The Sweet House Of Horrors – Lucio Fulci – 1989

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Lucio Fulci is not known for his soft heart and sympathetic views on humanity, though in his film The Sweet House Of Horrors, he shows a kind and gentle side, maintaining a soft tone, and flexing his absurdist tendency to the extreme. The story revolves around a pair of children who are living with an aunt and uncle in the house their parents were murdered in. With the help of the ghosts of their parents they will convince their guardians not to sell their parents house.

The general beats in this film make me think Fulci saw Beetlejuice and fell in love with the idea of ghosts protecting that which they left behind. He doubles the tragedy and character investment by making the ghosts living connection to the world their actual children. It is a very romantic notion that parents will be around to protect their children after their death, and Fulci makes no attempts to dispel this untruth.

The film begins with an incredibly brutal home invasion scene in which the parents are murdered. The trademark Fulci gore is really only present in this scene, but good grief is it harsh. After this massacre, we dissolve to the funeral. Here Fulci uses an incredible low angle shot between two people, walking to the cemetery, greeting mourners who console the camera with little touches. After a long walk we understand this to be the point of view of a child, and then with the cut Fulci reveals that is in fact two children, a brother and a sister. This is an excellent example of Fuci’s ability to constantly reveal new information through the image with every camera movement or cut.

Before long the children are home in their beds wishing they could still see and talk to mommy and daddy and wouldn’t you know it, two flaming marshmallows appear and enchant the little tykes. They have no doubt that these s’mores a’flambe’ are their beloved mum and dad. The guardians even witness the kids interacting with “nothing”, but don’t really address it until the house starts shaking and doing crazy poltergeist stuff. When they decide to sell and bring in the fat real estate swine, the house repeatedly injures him.

Showing distaste for greed and real estate men, Fulci lays on the sleaze heavily for this character.  The man is repulsive and his pratfalls are quite hilarious and the children laugh and laugh at his serious “accidents”. These kids echo the juvenile black humor present in most of Fulci’s work. Look at the money man fall down due to supernatural forces he doesn’t understand. Fuck you money man.

By the end of the film, the children hold glowing rocks in their hands that might be the parents. I’m not sure. The tractor doesn’t destroy the house and it has a happy ending, but only the kids understand how it all works. Maybe Fulci is trying to tell us something about the power of child-like belief in something. Or maybe he’s saying something about glowing rocks. I really don’t know.

In the end, this is ultimately a sweet-hearted ghost story, written by a guy who clearly loved children, and romanticized about a second chance at the world. In The Sweet House Of Horrors, the ghosts stay behind and take care of the children. In the world of film, Fulci’s ghost is strong and influential. Don’t worry Maestro, we’re listening.

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