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The great thing about this movie is that it's not scared to walk a
line between two rarely compatible genres - tongue in cheek horror comedy
and European art flick. On its simplest level, it's a schlock zombie
pandering to the gore fans. But on another level, it has enough
thought-provoking material and poetic direction to please the turtle-neck
brigade at your local arts and drama society.
Director Michael Soavi risked alienating both camps with this approach. After all - do fans of George A. Romero *really* want to see zombies that don't seem all that dangerous? Or hear philosophical dialogue about the blurry line between what is alive and what is dead? And conversely - do the coffee-house beatniks really want their poetic escapism dampened by bullets through nuns eyeballs and flying, biting severed heads in bridal veils??? If you had asked me a year ago I would have said that the mix sounded ridiculous.
Now though - I stand corrected.
On the side appealing to my sense of aesthetics and intellect - Michael Soavi's direction was wonderful. The screen is alive with wide angles, slo-mo flowing silks and drips of water. Reminiscent of Ridley Scott in his better days in fact. But wait? What's this cutting through the arty farty pretension? A Sam Raimi style track and pan here? A Jean Paul Jeunet style superimposition there? The whole film is an exercise in visual flair. I can only wish that hollywood had more directors of this calibre. On top of this - the screenplay was superbly written. It delivered shock, comedy or deep sentiment with perfect timing. The climax was stunning and left me very quiet throughout the closing credits.
On the side appealing to my sense of "Hey lads, let's crack open a few beers and watch some chicks get naked and eaten by zombies!" I was equally satisfied. The gore and heaving breast content is most adequate. The zombies were brilliantly designed and had distinct personalities. Even in its deeper moments the film always seems to have it's tongue firmly in its cheek and a mischevious gleam in its eye.
At various times I was reminded of Evil Dead 2, The Hudsucker Proxy, Bad Taste, City of the lost children, and Zombie flesheaters to name but a few. An unusual mix indeed - but one that somehow works. All said and done, I heartily recommend this movie to anyone willing to try out - just for once - a zombie flick with a brain (pun intended).
Okay, forget the really cheesy American title ("Cemetery Man") and just
it up if you ever see it. Anyone with an open mind and any mind at all
should be able to like this film, if not for the bizarre story for Michele
Soavi's incredible visual style, the perfect performances by Everett and
Lazaro, or just as a plain, good old time.
"Dellamorte Dellamore" begins like a fun B-horror movie telling us of the care-taker of th Buffalora cemetery, Francesco Dellamorte. In the cemetery some dead people come back to life 7 days after burial, but, Dellamorte isn't too bothered by this, he just takes it as part of his job to put the dead back in the ground, answering his door with a gun in hand, ready to dispense some Grim Reaper-type justice. But, within the first three minutes we know from the visual complexity of the film that this won't be just any B-horror movie, and within the first ten minutes we get a glimpse of what is to come - a fascinating meditation on the difference (if any) between life and death, a philosophical look at insanity and loneliness, a recurring love story that grows more bizarre with each telling, and eventually a big old representation about how life is just what we make of it. The dead returning and the whole zombie thing is just a doorway into Dellamorte's world. Fortunately, it never takes itself too seriously, if it had it would be a dull bore, but thankfully Romoli throws in lots of wit and dark humor ("I'd give my life to be dead"), and Soavi never lets us get bored with his always moving, floating camera and elaborate but never over-done sets.
Everett gives one of the best performances in film history because it is so subtle, he delivers his lines with just the right amount of sarcasm, cynicism, and un-emotionalism (is that a word?) to pull off what was probably an incredibly difficult performance - but he does it perfectly. Francois Hadji-Lazaro, playing Dellamorte's mute and retarded assistant manages to build more of a character with his simple one word vocab of "Nyah" and his facial expressions than most big over-done actors/actresses in movies now-a-days. Anna Falchi is mainly there to provide mysteriously beautiful looks, which she does, in all three of her roles and all of her many lives and unlives. Soavi was the protogé of Italian horror-stylist Dario Argento, but in "Dellamorte Dellamore" he comes fully into his own with his own bizarre and incredible style. This isn't just a case of the student copying the teacher, in this case the student might have even surpassed the master. Ah, if only you could see one movie this life time.
