Saturday, October 18, 2008

Halloween Horrors- Cemetary Man

The next film up on my Halloween horror movie feature is Cemetary Man (1994), directed by Michele Soavi, and starring Rupert Everett in the title role. This is another Italian film, and yes, there are zombies, but it's abit different than the other Italian zombie fests on the list here.

Francesco Dellamorte (Everett) is the caretaker of the cemetary in Buffalora, a small town in Italy. He is aided by his assistant, Gnaghi(Francois Hadji-Lazaro...who also ahs a small role in Brotherhood of the Wolf), who is a bit undeveloped mentally, communicating with strange sounds instead of talking. It seems that Dellamorte and Gnaghi have extra work at the cemetary, as the dead rise up several nights after being buried, hungry for the flesh and blood of the living(of course). Dellamorte tries to get the local government to do something about the problem, but he faces a nightmare of red tape , and the mayor and police chief are too clueless to be of any help. Eventually, he just decides that it's easier to deal with the "Returners" himself.

One day he meets a beautiful widow, grieving over the loss of her elderly husband. The woman, listed in the credits only as "She"(Anna Falchi), eventually falls for Dellamorte's advances. As they consummate their relationship upon the deceased hubby's tomb, he rises up and bites the woman. Dellamorte slays the zombie, and laments that his love is dead. Things begin to get even stranger, as the dead continue to return, Death Himself visits Dellamorte, his love returns(in more ways than one, and more than one time), and our protagonist starts to kill the livng as well as the dead. Will the "Returners" ever stop rising from their graves? Will Dellamorte be reunited with his love, or is he doomed to be without her? Will he escape his situation, and leave Buffalora?

Cemetary Man is a strange film...basically it's a horror film, but there's quite a bit of comedy, as well as some rather existential elements as the film progresses. Questions about Life, Death, Love, and being able to escape one's destiny all come up sooner or later. There are plenty of your standard bits of zombie movie violence, with the Returners attacking and eating the living, and Dellamorte and Gnaghi dispatching said Returners. Like most European films, there is also a fair amount of nudity and sex to spice up the preceedings...and it actually serves the story, I think, playing up the themes of Life, Love, and Death- especially the scene where She and Dellamorte are making love in the cemetary, their lustful activity and nakedness a stark contrast to the crumbling, dark cemetary with it's symbols of Death , surrounding them.

I remember showing this film to a friend years ago. He said he hated it, and he couldn't figure out the ending. Later, he asked me if he could borrow the movie. He ended up watching it several times, and eventually liking it. I first saw it back when it had its very limited theatrical run, and I really enjoyed it.

I hope you decide to take a look at this strange little film for yourself, and I hope you like it the first time around. Check it out.


Charles Gramlich said...

This is another one I haven't seen. Never even heard of it. But your description makes it sound interesting. Surreal in some ways.

Scott said...


It is kind of surreal, especially towards the end of the film. It starts out as kind of a regulation horror/comedy, then gets weirder and more surreal as it progresses.