The House by the Cemetery (1981) Script


Steve, are you dressed?

Hey, come on. It's late. I gotta get home.

I don't want to be put on restriction again.



Are you there?

Listen, if you're trying to scare me, I don't think it's very funny!

This place gives me the creeps.

Steve, I warn you, I'll never come here with you again.

Steve, come on. Where are you?

Hey, if you don't quit it, I swear I'm gonna split without you!


-Steven, where are you? Please answer me.



Bob? Bob, where are you?


Honey, you still have to pack away your toys.

Now, which ones you gonna take with you?

Bob, I'm talking to you.


Bob, will you please wake up?

When Daddy gets home, we--


What's the matter?

Mommy, why does that girl keep telling me I shouldn't go there?

What girl, Bob?

The one standing at the window in that house.

At the window, huh?

Look, we don't have time to play games now, honey.

Daddy will be home any minute. Now, where's the--

Ah, I guess she had something to do.

Let's just say you never saw her in the first place, right?

Yes, I did. I saw her face.

She was waving, and I could read her mouth.

And did she say anything to you?

Yep. She said that I shouldn't go over there.

Why did she say that, Mommy?

Well, I don't know, Bobby.

Maybe because she didn't want you to have to pack away your toys the way you were supposed to.

-Come on, lazy bones. Get the lead out.

-I wasn't tricking you, Mommy. Honest.



Time to go, Mae.

Time to go home.

No. I can't go now.

It's important.

I can't.

I'm leaving tomorrow.

Lucy still hasn't made up her mind.

You have a lot of guts picking up the reins of someone else's research at its most critical point like this.

Especially when that someone else was a scientist of Eric Petersen's caliber.

Well, I'll tell you, Boyle.

You're the only man who can keep this project from going down the drain.

I mean, apart from the 5,000 more you're going to be earning in a year, you were Petersen's protégé, and also, I believe, one of his best friends.

And I know you're itching to clear up his suicide.

Tough one to explain.

But I know you'll get to the bottom of it.

Well, I'll try.

The important thing is, when this huge project gets published, it'll have just your name on it.

Think what authorship can mean.

-Yeah. Publish... or Podunk. Yeah.

Why do you think Eric would have done in Sheila like that?

Well, I don't know. No idea.



It's scary.

He organized the project, got it under way.

That he did.

And then, for no reason, abandoned everything.

Slaughtered his mistress and--

And there he was, researching suicide.

The times we have to live in.


Well, Boyle, when school is over, I'll drive up there and see you.

New Whitby. I adore New England.

I'll be looking forward to it, sir. Bye-bye.

Norman! Why my plants? Penny's gonna water them!

They're pretty.

Oh, for God's sake. New England's full of plants.

-Be careful. Give it to me.

I don't trust Penny. -I'll take it.

-You can stick it under-- -What do you think? Everything here?

I think everything's here, but I really don't know how we're gonna fit it all in.

Think positive.

By the way, have you been to see Mrs. Petersen?

Nah. No need to.

All his reference material is right there in the library.

Well, after all, he was a colleague of yours.

Let's just say we worked in the same field.

But, darling, you could have at least gone to pay your condolences.

What do you say to a widow whose husband had another woman and one fine day slaughtered that other woman, after which he hanged himself?

Then after Mommy changed her mind for the tenth time, the place was already rented.

-My fault, huh? So where we gonna live?

In an even nicer place, thanks to Professor Muller.

-Otherwise you'd sleep in a tent. I wish!

Welcome to New Whitby.

-Tired? A little nervous.

Come on. You're gonna love it. Smell that country air.


No! Don't do it.

There's the agency.

Stay right where you are, Bob. We'll be back in a minute, okay?

Will you get me some candy?

After dinner, if you're a good boy.

Oh, I'm so late. I'm sorry. It's the start of the season.

-Mr. and Mrs. Boyle? How do you do? -Hi.

-I'm Laura Gittleson. -Nice to meet you.

Okay, well, you can already start to fill this out and sign it. Sit down, please.

I'm gonna get the keys for you, okay?

I don't know exactly where I put them, but I-- Ah, yes, in the desk.

Anyway, you can move in as soon as you want.

We haven't had much time to clean it up.

I'm sure you two will find it very comfortable.

Your predecessor was neat as a pin.

They did tell you it was the same house, didn't they?

In any case, poor Dr. Petersen had been there such a short while.

Uh, that's on one month's rent.

Of course you've been there before, haven't you, Dr. Boyle?


Well, I should think they could take possession--

Get the keys, Harold, would you, please?

What keys?


The Freudstein keys.

Oak Mansion, Harold.

Yeah, sure, okay. Oak Mansion. Yeah.

Excuse me, John. I didn't mean to keep you waiting there.

-Well, how do you find our little village?

It's not exactly New York, but I'm sure you'll grow to like it.

