“Of course. For example SENSITIVIA (aka KYRA, LAST HOUSE NEAR THE LAKE, 1979). We made that one during my holidays in Spain, it was a completely Spanish production, involving some questionable money that had been left from some other, even more strange production. It was some sort of joke for me but then the producer came and said that there is no more money left to complete the film and that he needs my ‘name’ to raise more from other production companies. I was not very happy to see my name on that picture. However he failed to get more money, I returned to Rome and from what I’ve heard, the Spanish producer finished the picture by himself later on. I’ve never seen it but I’m sure it’s completely unwatchable. However, I had a great time with my friends at the Costa Brava (laughs).” (1)
A notation follows this paragraph in the interview where the interviewers note that, “Castellari has since seen the finished film and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.” (2)
Lilian (Leonora Fani) returns to her ancestral and familial home from Italy to do college research about the local superstitions. Her house sits upon a lake that is avoided by the villagers as cursed. In the opening scene of the film, a young mother is rowing upon it with her child daughter. She lets her daughter go to shore, and while the young mother paddles to find a navigable path to the main shoreline, a woman’s hand comes from the lake and pulls the young woman from the boat. En route to her home, Lilian encounters several bad omens: she almost hits a blind young girl with her motorcycle; inside the home, she hallucinates a hooded figure who attempts to kill her with an axe; and finally, without Lilian’s notice, a young woman about her age spies on Lilian from a distance who seems none too happy that Lilian is home. Lilian hooks up with the young people in the village, and later in the evening (after drinking), they decide to go to the cemetery. Lilian notices a unique grave with a bust of a beautiful woman, sitting atop. Her date for the evening identifies the plot as the resting place for Kyra, a woman suspected by the village as being a witch. Her date, whose name is Julien (Alberto Squillante), says the woman was not a witch, because she was his ancestor. Lilian becomes excited and the two start fucking. The young woman who was spying on Lilian at her home, named Lilith (Patricia Adriani), is again watching Lilian. Lilith has a vision of Kyra (Caternia Boratto), becomes aroused, and starts masturbating. Lilian has an orgasm and faints. Julien loses his shit and flees in his car. He has an accident when his car goes over a cliff and he dies.
The simultaneous arousal of Lilian and Lilith happens three more times; Lilith masturbates three more times; Lilian has sex three more times; and two of her partners subsequently kill himself after Lilian faints after orgasm in House. The lone lover to survive is Lilian’s boyfriend, Edoardo (Wolfango Soldati), while the other lovers who meet suicidal ends (one of whom is Michele, played by Antonio Mayans aka Robert Foster) share a strong connection. Castellari plays the police inspector who suspects that Lilian has something to do with the murders (but has no proof), while the superstitious villagers turn on Lilian after the second death, believing she is a witch. Wonderful, Italian-American character actor Vincent Gardenia plays an artist in the village. He doesn’t think that Lilian is a witch: he knows the real secret behind the killings, as he houses a dark secret himself. The dramatic action and plot of House is quite simple but the odd history driving the action is rather convoluted.
The House by the Edge of the Lake is obscure and rather inconsequential. The screenplay isn’t completely compelling—the inclusion of the overtly sexual elements raise the eyebrows of the film. Subsequently, really only the sex scenes receive any creative treatment and are the only memorable moments of the film. Hence, the overall Joe D’Amato-esque feeling of the production. The House by the Edge of the Lake is a film on the periphery of the syllabus for serious students of European cult cinema.
1. Blumenstock, Peter and Christian Kessler. “Enzo G. Castellari Part. 2 of an Interview.” European Trash Cinema. Vol.2, No. 10. Ed. Craig Ledbetter. Kingwood, TX. 1994: p. 31.