Fuck! You know how they say that one should never blindly trust all the information sources, especially the ones you find on the Internet. Well, I am usually quite careful and skeptical, but I got bitten this time. At least kind of. There is a silver lining to every cloud and it is true here too. Let me explain what happened.
I am writing this text on March 2nd, 2010, and I watched Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero just a couple of weeks ago, maybe for the tenth time. I am not sure, because I do not really keep a count. Anyway, a new 2009 release by Arrow Video dropped into my mailbox today, and I watched it using fast forward to locate the scenes I was interested in. "Why?", you may ask, and that is of course a good question. Indeed, why watch a movie again after such a short time and use fast forward?
The reason is simple. After watching the film a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Web and tried to do a little bit of research there. I ended up reading Wikipedia, where somebody had written down the whole plot of Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero. It was very accurate work, down to the rather small detail. Or, to be precise, so I thought.
This is what the article claims. The emphasis was added by me:
[...] As Bob clings to the topmost rung, he sees his mother pulled down, her head battered by each metal step down. Freudstein finishes off Lucy by ramming her head into the concrete cellar floor, splattering it like a melon. [...]
"Splattering it like a melon"? I was positive my EC Ultrabit Limited Edition of The House by the Cemetery did not contain such a scene. Lucy is dragged down the stairs, all right, but her head is definitely not "splattered". In fact the scene fades away and moves right on to the next scene, with no violence shown.
The supposedly missing scene was the most important reason I ordered the Arrow Video release. I wanted to make sure I am not missing anything, because Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero is one of my favourite films. And guess what? Yeah, you guessed it. There is no such scene in this version either! I am only left wondering what the fuck the Wikipedia article writer was thinking. It is certainly a theoretical possibility that he has a different release that contains the scene he describes, but I really do not think so. He probably just got carried away and imagined something that does not really exist in the movie. I have certainly seen many versions, and I know that none of them contains a scene like that.
If you do know a real, existing release that contains the head splattering scene, please contact me immediately.
That the missing scene was nowhere to be found was not my only disappointment today. The Arrow Video has made a new, dubious world record here. For fuck's sake, this company has published the single ugliest cover art I have ever seen! Unbelievable. I have lived through the whole era of BETAMAX and VHS video tapes, and have probably seen literally thousands of different cover arts and movie posters.
I thought I had seen everything, the bad, the average, the good, the great and what not. No, it turns out I was wrong. It is beyond words how piss-ugly this cover actually is. For sure, Dr. Freudstein and the house look bad, but what about the female victim there? Absolute disaster. I swear to you I cannot look at this fucking pathetic cover art for more than maybe five seconds at a time, and even then I start to feel physically sick, wanting to puke. Yes, the cover is so awful, it is a sure way to turn the potential customers away, since I cannot imagine anyone wanting to buy this after having seen the disgusting cover. Give me a fucking break!
Fortunately it is now time for the good news. The Arrow Video release's picture quality is very good. It is better than the Ultrabit Edition, and is a pleasure to watch. I doubt it could be improved much from this, so simply a great job there.
What is more, the Arrow Video guys have included a never before seen, deleted scene in the Extras section. What an incredible find and a super cool addition! This scene lacks audio, and its exact location in the film should be right after the bat attack. In fact, the scene is a direct continuation of it. Again, the guys have done a fantastic job to dig out a scene like that, and I really respect their hard work. If the cover art were not so fucking ugly, this quite affordable release would be just perfect.
What about the movie itself? Well, as I said, this is one of my favourites. First of all, there is a beautiful, haunting musical score by Walter Rizzati. Among the Fulci gothic horrors, I personally think this score is probably the best, but it is really hard to make sensible comparisons. Zombi 2, Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi and L'Aldila all have such great scores.
Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero is a simple, great horror movie with fantastic cinematography and many aesthetically pleasing scenes. I also like the fact that the kids are not given any special treatment by Fulci. In the house by the cemetery, everybody is equally in danger and is a potential victim. There are plenty of very suspenseful moments, and enough violence to make the squeamish feel ill. Yes, this is good stuff.
I sometimes feel that people give Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero less credit than to some other Fulci horror films, but I certainly hope this is just a feeling with no real truth to it. If you pick a totally uncut version with good picture quality, I am pretty sure you will enjoy it. If you like the italian horror in general, then I am absolutely sure you will love this. It is good, high quality work by Fulci, and does not disappoint.
Hell, if you can live with the atrociously ugly cover art, I can even recommend the Arrow Video DVD. Go grab it, as it does not cost much, and there is nothing wrong with the DVD itself. It is just the cover art that sucks.