Not a complicated plot, (Fulci's films rarely were) and with very little twists, turns or much in the way of story telling, this film isn't about the story, it's about the ride through slow motion gore soaked scenes and tense, if badly dubbed, creepy children scenes.
When a colleague of Dr. Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco) named Dr. Peterson is found dead in his large, old house in Boston in a cemetery, Boyle is asked to reside there for a short while to continue the man's research. He relocates from New York to the country house with his wife, Lucy (cult Italian gore actress, Catriona MacColl) and their young, floppy haired son, Bob (Giovanni Frezzi) - Yes, Bob.
Before setting off, Bob is anxious, and believes that a little girl in a photograph is warning him to stay away.
But this is a horror film, so Bob's fears are dismissed instantly and the family move in. It isn't long, though, before they begin to regret their decision and Bob makes a new friend, Mae (Silvia Collatina).
I really enjoy this film. It's creepy in places, and although badly dubbed, and generally not the most exciting characters, the children in this film are damn creepy. There are hefty amounts of gore done with good old fashioned special effects, make up and props! Excellent!
Fulci loved his slow motion gore. It's like he wanted to make the audience slowly suffer through the death of the character as much as the character does! That, or he just really loved blood splatters in slow motion! There are quite a lot of violent deaths in this film, but nothing that would have you screaming nowadays, but there are unsettling and inventive scenes, certainly.
They also reveal the 'creature'. While this can often be a mistake in film, this film carries it off spectacularly, creating a grotesque and nightmarish villain of the piece which is reminiscent of something from Greek myth or "Silent Hill". They also don't reveal too much too early, however, and while the plot is not exactly complex or even very clever, the slow, nail biting chase scenes are effective because you don't quite know what's going on.
A real cult favourite with famous fans including Wednesday 13, this film is an excellent example of early 80s low budget Italian Splatters. Filmed entirely in English primarily by non-native speakers, it has an oddly dreamlike hue to it, a quality which I think masks the lack of epic storytelling very well, and creates a good playing field for the gore.
Another level of creep is added by an odd sub-story running in the background with a childish friendship, and the history of the house. Although not fully explored, and kind of clumsily done, some of these scenes are the most interesting non-gory scenes in the film.
Fulci has been condemned in the past for being misogynistic, and while his female characters are generally nothing but screaming gore fodder, he's not exaclty alone in the genre in this, and I don't tend to dwell much on it. Many horror ladies spend most of their scream...sorry, screen time panicking and getting hacked up :P
A good, gory 'what lurks in the basement?' kind of film that will keep you occupied, if not heavily taxed in the brain department!
[Image: Fulvia Film]