Shoddy dubbing is something that Eurohorror fans have to learn to accept early on. In the heyday of Italian horror, rarely was everyone on the set comfortable speaking the same language. Jessica Harper said that construction was going on during takes on the set of Suspiria. It’s not like there’s a definitive cut of most of these where you can hear all the performers speaking in their native language or anything. So unless it’s a case like Black Sabbath, where there is some pretty intrusive reconstruction going on, I’m not opposed to watching most Italian horror in English.
The dubbing might be a little melodramatic at times but it all adds up to a style that I’m comfortable with. Kids can be tricky though. Usually they have such small roles that it doesn’t matter. In House by the Cemetery though, the young boy, Bob, is one of the main characters gets a ton of screen time. He also gets a ton of lines. I can see where this would be problematic trying to get an actual child to read the lines. So, they did the next best thing and got a grown woman with the most grating voice imaginable.
I remember when I was first getting into Eurohorror in the 90s. The obvious starting points were Argento and Fulci. It seemed like every movie that I was discovering was a revelation. There was something new and amazing in almost every movie. It’s a great feeling when you’re not sure what you might see next. Of course, as much as I experienced to that point, nothing prepared me for the voice of Bob.
At first it was funny. After a while though, it really started to grate on my nerves until it nearly ruined one of the coolest set pieces in I’ve seen in any movie. At one point, Bob finds himself locked in the basement with the monstrous Dr. Freudstein. His father rushes to his aid and attempts to break down the cellar door with an axe. Freudstein holds Bob head against the door as his father hacks away. It’s so well constructed that the viewer should feel it in his testicles (a female viewer would obviously feel it in her ovaries). Instead, I felt the dark side of me surface as I contemplated the fact that, if he did hit Bob, I wouldn’t have to hear his voice again for the rest of the movie. The dubbing on this child was so irritating that I actually hoped to see a small child get his face hacked off. Either that voice is seriously annoying or I am a terrible person.
I know I’m not alone on this one. Just google House by the Cemetery and Bob together and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of hostility directed toward him. The actor even apologizes for his dubbing on the recent Arrow blu ray release. Bob even annoyed himself.
Something happened that day that I watched the blu ray though. Maybe seeing a grown man apologize for something that he had nothing to do with made my tiny heart grow three sizes. Whatever it was, my hatred was gone. The voice actually grew on me. This is not to say that I love it or that I would want him to read a few audio books for me, but it’s just part of the movie now instead of this anomaly that enrages me. Maybe I’m getting soft, but I can actually say that I now enjoy everything about House by the Cemetery.