I hope so.

Bob? Bob?

I'm here.

Behind you.

On the other side of the street.


Hello. My name is Mae.

I've been expecting you.

My name is Bob.

My daddy's here to do some research.

Yeah, I know.

However, I thought I told you very clearly not to come.

I did my best. Only Mommy wouldn't listen to me.

Parents never listen. They always do what they want.

You shouldn't have come, Bob.

So, now, you two just follow me.

-Okay. -That's my car there.



Mrs. Gittleson, hold on a second.


-Bob! -Mommy! Mommy!

I saw the girl from the old house.

-Why did you get out of the car? -See the doll she gave me to play with?

Everything all right? -She wanted to talk.

-She lives here too. I told you to stay there, not to move.

-But she talked to me!

What else? Ah.

They promise to come by Friday at the latest to hook the phone up.

I guess that about does it. Thank you very much.

Not at all. My pleasure.

Well, I hope you enjoy your stay and your research, Mr. Boyle.

Thank you. I hope so too.

And don't worry. As soon as I get back to town, I'll find you that babysitter.

That's very kind of you.

If there's anything else, you know where to find me.


Damn tombstones.

Well, house in the woods, quiet.

Yeah, right.

Shades of Walden Pond.

-Norman? -Yeah?

This house is exactly like the one in the old photo in New York.

Yes, it's possible.

It's a typical example of the local architecture.

There are probably hundreds of houses like it in the area.

You ready?

Don't you want to unload the car?

You got six months to contemplate nature.

And they're on the starting line!

And they're revving up!

And they're off!

There we go.

Now we have water in the kitchen.

-You know...

...was thinking, maybe Bob and I should have stayed in New York.

Oh, for God's sake. Again?

-Stop with this. Please.

Yeah. After all, six months goes by real quick, doesn't it?

Hey, come on. Don't you remember?

We decided it would be a vacation.

I do my research, and you and Bob, you can go out. It's beautiful.

Great place for a vacation, isn't it?

Listen, honey.

It means another $5,000 per year.

Do you realize?

We can refurnish the apartment in New York.

What's the matter? It's only a doll.

Bob's always bringing home that trash!

You're just tired, darling.

You really should take those pills Joe Baker prescribed.

Why do you keep telling me to go on with those pills?

I feel fine. I never felt better.

They'll calm down your nerves.

My nerves are fine the way they are!

And besides, I read somewhere that those pills can provoke hallucinations.

Are you sure?


You can't say the house isn't quaint.

I guess this must be the cellar.

And Mrs. Gittleson had the door nailed shut. Quaint.

Say the word, and I'll open it for you.

No. Go and fix the rooms first.

Tonight I'd rather sleep in a real bed.

Wouldn't you?

All right.


Bob! Look, it's time for your nap, honey.

No! I want to play!

Don't whine.

-Hi. -Hi.

Are you Mrs. Boyle?


Mrs., uh-- Mrs. Gittleson sent me over.

I'm Ann... the babysitter.


No, hon, it's all right. You keep the car.

But you'll need it to get home. Really, it's okay. I can take a bus.

But they only leave once an hour, and you'll have the groceries.

I don't have much to get, and I feel like a walk.

-Who can argue? Okay, I'll keep the car. -Hi.

Who was it?

Mrs. Gittleson. She didn't see me.

Or she turned the other way on purpose.

-Or maybe you need glasses. -Maybe.

Are you on top of it?

Yeah. I feel a little bit better now that I know that Ann's looking after Bob.

A candlelight dinner.


In the last two months, not only did he come in less and less, but he acted differently.

I had the impression he, uh-- he was growing obsessively jealous of Sheila.

-Dr. Boyle? -Yeah?

You will pardon my indiscretion.


What was he so eager to discuss with you back then?

Back when?

When you came to visit him with your daughter. Don't you remember?

Last October, I think it was.

I never paid a visit to Dr. Petersen.

In fact, this is the first time that I've set foot in this town.

Are you sure?

Yes, of course. Positive.

And then, I have a son, not a daughter.

Strange. I could have sworn--

Mr. Wheatley? You called me?

Ah! Our precious Daniel Douglas.

If you need any books, documents, reference material of any kind, feel free to call on our Mr. Douglas.

Thank you.

Everything's the way Dr. Petersen left it.

Those are his notes.

I didn't dare move any of his material.

Are you going to carry on Dr. Petersen's research?

-Of course. Well, over here you'll find all the medical reports, death certificates and lists of missing persons.

What did Petersen need that material for?

I don't know.

He asked me to get it.

I told him that-- the, uh, material wasn't pertinent.


And... he answered that he was doing a little private research.

-Yes. -Do you know anything about it?

No. But knowing Petersen, I'm sure it's something fascinating.


If you need me, I'm in the next room.

Thank you.

