Sweet House of Horrors, The (1989)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-02-26 11:06

Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Gigliola Battaglini

Reviewed by: Brett H.

”… when I try to imagine the impossible, I would like to return to childhood. Only children can reach the impossible…”

After reviewing the first of Lucio Fulci’s entries in the “House of Doom” unaired TV flicks, The House of Clocks, I figured it’s about time I took a gander at the second half, The Sweet House of Horrors. Unlike the first entry, this one is critically hated and considered one of his worst films. Being a diehard Fulci fan, this was no reason to stop me from purchasing the film, although I must admit it sat on my shelf for quite some time. I was afraid of what was inside that DVD case. I shouldn’t have been afraid. I should have just laughed my ass off. I wish I'd picked it up sooner.

A young couple comes home after a night out and plans to head right to bed, but they don’t plan on sleeping. For a moment they stop and discuss the fact that they need to send the payment for their children’s year at boarding school up in the mountains. It’s clear they love their children as much as they love each other. As they’re heading upstairs, they are brutally attacked by a masked intruder, Fulci starts the film off right as the man gets the back of his head bashed repeatedly and graphically into a wall and the woman gets her head bashed in and eyes ripped out with some sort of meat pounder. The intruder goes to leave and finds the man still alive, so he slashes his fast with a rod and rips his face apart. Vintage Fulci, I smiled and was pretty impressed as the killer disposed of the bodies. And right after that, the movie went straight to hell. And when the movie goes to hell, so does the traditional review format.

The two children, Marco and Sarah go and stay with their only two relatives, their Aunt Marcia (Cinzia Monreale) and Uncle Carlo. At their parents’ funeral, the kids weep and it’s pretty sad. Until they start cracking jokes and busting out laughing. What the hell? The kids make fun of the priest and as he is late for another funeral, he looks at his watch and they decide the funeral is almost over, “it’s about time, I’m famished!” young Marco says. They discuss how their parents died, they obviously don’t know, but they think them dying in a car accident would be a good explanation, “… momma always said that poppa drove like a nut.” So fucking bad… so fucking great! The kids begin talking about their mom finding a birthday letter they had written to her and hidden before they went to school, Marco claims she found it after she was dead. The children lay awake one night to find two flames floating in the air, which naturally are the spirits of their dead mother and father. Their aunt and uncle want to sell the place and save the money for the kids as Marcia doesn’t like the feel of the place. But, the spirits of the kids’ parents won’t let them take the easy way out as they do all they can to prevent this from happening.

Shit shakes and flies all over the place, there’s some strange winds and some weird, big housefly toy comes to life and scares the hell out of Aunt Marcia. To top it all off, the overweight realtor in charge of selling the house (whom the lovely kids call “Old Man Sausage”) is the victim of the spirits moving the stairs on him and he takes a vicious tumble, busting his leg up badly. All the while the kids look and laugh, singing, “Sausage is dying, Sausages is dying!” Later on in the film, the spirits of the parents declare to their kids that they’d never hurt anyone. I guess they forgot about Old Man Sausage as he reveals later on that he’ll never walk again without a cane. The spirits later are seen in a brightly lit human-ish form and are only seen by the children (although the hell they raise can be seen by all), referencing the aforementioned quote. No fucking wonder adults don’t want to see ghosts, they’re all nice to kids but spend the rest of their time fucking with people.

If all this supernatural shit isn’t crazy enough, the man who originally killed the couple at the beginning is hired to paint the house and sees some sheets with blue flowers on them that match the ones he used to wrap the corpses up in and he realizes exactly where he is. He throws a shit fit and has a flashback ‘Nam style (“I’ve got to murder the two of you, I’ve got to murder you too, yes!”), expanding on the opening kill scene as his cheek begins to bleed for no reason. Naturally, he’ll step back into the house to collect his paycheque, though. Oh, and did I mention he dies when he sees a dog jump at him, which just happens to be an illusion and he gets ran over by a big fucking bus?! There’s some gore here and it’s appreciated. Somewhere along the line the kids don’t get what they want and declare that adults are so inconsiderate all the while being about the most inconsiderate little pricks in history. I wanna fucking choke these poorly dubbed kids not only because of their actions but because they have the uncanny ability to speak in unison without any practice! The solution to get the spirits out of the house is to get some sort of psychic mediator in there and he is one bad ass, he is not afraid of spirits whatsoever. He just eggs them on and informs them their bullshit won’t work with him. Can he expel the spirits from the home? I wouldn’t dare spoil this piece of cinematic gold.

I’ll bring this review to a moment of seriousness and point out that the music in the film is great and Fulci doesn’t do a bad job of directing at all, it’s just the dialogue sucks and dubbing is just as terrible. But it’s not in a bad way, the entire movie is a cheese-fest that will leave you shaking your head with a huge smile on your face. The effects are pretty bad, the flying flame looks pretty neat, although in one scene you can see the wire supporting it in the air plain as day. The movie is so different for Fulci and is almost like a Disney TV special on acid. As for the sick touches Fulci is known for, the thing that stands out most is the funeral scene, the kids begin blowing bubbles with their bubble gum at their own parents’ funeral, it’s just so surreal and mind tattering. Splatter favorite Cinzia Monreale does a good job acting as always (although you’ll wish she’d take a cue from Beyond the Darkness and pop a titty or two out) and you will recognize Lino Salemme from many Italian horror films such as Demons 1 & 2 and Demonia, all three much better films than this.

I went into this one thinking it’d be a terrible, slow and boring movie and I was pretty happy with my experience. I’ll take a highly entertaining slice of mozzarella any day of the week over a dull movie. Shriek Show gives the movie the prime treatment with a nice transfer and four interviews, along with a trailer. Lino Salemme is one of the interviewed and says Fulci was a jerk to everyone on set, but the next time he worked with him in Demonia, they worked really well together. It may look like I spoiled the entire movie, but I didn’t come close. If you can believe it, there’s even more insanity. I consider Doom Asylum, Zombie Nightmare, Pieces and Witchtrap to be the epitome of cheese terrors, and I am happy to announce this as the newest addition to those aristocrats. Fulci may have made a bad movie, but it turned out to be a wonderful pile of shit, and that’s what really matters. Rent it!

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