There was a distinct lack of truly great horror in the nineties; but
this film, Dellamorte Dellamore, tops the list of what little good ones
there were. It's actually quite shocking that this came out during a
huge depression for horror cinema, because it's easily one of the
greatest horror movies I ever saw. Dellamorte Dellamore is a rather
strange mix of horror, romance, twisted fairytale and comedy that isn't
quite like anything else in cinema; horror or otherwise. The film knows
that it's not the usual sort of film, and revels in this fact
throughout. Dellamorte Dellamore buys itself a licence do whatever it
wants through the fact that it so weird, and therefore no matter what
the film throws at you; it's easy to just back and enjoy it. The film
is directed by Dario Argento's talented understudy, Michele Soavi and
finds an unlikely lead in Rupert Everett. The story follows Everett;
the keeper of a cemetery in a small Italian town called Buffalora. He
lives there with his assistant; the deformed Gnaghi, but this isn't
quite the normal cemetery, however, as here the dead come back to life
and it's up the cemetery man to put them back to sleep. When he meets
the most beautiful woman he's ever seen in his cemetery, however, it
appears that his luck is starting to change.
The atmosphere presented in this film is truly brilliant, and one of Dellamorte Dellamore's main assets. A cemetery is always going to present a macabre location for a film's characters to inhabit, but the Gothic design in this film ensures that Buffalora's cemetery is more than the horror film norm. The way that the smoke protrudes from the graves, along with several little special effects that director Michele Soavi has seen fit to implement all help to give the film that unique ambiance that it portrays so well. Soavi has given this film it's own style throughout, and even the zombies adhere to it. Soavi's zombies, like the rest of the film, don't stick to convention and rather than being covered with blood, falling to pieces of screaming "brains!", these zombies really look like they've been underground, and also manage to tie in with the downbeat tone of the rest of the movie. A lot of imagination has gone into Dellamorte Dellamore, and almost every sequence is soaked in it. It's things like the way that the cemetery man's assistant takes the mayor's daughter's head from her grave and puts it in the television that makes Dellamorte Dellamore what it is, and not just any other zombie movie.
Horror movies aren't known for great acting, but Dellamorte Dellamore breaks convention once again on that front. Rupert Everett puts in a performance that goes over and above what audiences have come to expect from him given his earlier roles. Like the rest of the film, he just fits in; and if you'd never seen Everett in anything before, you would think that he made this kind of movie all the time. The fact that he isn't essentially a horror film actor only makes the performance even more impressive. Anna Falchi stars opposite him in three different female roles, and looks absolutely great in all of them. The rest of the cast is made up of lesser-known actors, with the very odd François Hadji-Lazaro standing out most among them. Director Michele Soavi started out working under the great Dario Argento, but the few films he has directed himself show that he is a bigger talent than his resume lets on. Here, for example, he has created a film that absolutely stands on it's own. Dellamorte Dellamore goes beyond the title 'horror film', and comes out in a sub-genre all of it's own. Films like this don't often come to the attention of the mainstream; and that's a shame because originality like this should be praised to high heaven. Dellamorte Dellamore is a film that is impossible to ignore and, providing you can find a copy, ignoring is definitely not the recommended action!
From the land that spawned probably the most zombie films to this date,
ranging in quality from excellent to exremely dull, comes one film that
rises above nearly all the rest. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (aka CEMETERY
MAN) is that film, and if you haven't seen it yet, you are seriously
missing out. The story is about lonely cemetery attendant Francesco
(Rupert Everett (!?) in one of his very early roles)and his mute,
Igor-like assistant Gnaghi. Every seven days, the dead rise from their
graves (for no real apparent reason...) and it is Francesco and
Gnaghi's job to dispatch them. The 2 live a pretty solitary existence
until a mysterious woman comes along and into Francesco's life. Cut to
the chase- Francesco and the woman have sex on her newly buried
husband's grave, and when he returns from the dead, everything goes
haywire from there...
DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE is several films rolled into one...zombie gore film, dark comedy, romance story - similar in some ways to perhaps DEADALIVE (not nearly as silly or gory), but this is a hard film to make a comparison on. It really is it's own unique experience and should definitely be viewed by anyone into horror/zombie films. Again, one of my all-time zombie favorites...Highly Recommended 9/10
Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man) is one of those ingenious, creative movies that appear once in a blue moon and is virtually unrecognized. It tells the story of a cemetery caretaker's troubled life and descent into madness, while at the same time, trying to rid himself of the zombies that rise from the ground after burial. Featuring Rupert Everett giving one of the best performances in cinematic history, Dellamorte Dellamore is a unique blend of humor, horror, and romance into a gothic art-house flick. This movie is proof that American film-makers have a lot to learn.
I scoured the shelves of my local video store, looking and looking for
something in the horror section that might actually fall under the category
of "quality horror movie." Well, this movie - out of an offering of what
seemed like hundreds - is the only one that seemed to stick out and grab me,
so I rented it. And I'm glad I did, I was NOT disappointed.
This movie possesses all those "pluses" that I like in those movies that I give high marks to. Namely, it is absorbing, thick with atmosphere, adroitly filmed, has great location scenery and expertly designed sets, and has compelling, believable characters who actually make you care about their individual fates as the movie unfolds. Yes, this movie has all that, and it is hard to believe that I found all this in a (gasp!) Italian zombie flick.
