2/17/09

Terrifying Tuesday: Cemetery Man (1994)

In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, I feel there’s room for a bit more love….and death. Some people might think that working in a graveyard doesn’t leave much room for a love life, and those folks might be right. After all it’s one thing when you are having an affair with a woman and her husband comes back from work, it’s a whole other situation when he comes back from the dead. Ladies and Gents…….

Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore) (1994) staring Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, and Francois Hadji-Lazaro. Directed by Michele Soavi. 

Francesco Dellamorte (Everett) lives a secluded life. In a small shack in the middle of the Buffalora, Italy graveyard, he lives with his only human contact being his peculiar assistant Gnaghi. Not only does he have to care for the dead, he has to make sure they stay dead. Seven days after a body is interred, it rises up out of the grave, and only a traumatic injury to the head can make them rest in peace once and for all. 

Dellamorte’s life changes when he makes the acquaintance of a beautiful young widow (Anna Falci). He begins to fall for her and soon seduces her, but as they make love atop her spouse’s grave, her husband rises from his tomb and takes a bite out of the girl. Fearing she too will come back from the grave, Francesco takes her life. As he begins a slow spiral into depression, he begins to meet women who resemble his lost love, and he will go to any ends to be with them. 

Film Facts

--An American company offered to put up the money for the film. That is if Matt Dillon were cast as Francesco. 

--Martin Scorsese called Cemetery Man the best Italian film of the ‘90’s.

--The film was shot in an actual abandoned cemetery. 

--Cemetery Man is also known as Of Death Of Love, Demons ‘95, and in Spain retitled Mi novia es un Zombie (My Fiancée is a Zombie).

The Bug Speaks

Even with its reputation, I had low expectations of this film because it starred Rupert Everett. , perhaps most well known for his string of gay best friend characters in films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Next Best Thing. However I was pleasantly surprised. Everett showed the kind of acting skill I had only seen from him in The Madness of King George (one of my favorite films). So with my hesitation for Everett’s skills put to rest, the rest of the film lived up to the hype. 

This well paced film, based off the novel written by comic book scribe Tiziano Sclavi, has practically everything that a fan of horror comedy could want. There are tons of zombies, the darkest of humor, and characters that range from strange to downright zany. Yet more than that, it is a film that works on several levels. If you want to watch it for laughs, then this is for you. If you want to watch it for horror, then this is for you. If you want to watch it for a movie with emotional impact and meaning, then this is also for you. It’s almost hard to believe that a film could be crafted so deftly that all these factors could manage to work together. 

Everett, as I have said, was a revelation to me. This is an actor that I have discounted completely, and I will be investigating his work much more closely. Francois Hadji-Lazaro, who some may recognize for his role in The City of Lost Children, is brilliant as Gnaghi. Delivering only the word “Gna” throughout the film, he manages to impart the character with a deep emotional resonance. It is a role that could have easily descended into buffoonery, but Hadji-Lazaro pulls it off and makes you feel for the character. Anna Falci in her many roles as “She” also turns in a great performance. Each character she inhabits is distinct while still managing to carry over characteristics of her previous incarnations. Apart from her acting, she is also quite beautiful (and quite naked) in the film.  

Director Michele Soavi, who began his career working with both Joe D’Amato and Dario Argento, brings flavors of both directors to the screen while managing to form his own style. Cinematographer Mauro Marchetti experience with genre cinema mostly comes from is work as a cameraman on films such as Argento's  Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Margaretti's Killer Fish, but he has also been the shooter for such films as Robert Altman’s Popeye aa well as training the lens on Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. Here he breaks out all kind of camera tricks and stylized shots to give the visual narrative as much impact as the scripted. 

In the end this film just works for me. It hits all the right notes at all the right times. The pacing, the look and feel, and the uncomfortable laughter it evokes. This is one that I rented, and I can tell you now that it is one I will soon be purchasing. If you haven’t seen this one for one reason or another, move it to the top of your rental pile or drop some cash on the Anchor Bay release. Do what you have to do, but see this film. I can’t quite give it a 5 of 5 because I would have liked there to be a bit more of the red stuff on display, but it’s a very narrow miss.



The Bug Rating




Think you've had enough Rupert Everett in your life. Well, you are so wrong. This Thursday be prepared for Everett to return to The Lair once again as Ladies Night Presents a feature that will get you all tangled up in Rupert.

6 comments:

  1. I agree. Cemetery Man is an incredible movie. I have the Anchor Bay dvd and I think I might watch it again. It's been a few yeasrs since I've seen it last.

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  2. One of my all time favorites. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen when it came out--I've been a fan of Italian horror ever since.

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  3. Great entry,L.B.And may I add you're quite the competition on the trivia front!Great work.

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  4. Heya guys. Thanks for all the comments. I'm quite jealous that you saw this film in a theatrical release. I bet it looks amazing.

    Beedubelhue...or should I say Big Wop as your trivia moniker goes? Thanks for the comment, and I will continue to enjoy seeing you on the field of factual battle.

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  5. Great review. I love this film. I think you were spot on with your write-up. I watched this again not long ago. I had seen Rupert Everett in several things before I ever saw My Best Friend's Wedding. He's had some really good roles out there. I really like your blog. I'll definitely have to check it out more. Cheers!

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  6. Excellent Review Bug!
    [this one is one of my favorites as well - great flick!]

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