You know where, uh, he hanged himself?


From that railing.

Do you know who that lady is, Bob?

She was the wife of Dr. Freudstein.

Who's Dr. Freudstein?

Oh, and it's all a lie.

-What's all a lie? -She's really not buried there.

On, I know.

She's not buried here.

"June 7, 1879.

Dr. Jacob Allan Freudstein is hereby suspended from the medical association and banned from practicing the medical profession for life.”


Ann? Is that you?








I'm home.



Lucy! What in God's name...

What's wrong?




How do you feel?


-Have Bob and Ann come back? -Not yet.

Why can't we get something else from Mrs. Gittleson?

-I mean, this house is so strange.

Sure, I can deal with a graveyard next door, but to live with a tomb in your hallway?

It's just something you'll have to get used to.

-This ain't New York. I know.

Most of the old houses in the area have tombs in them. Really.

No kidding?

It's because in the winter it freezes here.

-Is that so? -Yeah.

And the yard being like a rock, they bury Grandpa at home.

No more ghost talk now, huh? I've got a surprise for you.

-What is it? I did some clever scrounging.

And, well, darling, now we try to solve the cellar door mystery.



Now let's see.

We're home, Mrs. Boyle. Daddy! Daddy!

-You're back from work! -Hey!

-Guess what. -What?

Today I saw my new girlfriend again, and Mae said to tell you "Hi."

And also to Mommy.

Hey, what are you doing?

Well, I want to show Mommy there's, um, nothing behind the door.

-How about giving me a hand? -Sure.

Now this one didn't work. You try it.

Did you see the girl he was talking about?


-But weren't you with him?

-Yes. All the time. -Bob found it.

Only trouble is--

Thank you.

It's rusty as all get out.

Obviously Petersen wasn't interested in cellars.

Must be years since--

Do you see anything?

Some old steps going down.

-Should I come with you? -No. Stay with Bob.

Norman! Ann!

-Why did you shout like that? -It was just--

Norman, help me!


Daddy! Daddy! What's the matter?

Kill it!

I see. I'll tell Mrs. Gittleson.

And please tell her we want to move out no later than tomorrow.

Yes, very well.

Well, will it be-- be difficult to find another house?

I can't really say, but I don't think so.

Thank God for that. Don't forget now-- No later than tomorrow, okay?

Yes, very well.

-I'll call Mrs. Gittleson... -We going?

...and have her stop over this evening.


That Freudstein house.

That Freudstein house.

No. No. Mm-mmm.

-It was inevitable. -What?

That they'd want to leave the Freudstein property.

Oak Mansion, Harold.

How many times do I have to tell you that house is now called Oak Mansion?

Yeah, give the bad product a new label.

Well, call it what you will, but it's always been Freudstein's house.



Mae, we have to.

I suppose so.

What were you doing by the window?

Watching the house is all.

You can't see it from here.


Time to go to bed.

Don't go inside.

Not inside!

Mr. Boyle?

Mrs. Boyle?

Is anybody home?

-Mrs. Boyle?





Mrs. Boyle?



No! No!


Good morning, Ann.

-Good morning.

What are you doing?

I made coffee.


What a shame you didn't come with us to the restaurant last night.

Well, at least your parents must have been glad you paid them a visit, huh?

Do you live far from here?


Good morning, Professor.

-Norman. -Yeah?

That girl Ann's a real weirdo. I can't get a word out of her.


Maybe she doesn't like me.

Is it interesting?


Did you find anything interesting?

I don't know.

Petersen was reading up about a certain Dr. Freudstein, turn-of-the-century surgeon, who had a penchant for illegal experiments.

And what did that have to do with his historical research?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

The best guess I can come up with...

is that Petersen was already going off the deep end.

-Honey. -Yeah?

That's why I have to take a trip to New York.



I need Muller's okay to follow up a hunch.

Which is that Petersen's suicide was somehow connected with his research on the surgeon Freudstein.


I-I-It's you.


Well, it's Sunday, and I thought--

I know. What are you doing here?


Just a routine check.

One of my duties is to check all the wings of the library on Sunday when we're closed.

I won't disturb you any longer. Excuse me.

-Got you. -Only because I fell.

Otherwise, you wouldn't have come near me.

Where are you going?

I have to get home or Ann will yell at me.

Mom's gone shopping, and she still thinks I'm up in my room napping.

-No, Ann won't get mad. -I tell you, she will.

-Mommy told her I was not to go out. -Don't go in the house, Bob.

Don't worry. I'll just fake it a minute or two and then sneak out again.

See ya.

-Wait for me! -Under the oak!


No, Bob, don't go inside. I warned you not to.

It's been days and days since I stopped work for this.

I can't eat. I can't sleep.

I can't stop now though.

I've got to.

I've lost all critical perspective.

The signs. The warnings of this house.