But it's true, and as you can see from previous comments herein, most other people commenting on this film were also quite impressed with the film.
I also like the ending... I will be the first to admit that the ending is as enigmatic and puzzling as many other segments of the film. Perhaps that's why I like the ending: it's not a slick, hokey happy-ending sort of finish. And by the way, has anybody else noticed that the ending is a clever variation of the proverbial "cliff hanger" ending??
Anyway, I heartily recommend this movie to anyone who is a horror-zombie-gore-fantasy film lover who wants some quality goods. There is gore aplenty, though I never found it to be disgusting or disturbing. Plus, there are some beguiling and wonderfully sexy scenes featuring that most beautiful model/actress from Finland, Anna Falchi. Rupert Everett is captivating as the title character, and the guy who plays his half-wit assistant Gnaghi is wonderfully expressive - it's hard to believe he barely utters a complete sentence the entire film.
Oh, and one more thing... after seeing this film, should the need ever arise, you should be utterly inspired to go out and plug rampaging zombies squarely in the head with dum-dum bullets.
this movie is proof that the horror genre is far from dead (no pun
intended.) this italian import (released in the u.s. as Cemetary Man) is
energetic, scary, gory and well acted. it also possesses one of the most
original screenplays i've ever seen in a horror film.
the main plot element has Rupert Everett (who finds just the right note for
the role) as Dellamorte Dellamore, a cemetary keeper who has to put up the
dead coming back to life after 7 or so days. his helper is a mute named
Nagi, who grunts to communicate, and bears and uncanny resemblance to curly
from the three stooges.
italian horror movies are known for their visual lavishness. this one is no exception (the director is a protege of Dario Argento and worked as assistant director on some of his movies). what sets this one apart is that is actually has a solid script which is what a lot of italian horror movies seem to lack, but make up for that weakness in the visuals (like Suspiria or The Beyond.)
i was surprised at the extent and amount of gore in the movie. considering it's rated R and the MPAA is notoriously rough on horror films, i'm surprised it made it through relatively complete (a friend of mine said the original italian version is 5 minutes longer but that most of what was cut was explicit sex.) what hurts the movie is a repetitious and murky second half. it's interesting but just a bit too cerebral compared too the first half.
at a time when the horror genre is pretty stagnant, movies such as this one are a wake up call that horror is alive and well.
For those who don't know Soavi, this guy has directed 25% of Gilliam's "Munchausen". So if you loved the final "Death" sequence, this film features the same imagery - laced with poetry, wit, humor, romance, sheer cinematic beauty, satire, onirism. This is the best Italian fantasy since "Suspiria"by a genius of a director. And if you want something completely different, it's all in here. Michele, where are you ? We need you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Michele Soavi's DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE is not to be confused for a zombie
splatter flick, it is actually a strong character study in form of a
black comedy. Of course, the words 'Italian horror' and 'character
study' are not the kind of stuff you read in the same review. That is
what makes this intriguing little film, along with Argento's
psychological thriller STENDHAL SYNDROME, one of the last great horror
films to come out of Italy. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE was even given a
theatrical release in Uncle Sam's land circa 1996 under the name
CEMETERY MAN and it did quite well thanks to Rupert Everett's star
We know this is going to be something special from the very first scene: After the camera zooms out of a skull (very cool effect) we are inside a small room while a young man answers a phone call. Then someone knocks on his door and when he opens it tcham! A rotten zombie enters the room. The audience is surprised, but the man isn't as he grabs a gun and calmly shoots the thing in the head. He returns to the phone like it was some bizarre daily routine as the camera reveals he lives right by a cemetery. Roll titles.
We then learn, through a continuous narration, that the man happens to be Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) a caretaker of a local cemetery of a small Italian town. Dellamorte is one lonely and unhappy man: The entire town makes fun of him for being apparently impotent and having a miserable sex life. Every night, with the help of his mute nerdy assistant Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) he is forced to dispose of the living dead who return from their graves seven days after their burial. This is a major factor of the film that is left unexplained as we are left to assume the zombies exist thanks to an unknown plague. It doesn't even matter anyways, this is the whole set-up of the movie and instead of having a linear plot, Gianni Romoli's sharp script (based on an Italian comic book series) is a string of semi-unconnected events that shape the film as an episodic piece. In fact, one could somehow consider DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE as an anthology film linked together by the characters.
