The Sweet House of Horrors (1989)

Grisly and claustrophobic... and made for TV.
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The Sweet House of Horrors (La dolce casa degli orrori)

It may well be maybe a possibly well know fact that when Lucio Fulci made non-zombie films he was out of his nut on various psychotropic drugs. A huge chunk of apparent evidence is in The Sweet House of Horrors (La dolce casa degli orrori). As the infamous master of gore, Fulci manages to take potentially no gruesome situations and fill them with brains and severed eyeballs which becomes apparent in the opening scene of this movie, from then on the viewer is subjected to the malevolent deeds of the most insensitive and warped children who are probably the reason that the term "Spawn of Satan" became popular. To compound the sinful actions of these adolescents they are both adorned with eighties Italian child haircuts which send shivers down the spine and make Italian kids the second most haunting offspring after the epitome of child evilness which is Korean kids!

Another trademark Fulci feature which is prevalent in The Sweet House of Horrors is long suffering drawn out scenes of detailed gore, usually accompanied by an unresponsive onlooker failing to offer assistance preferring to watch and make dramatic facial expressions as the blood letting ensues. While this doesn't move the plot forward and is either an example of gore-importance over storyline or demonstrates the failings of society, it is a Fulci trademark... and as a Fulci sycophant this is what makes his work stand out and achieve a seat on the summit of the originality pedestal among a sea of movies playing it by the rules.

The Sweet House of Horrors is one of four movies made with a "House" theme, created for TV but which never saw the televisual light of day due to too much violence and gore. Along with The Sweet House of Horrors, Fulci also directed The House of Clocks while Umberto Lenzi took the directorial reins for House of Witchcraft and House of Lost Souls to complete the quadrilogy.

The storyline is a kind of thrown together and takes a simple premise (a premise probably not worthy of a feature length film) and injects a large syringe full of irrelevance to pad it out and to introduce some gore where there really isn't any need for it... although, saying that if there was no occasional gore then this movie would have no redeeming features except for the wholly maniacal children who would soon become annoying without the presence of the blood-fairy to throw some occasional terror!

Mary and Roberto Valdi return from a party to be greeted by a balaclava clad intruder who proceeds to reveal their brains and eye sockets. At the funeral the newly orphaned orphans of the Valdi family emit a strange mixture of grief about the loss of parents and elation at a fly on the nose of the priest immediately throwing said kids into the intersection of the Venn diagram of "potential serial killers" and "abortions that should have happened". The auntie and uncle take over caring for the kids and look after them at the Valdi house while the sale is going through but the children don't want to leave the house until they have helped their ghostly parent's exact revenge on the bungling brain-revealing burglar.

The Sweet House of Horrors is typical of Italian horror movies of the era with the expected amount of bad dubbing, bad haircuts and an often overpowering soundtrack and whilst this is obviously an obvious flaw in the movie making process it also adds a quaint charm to make this niche of cult movie stand out. The story is absurd, the acting is under par and overacted, the dubbing mixer was obviously Helen Keller... but the gore is wonderful and totally over the top for the scenarios depicted, despite being a rare occurrence when compared to other Fulci movies. Fulci demonstrates a unique style of directing and whilst the stories are visually incongruous the execution of these absurdities play second fiddle to the showcasing of the gore. The word gorecentric needs to be added to the dictionary and should suggest that more information can be found by looking up Fulcified.

By using demented children utilising the paranormal to gain power over the non-believing and suppressive grown ups in the world many similarities can be drawn up between The Sweet House of Horrors and Manhattan Baby, and, as with Manhattan Baby this seems like a rushed job for Fulci but as this was made for TV this isn't really much of a surprise.

This is not Fulci's finest but compared to cult classics such as Zombie and The Beyond the comparison is about as useful as comparing mermaids with flying unicorns. This is definitely not the finest of Fulci's work, probably in the first quartile in the Fulci distribution but still above the median in the universal set of horror. The bodycount is low and the most shocking scene is in the first 10 minutes, there is little else to scare the viewer unless bad special effects are a particular phobia.
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Categories: Italian Horror Movies

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