On March 26, 2011, HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis hosted an amazing reunion (with special thanks to Mike Baronas for organizing it): “House by the Cemetery” 30th anniversary. On hand to answer questions were: Catriona MacColl, Carlo de Mejo, Giovanni Frezza, Dagmar Lassander and Silvia Collatina.
Here are the highlights:
* Dagmar Lassander recalled a time while shooting “Black Cat” that she arrived at the airport in London and luggage had to be isolated. One of the bags was bleeding, and it happened to be hers. She had with her a bag of fake blood and a mummified cat. The cat was not allowed (though what her punishment was is unclear).
* The house in the film was shot only as an exterior in Boston, though the cast agrees it was creepy. The only person who went inside was Silvia Collatina, who was filmed looking out the window. She says it was terrifying because inside was a large portrait of Larry Hagman. The house interiors were shot in Rome.
* Silvia Collatina also recalls not being able to cry in the scene where she sees the mannequin’s head fall off, in part because she wasn’t really looking at it. We see her crying in the film because Fulci yelled at her until she did, so her tears are fear of Fulci, not the mannequin.
* Fulci also yelled at Giovanni Frezza, who has wandered off to get an autograph from a comedian who was in another room. Fulci called Giovanni “stupid” for asking, saying he was the more talented actor. On other occasions, Fulci would also yell at him and call Giovanni “ugly”.
* Carlo de Mejo says that Fulci’s reputation for being mean is not his interpretation. He prefers to think of Fulci as “grumpy”. Dagmar Lassander agreed, saying she had worked with far more mean-spirited directors, including Piero Schivazappa, who directed her in “The Frightened Woman”.
* Catriona MacColl says the most “sadistic” she ever saw Fulci was on “City of the Living Dead” when she was covered in maggots. She had to drink two cognacs to calm her nerves for the shot, and Fulci purposely kept the cameras rolling after he had enough footage.
* Mike Baronas of Paura Productions talked about how hard it was to track MacColl down, who now owns a restaurant in a small village in France. Dagmar Lassander was in Rome and much easier to find, and he recommends that everyone try her lemon pasta.
* Giovanni Frezza personally apologized for the poor English dubbing, despite this not being his fault.
* In the scene where Bob is nearly hit by the ax coming through the door, Giovanni Frezza was scared but they only needed two takes. The risky shot was done by loading the ax into a spring-powered device, to keep the mark it hits as close as possible. A similar device was used in “City of the Living Dead” when Catriona is inside a casket.
* The scene showing Catriona MacColl getting pulled down the stairs was not as painful as it looks. The steps had a light, spongy foam on them, and there were only 3 steps. (The film shows 6, but if you pay attention, you will see the same shot being played twice.)
* Silvia Collatina personally disliked Ania Pieroni, the actress playing the babysitter, and thought she was a bad actress. Collatina got to be the killer’s hands in the scene where Ania dies, which made Collatina happy.
* I talked to Carlo later on and asked why his English is so flawless. He was actually raised in England from early on before moving back to Rome because his mother was actress Alida Valli, who was in “The Third Man”, as well as Dario Argento’s films “Suspiria” and “Inferno”. (Sadly, she passed away in 2006.)
* I also talked to Silvia later on and she explained the ending, or at least her interpretation of it. She sees it as May pulling Bob into “her world”, a world where they are dead and can live forever as children. She makes the distinction, though, that despite Bob now being “dead”, he never actually dies.