Freudstein's house.

That anguished crying.

And Sheila smiles.

What can I do to make her believe me?

Maybe I'm insane.

Yes. This is all unreal.

Freudstein's house draws me like an infernal magnet... and frightens me.

How many have wandered innocently into the waiting spider web?

How many more are doomed to follow?

The smell of the rooms terrifies me and lures me on.

The smell of blood.

How many more are still to come?

Onward info the depths of this mystery.

I want to know-- know the worst.

Onward to find out.

Find out!


His voice.

-Is that his voice?



Not only blood.

His voice.

I can hear it now.

I hear it!

I hear it everywhere!


Do you believe me now?

Do you believe me?

No. No!



No! Not the children/


And they're on the starting grid set for the big race, Yogi.

On your mark. Go!

And Bob Boyle takes the lead!

But car number two bumps it off the track.

And he's back on again.




Where are you?

Answer me.

-Come on. Quit playing.


-Are you down there?


You all right?

Um, you want me to--

You want me to come down and help you?


Is that you?


Please, answer me.

Bob! Open the door!

The door, Bob!

Open the door!

Mrs. Boyle, help me!

Open the door!

Bob, open the door! Open the door!

Help! Somebody help me!

Okay, Yogi, we've gotta go rescue Ann.

Bob, open the door. Help! Bob!

Oh, God! Open the door!


No. No.







Can you help me?






-Bob. -Mommy.

What's the matter?

What are you doing there, darling?

-It was awful. It was awful. -Where's Ann? What happened?

I don't know, but--

Were you playing? You mean, she was hiding and you got scared, or what?

Yogi and I were racing and I heard this scream.

And I went down to the cellar. And poor Ann--


And they cut off Ann's head.


They did, Mommy. It fell down the stairs.

-Darling. -It was lying there.

-And I saw it. I did. -Bob!

-Bob, really.

-It's true, Mommy. I saw her. -Yes, yes. Don't worry. It's all right.

You really scared me, you know that?

It's the truth, Mommy. Honest. I saw it roll down the stairs.

Bob, there's nothing there. Believe me.

Hey! Hey! What are you doing here?

What are you doing here?

I happen to be the caretaker, and we're closed now.

I'm looking for a tomb.

Whose tomb?

A Dr. Freudstein's.

Oh, you too?

-What do you mean? -Well, you're not the first.

Look, friend, I came over 200 miles to see this tomb, and I wanna see it.

Well, you shouldn't have bothered. There's no Dr. Freudstein here.

But... according to the official records, he was buried here.

The official records don't mean a thing.

It's a lot of bunk that Freudstein's buried here-- just gossip.

Now, come on. The cemetery's closed. Let's go.

You mind?

Thanks, Mommy.

Ann will come back. You'll see.

She's probably just gone to visit her parents, that's all.

Go to sleep now. Come on.

There we are.

It's late.

Ann! Mommy says you're not dead.

Is that true?


You there?






Mommy! Let me out!

-Let me out, Mommy! -Bob?

Let me out! I'm in the cellar!

Let me out, Mommy!


I'm in the cellar! Help!

-Let me out! -Bob!


Mommy! Mommy!

Open the door for me! It's scary in here!

-Don't worry, honey. -Mommy!

Let me out of here! I'm scared!

Stay calm. Mommy will get you out.

Mommy! Hurry! I'm scared!

Use the key like Daddy did! I don't wanna stay in here!

-Just a minute. -Let me out!

I'm coming.

-Let me out, Mommy! -That's not it.


-Keep calm! -What are you doing? Hurry!

Okay, I'm there.



Open the door!

Mommy, I'm scared!

Let me out of here! Let me out!

Mommy, please don't leave me in here!

Come on!

Mommy! Mommy, are you there?

I know. I know. Wait a minute.


Why don't you unlock the door? Unlock it!

-There's someone in here, Mommy!

Somebody is there! Get the door open!

-Mommy, hurry!

He's coming to get me.

Mommy, he's coming to get me!


Oh, God!






-What's the matter?


-Is Bob in there? -Yes.

We gotta get him out right now and leave this house fast.

What do you mean?

-Later. -Why?

Where's the ax? Where's the damn ax?


-Yes, Daddy? -Keep away from the door.

-Yep, I will.

Don't worry, Bob. I'll get you out.

Why? Who's in there? Who's in this house?

Dr. Freudstein.

Petersen found out the truth. That's why-- why he killed himself.


Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!

Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!


It was Freudstein that killed Sheila.



He needs human victims to renew his cells.

-That's how he stays alive. -Bob.



No! No!


Bob! Bob, the steps. Quick.


No. No!






No! No!



-Mae. -Bob.

Mae, time to go home.

And remember your manners.

Now that Bob is staying, show him you can act like a Freudstein.

You know some other guest is surely destined to drop in.