Cemetary Man (Dellamorte Dellamore) [retro review]

“The living dead and the dying living are all the same. Cut from the same cloth.”

The Scoop: 1994 R, directed by Michele Soavi and starring Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, and François Hadji-Lazaro

Tagline: N/A

Summary Capsule: As a cemetery watchman, Dellamorte finds himself in a battle between the land of the living and the land of the dead.

Justin’s Rating: “Nyuh?”

Justin’s Review: If you were working full-time as a cemetery caretaker, living on the cemetery grounds, and your only companionship either the dead or an unintelligable idiot, I wouldn’t blame you if you went a tad loopy after a while. Particularly if the dead starting coming back to life and you had to deal with that on your time off.

Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore) finds our deadpan hero, Francesco (Rupert Everett), in that exact situation. His life has become completely surreal as a caretaker, to the point where he only pauses during a phone call to blow the head off a zombie before resuming the conversation. He buries the dead, re-buries the dead, and deals with the vast oddities of life and afterlife with the greatest of ease. Death comes to make a personal housecall (to tell him to stop killing the dead, and perhaps graduate to killing the living), his assistant Gnaghi falls in love with a reanimated severed head, and a strange alluring girl (Anna Falchi) keeps reappearing in his life in various personas. Francesco isn’t exactly sure what’s real and what’s not (his only friend is not even much of a friend), but he stumbles through his existence nevertheless. What’s better, he wonders: life or death?

This is what my movie reviewing life lives for: finding a gem of a movie that no one’s ever heard of before. Cemetery Man is technically horror, but you could easily toss it in the comedy section as well. This is a savagely brutal film peppered with black humor (the running and talking head is my favorite) and a fair amount of nudity. Falchi isn’t hard on the eyes, and neither is the lush gothic scenery, which gives the whole enterprise a gloomy haunted house aura. Kind of like Tim Burton with an edge.

If you’re squeamish, look someplace else, ’cause there’s a lot of blood and gruesome scenes to be beheld. It’s very much in the vein of Dead Alive, although that may be an unfair comparison to stack up against. The main problem — if it is that — is that the film is largely episodic, telling a series of somewhat connected tales with little overarching story. A movie where a character experiences events rather than explores them creates a unique tone that requires the viewer to supply the lacking threads to piece the story together. You’ll either like it or it’ll bug you ’till the day you die, but apart from that, it’s an interesting offbeat tale of the macabre and breasts.

 

It's a match made in... New Jersey? The deep dark jungles of Africa? I'm not sure.

 

Intermission!

  • Zombie boy scouts!
  • Ossuaries are quite the place to make out
  • Glass caskets?
  • Needles and penises… ARGH!
  • Many sources incorrectly state that this film is derived from Tiziano Sclavi’s comics featuring the hero Dylan Dog; it is in fact an adaptation of a Schlavi Novel (also called Dellamorte Dellamore) that does not contain the Dylan Dog character. Years earlier, however, Schlavi did base his Dylan Dog drawings on the facial features of Rupert Everett which is probably how the confusion began. An American Dylan Dog movie was developed a few years after the release of this movie, but never came to fruition.
  • According to Director Michele Soavi, The “returners” get their energy from the Mandragola roots in the cemetery.

Groovy Quotes

Valentina: He threw up on me Claudio!
Claudio: Oh, new fad, like to go for a ride?
Valentina: I knew you’d understand.

Francesco: Go away, I haven’t got time for the living.

Death: Stop killing the dead, they’re mine. If you don’t want the dead coming back to life why don’t you just kill the living?

Francesco: You’re supposed to be setting a good example, now will you get back to your coffin immediately!

Francesco: Death, Death, the whore.

British Policeman: Dellamorte! There’s a maniac loose on the fourth floor shooting people — get out of here! Oh, you have a gun. Very good thinking — self-defense.

Dellamorte: At a certain point in your life you realize you know more dead people than living.

Francesco: You get into all sorts of trouble if you kill people if they’re still alive.

Francesco: The Living Dead and the dying living are all the same. Cut from the same cloth.

Girl: No, please don’t. He’s only eating me.
Francesco: Move aside.
Girl: Mind your own business. I shall be eaten by whoever I please.
Francesco: This is my business. They pay me for it.

[On discovereing Gnaghi burning old phone books]
Francesco: Just because we’ve got the new ones doesn’t mean we have to throw old ones away… these books are classics!

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Joe Versus the Volcano | Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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