For every classic Lucio Fulci film there are about 4 or 5 duds, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed 1989's made for television splatter-fest, Casa De Lo Tempo.
The film centers around a trio of young "hoodlums" who aim to rob an elderly couple in their isolated country estate. The old codgers aren't exactly angels themselves, however, since they've just killed their live-in maid for being nosey about the two bodies they're storing in the estates chapel, so when the twisted teens meet up with the feral fogies you know things ain't gonna be pretty.
What follows are gruesome deaths, angry zombies and that trademark silliness that make Fulci's better films such a joy to watch. The House of Clocks hardly makes a lick of sense, but for some strange reason that didn't bother me at all. The pace was fast and there were some genuine thrills and chills that are all but nonexistent in Fulci's other late eighties efforts, and, considering that it was made for a television series in Italy about haunted houses, boasted some pretty good production values.
The DVD from Shriek Show presents the film in a widescreen transfer that made me wonder whether or not the film required one, because several scenes seemed framed rather oddly. Seeing that this film was made for television, I'm a bit perplexed as to why it's presented here in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as, at least as far as I know, widescreen format wasn't used for television back in 1989. I can't say whether or not the film was actually shot in this aspect ratio (perhaps it was originally intended for a theatrical release), but seeing as how I don't think Shriek Show would intentionally crop the footage, I'll just assume that it was.
The transfer is very clean and handles Fulci's dark blues and reds very well. My only real complaint about the picture were some "venetian blinds" that popped up every time the characters were in a certain room that was decorated with tiny triangular wallpaper. It's a silly gripe, but the more they go in that room the more it becomes apparent, and the actors seem as though they are surrounded by a swarm of flickering bees.
The mono soundtrack is a bit bass heavy, and at times I was straining to hear the dialogue, but with lines like "I couldn't even relax by getting high on some good stuff" I don't think I missed much, but overall the presentation is distortion free and the haunting score by Vince Tempera shines through nicely.
Shriek Show have included a couple of lengthy interviews with actors Paolo Paolini (Vittorio) and Carla Cassola (Maria) and a selection of trailers for this and other Shriek Show titles. While it's not a feature packed disc, few Fulci films get much by way of extras so this is a decent, if slightly flawed, presentation of one of the director's final, and finest, attempts.