writer Elisa Briganti. This also was done as a joint venture between Blue Underground and Red Shirt Pictures.
- To Build a Better Death Trap” (21:32 – HD) consists of interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Maurizio Trani, Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, and Actor Giovanni De Nava. This also was done as a joint venture between Blue Underground and Red Shirt Pictures.
- “House Quake” (14:46 – HD) consists of an interview with co-writer Giorgio Mariuzzo.
- “Catriona MacColl Q&A” (29:37 – HD) features the film’s leading lady. This took place at the Spaghetti Cinema Festival in Luton, UK on May 10th, 2014. This Q&A was moderated by Calum Waddell.
- “Calling Dr. Freudstein“ (19:34 – HD) consists of an interview with Stephen Thrower (author of “Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci”).
Overall, the bonus materials here are very impressive but really are just the extras from the 2019 Limited Edition 3-Disc Blu-ray release. The only things missing here from the 2019 release are the CD of the film’s soundtrack and a Blu-ray of the film. For those not wanting those two physical extras that didn’t already own that version, I don’t think that will be a deal-breaker. What you get here is a total of 131 minutes of extras on just the Blu-ray disc, and then there are promotional materials like trailers and photo galleries on the 4K disc. Hell, the International trailer is actually in 4K with HDR10!! No joke. This is enough to leave any fan of this film pleased with the set of bonus materials. It’s a shame we don’t get anything new, sure, but keep in mind that some of these extras were just released last year.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“The House by the Cemetery” was one of Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci’s finer cinematic efforts in his very successful career. The film’s story is really a bit simple, however does have its scary parts, but it is really the acting and the graphic horror later that all make it work. It’s creepy. Simple as that. A lot of Lucio Fulci’s films, straight up, are creepy as hell. This one is sure to leave you freaked out if you’ve actually never seen it.
Now, the true highlight (in my opinion) of this 4K UHD Blu-ray release is actually the 4K itself. Imagine that? Yes, the video quality is exceptional here and truly the stuff to put on an expensive 4K or 8K television and impress the hell out of your friends who don’t like new mainstream stuff. This is a 1981 film and it looks like it was filmed yesterday, almost, obviously, the clothing, set decorations, signs (if any), and cars will date the movie towards the early Eighties but what I said is nearly true. This really looks incredible for a 1981 film. The House by the Cemetery on 4K earned every bit of the perfect rating for video quality.
Next, the sound here is an improvement all of the previous Blu-ray releases as the folks at Blue Underground (always cutting edge) have decided yet again to give a film from Mono source a Dolby Atmos sound mix. That means you’ll not only get some great use of the rear channels for music and sound effects but also get to hear the use of your height channel speakers (if you’re on a capable speaker configuration and AV receiver). Dialogue, dubbed as most of it may be, is delivered spot-on from the center channel speaker all through and there are zero reasons you’ll need to make any volume adjustment. The front channel speakers, left & right, get used for most of the film’s musical score and sound effects. The front speakers really do retain the most of the basic original Mono mix, only spacing things out for effects in rears and height channels, as well as mixing the spoken dialogue into strictly the center channel.
Finally, the bonus materials here are very impressive and include everything you got on the previous 2019 Limited Edition 3-Disc Blu-ray set, with the exception of the Blu-ray of the film and the CD soundtrack. Some extras are included on the 4K disc itself, like promotional materials. In fact, there’s an international trailer for the film on there actually presented in 4K with HDR. That’s truly awesome. You total just the Blu-ray extras up and you get 131 minutes roughly of content, then add in the promos and image galleries (as slideshows) and you’ll get another 70 minutes or so, technically. This is a very nice set of extras, even if you don’t get anything new. One should consider the extras found here are from a 2019 release last year and might be actually new to those who never picked up that release.
I’ll truly say that “The House by the Cemetery” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is a highly recommended upgrade, even if you owned the latest (2019) Blu-ray, as this release truly shows off how a 4K restoration can look incredible when it’s done right. The major studios should, as I’ve said above, take a look at this release and others from Blue Underground if they want to see how to do 4K right.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials