In 1989 a selection of horror maestros were asked to each contribute to the "Le case maledette" (Doomed Houses) series designed for both theatres and Italian television. 'House of Clocks' is Fulci's effort, and its a blinder, although rather unsurprisingly it was never shown on television as it was considered too gory for even the relaxed Italian censors.
When a group of young punks attempt to rob an isolated mansion they discover that the elderly couple who live there are not as innocent as they look. The old couple are themselves murderers, having dispatched a couple of their greedy relatives, leaving them to rot in the houses morgue. In a futile attempt to repel the thieves the couple are both killed but their death is not the end. They control a large selection of magical clocks which give them the power to stop and reverse time meaning that soon enough, much to the punks disbelieve the old couple are back and to defend their home. However, they too are in for a shock, as in a quote displayed at the beginning of the movie, "If time was turned back our sins would also have to start a new..." they cannot escape their own sordid past.
You might be thinking, as was I, is this too much plot for our man Fulci to handle? It surprised me actually, I mean don't get me wrong, I'm a massive Fulci fan, but lets be honest he has produced some stinkers. This movie feels incredibly polished, well paced and for the most part the plot, despite the technical nature of time distortion, remains tight and compelling.
The script is passable, as is the acting, although the clear dubbing on the UK version certainly does the movie no favours, however it is the pace of the movie which makes the movie most entertaining. Lets be realistic, most gore movies can be summed up in a 2 or 3 line synopsis, but the more intricate plot of this movie means that there is very little time for padding and in all honesty each scene counts. Whilst its true, if you analysed the plot intricately (or even discussed it for a few minutes with your mates) the movie has more than one inconsistency, but taken as it is, I found the story to have quite a bit of mystery to it. In parts the movie is pretty creepy, particularly the old couple and there is even a little twist thrown in at the end.
To round the package off nicely is the Fulci trademark... gore. The movie does well in this department. It's gory enough to keep you entertained, but bot so excessive to detract from the story. The effects are good and all the impalements and stabbings are shown in full glory, but overall I would describe the violence as bloody rather than gory as there are no spaghetti guts insight. Rest assured there is not long between death scenes and on account that the characters don't stay dead for long there is no shortage of bodycount.
Overall, this movie has double meaning to me, firstly its an excellent reminder of why I love Fulci movies, and second it was means of forgiveness for I've been giving his movies a little break after viewing the god awful 'Manhattan Baby'. 'House of Clocks' is not going convert any fans to the cause, but it should further consolidate those who are. Recommended.