That Villa Next to the Cemetery | Movie Review

that-villaProfessor Norman Boyle is a scientific researcher who intends to continue the studies of Professor Petersen, who died by suicide. To complete the work, he moves with his family to the mansion where his predecessor lived until his death, located in New Whitby near Boston. Since his departure, some mysterious episodes involve his son Bob: a little girl named Mae appears on several occasions to warn him from entering the house.
After moving in, the nighttime quiet is disturbed by strange sounds of unknown origin, but the worst is yet to come. Norman researches Professor Jacob Freudstein, a scientist and the mansion's first owner, who died many years earlier and is buried in the adjoining family cemetery. He learns that the professor was disbarred from the medical order for his cruel experiments on human beings and that Petersen's death may be connected to this shadowy figure. After the discovery of Professor Freudstein's tomb in a room of the house and the opening of the cellar, the site of the experiments, the Boyle couple decide to move; they go to a real estate agency to be assigned other housing, but the owner is later barbarically murdered inside the mansion. Bob's baby sitter also falls under the blows of the mysterious murderer; all of which upsets the Boyle's already precarious family tranquility. When they eventually find the grave empty, they understand the horrible truth: Dr. Freudstein is not dead!

Lucio Fulci has one enormous virtue: he manages to create suspenseful atmospheres and shock the viewer with particularly gruesome scenes without resorting to hyperbolic budgets. He does not deny himself in this film as well, where the presence of MacColl (a Fulci icon) and the talented Malco make the performance rise to the occasion. The screenplay is a bit confusing at times, but this is remedied by the pacing and dynamism of the story, which keep it from being boring; in addition, the ending, which leaves little hope for the protagonists, is another trademark that could not be missed. The special effects by another great of Italian genre cinema such as Giannetto De Rossi, always ready to feed the appetites of fans of the crudest splatter, are excellent, as is the soundtrack created by Walter Rizzati, at some junctures quite engaging. One of the few flaws of this film is the name chosen for the main subject: Freudstein--perhaps with a little more imagination--but Fulci is also that.

Review by Maxena

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Barbara Torretti
Barbara Torretti
Editor and moderator of the DarkVeins community. Passionate about horror cinema, I also do reviews and interviews pertaining to the film, music and art circuit.

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