Throughout the film's duration, Francesco falls in love with many nameless women (all of them are played by the same actress: Anna Falchi) and these affairs usually end in bad consequences. The first woman is recently widowed nymph who is apparently turned on by ossuaries. When her jealous husband comes back to the grave and kills her, Dellamorte is left shocked and hopeless. But fortunately for him she is buried in that exact cemetery and not even death can split them apart. Then he ends up falling to the mayor's secretary who happens to have a strange phobia that forces Dellamorte to give up his manhood for love. Will he do it? And finally there is a strange college girl who ends up being too easy. What is her secret? These affairs end up driving Dellamorte insane until the point where he becomes a serial murderer and gets back at all the town folks that originally made fun of him. But is Dellamorte really committing the murders? Or is it someone else? Are those women real or a product of his imagination? Is his insanity getting out of hand?
CEMETERY MAN is so unusual for an Italian horror film, a genre that has been fairly stereotyped over the years as hot-blooded women being chased by schizophrenic, knife-wielding, black-gloved killers. It actually has interesting dialogue, sharp plot, and strong character development. Not only that, but it is filled with black humor that actually works. One of the (many) comedic subplots involves Dellamorte's mute assistant Gnaghi falling in love with the mayor's daughter named Velantina (Fabiana Formica) who is later decapitated at a road accident. Guess to whom Valentine's (talking) zombified head hooks up? The Valentina/Gnaghi subplot is actually a very sweet and funny touch in the film and you actually feel sorry at the tragic outcome. The ridiculous idea of a talking head reminded me of Dario Argento's terrible attempt that same year in TRAUMA where the Italian maestro used it in a serious tone. It all gets more bizarre when Mayor Scanerotti (Stefanio Mascearelli) uses his daughter's death as political propaganda, proving that politicians don't have a soul indeed. During the beginning of the film I thought Detective Straniero's (Mickey Knox) failure at suspecting there was something wrong with Dellamorte was a plot hole when later I realized it was actually being played for laughs. And I laughed. Is CEMETERY MAN parodying the usual narrative problems with Italian horror?
The entire movie is revolved around Rupert Everett who is given a lot to do here from the narration to the actual on-screen performance. It is a shame that Everett's performance in this is never mentioned when people talk about his work. In fact, his horrendous role along with Madonna in 1999's NEXT BEST THING gets more recognition. I would go as far as saying Francesco Dellamorte is the strongest role I ever saw Everett play. He nails the character's offbeat sense of humor from the very first scene and seems to play the whole thing dead serious, making us somehow laugh anyway. This is a performance that proves that we can always take an actor's performances seriously, no matter what his/her real-life sexual preference is.
Michele Soavi was one of the most enigmatic horror directors to come out of Italy. Being a strong protégé of Dario Argento early on his career, the young gifted director completed many music videos as well as some documentaries and assistant-director credits before making his directorial debut in 1987's STAGFRIGHT. With the international success of that film, Soavi soon became hot stuff and was said being the next carrier of the torch that was originally passed from Mario Bava to Argento, but sadly it wasn't so. After directing four acclaimed films (with CEMETERY MAN being the last) Soavi retired and isolated himself from the movie-making business never to be heard from the international public again. Sad really, one can only imagine what his career would have been like if he kept directing because Cemetery MAN is so well-crafted. Soavi breathes style into the picture that mirrors the work of Mario Bava, Sam Raimi, Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, and others. He is even inspired by Orson Welles at some point and I won't tell you where
The special fx-work was made by Argento regular Sergio Stivaletti (PHENOMENA, SLEEPLESS) and it is one of the most puzzling aspects of the film. For most of the time, the gore looks horribly fake. But one can only guess that was the intention. The zombies look and act so exaggerated and the gore looks so forced and corny one can't help but laugh at it. And were all those visible 'invisible' wires intentional? I am guessing it was just the VHS transfer I watched the film with.
Few films manage to be as haunting, imaginative, weird, and even as darkly funny as CEMETERY MAN. If you ignore some weak dubbing (the one problem the Italian horror industry will apparently never get rid of) you will have one great time. From the eyebrow-raising introduction to the enigmatic conclusion, it will be frustrating to know that Michele Soavi wasn't able to save the Italian horror industry from being taken over by Asian horror as the major alternative from Hollywood slasher flicks and now the industry is far from the 70s glory it once had, with Dario Argento managing to come out with a few minor hits over the years.
Michel Soavi's incredible Italian horror film is one of the BEST horror
films ever made. It is made with obvious love and affection and respect for
the genre and it delivers in every department.
It is also a story about an improbable friendship that is moving and real.
It is surreal, bloody, beautiful, brutal and extremely well acted and photographed.
Rupert Everett is the caretaker of a cemetery where the dead don't stay dead. He has his hands full dealing with the recently returned and the undead love of his life.
Words can not do justice to the magic of this movie or the impression it leaves.
If you believe in the magic of cinema and are willing to embrace fantasy in its purest form, open yourself up to DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE.
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