CEMETERY MANMOVIE REVIEW
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A SIERRA NEVADA
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A man on the phone, (Rupert Everett: DANCE WITH A STRANGER) answers a knock at the door and Merry Mishaps occur.
Well! That didn't take too long did it? But DELLMORTE DELLAMORE aka CEMETERY MAN, based on the popular 1980s Italian novel of the same name, by Tiziano Sclavi (an offshoot character from Sclavi's even more popular character, Dylan Dog, from his comic books), is the wildest, wickedest, weirdest movie to step out of comic book land and onto the screen. It also has a lot of action, a lot of sex, and Rupert Everett as Francesco Dellamorte (della = of the, morte = death), the caretaker of a small Italian village's cemetery.
The place? A small Italian village.
The time? A little bit after the moment that bad things started happening in George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD.
The Italians, both film makers and audiences, loved and embraced Romero's vision so much that zombie movies, based on Romero's mythos, endured through hundreds of features in that country alone.*
Francesco minds the cemetery with his grunting assistant, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro: THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, LE PACT DES LOUPS). In this cemetery, the dead return to life within seven days of their initial demise. Francesco puts them back in the ground after an expedient bullet to the head. Francesco has been doing this so long, and with so many people he once knew and counted among the living, that his line between life and death is starting to blur.
All Dellamorte wants from life is someone to love. His Mother's maiden name was Dellamore (amore = love), and he understands the distinction of his two names, that his Mother, Of The Love, married his Father, Of The Death.
All of this could have been really bleak, but Tiziano Sclavi played his novel for the blackest humor and director Michele Soavi (DARIO ARGENTO'S WORLD OF HORROR, DELIRIA, LA CHIESA, LA SETTA), and script writer, Gianni Romoli (LA SETTA, TRAUMA) followed suit. Francesco is bored with life, yearns for love, and finally finds it in the arms of a visiting widow he only knows as She or Her (Anna Falchi). At first, She wants nothing to do with Francesco, being a recent widow still mourning the death of her husband - a man old enough to be her grandfather but who, "Was incredible in bed. Insatiable!"
Francesco isn't sure he can compete. He's impotent after all and the tough youth hanging out on the street corners of his village make fun of him at every opportunity (somebody must have told!). There are even those in the village who doubt he has a penis at all. Small town gossip has ruined his life.
Still, Francesco wants to give it a shot and one day, he casually mentions that, while he doesn't have much to offer as a man, the cemetery has one swell ossuary. She, amazingly enough, finds that intriguing and must see this damn ossuary. One damned thing leads to another and before you know it, Francesco's impotence is no longer a factor.
Unfortunately, things being what they are, Her husband returns to existence as a zombie and complicates matters.
This is the kind of life that Francesco must live. And things are no better for his assistant and friend, Gnaghi, who pukes whenever he's attracted to a woman and finds himself falling in love with a particularly attractive member of the undead. Or rather, a small member of one of the members of the undead. Not that the body part (Fabiana Formica) is complaining, "Look at me. I'm not that much of a catch." the part admits.
Bored with his existence, yet genetically filled with hot blooded Italian desire ("I'd give my life to be dead."), Francesco goes about the daily drudge of digging graves, burying bodies, talking at night on the phone to his friend, Franco (who is in prison), getting drunk, and shooting zombies in the head: In itself a nearly nightly ritual. Dellamorte's life, surrounded by weirdness, gets even weirder when he starts having conversations with Death itself.
This movie works for its sterling direction, laconic laid back story, wickedly dark humor, and the fact that the three main leads all cut their chops in comedy, and know how to deliver a line. Kudos too, go to cinematographer, Mauro Marchetti and makeup man Sergio Stivaletti (MIAMI GOLEM, PHENOMENA, DEMONS, DEMONI 2, SPETTRI, TERROR AT THE OPERA, LA SETTA, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, HATE 2.0).
DELLMORTE DELLAMORE aka CEMETERY MAN is surreal and inventive, dreamy and horrifying, disgusting and hilarious, which is why its one of my favorite movies of all time.
Five Shriek Girls