Monday, July 19, 2010

Zomblog Review: "Cemetery Man"

“Cemetery Man”
Stars: Rupert Everett, Francois Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi
Writer: Gianni Romoli
Dir: Michele Soavi
99 minutes

It has been more than 10 years since I first viewed “Cemetery Man” (aka “Dellamorte Dellamore”). And, to use a worn cliché, it is like fine wine.
Where should one begin in describing this masterpiece? I guess I should start with tearing down Michele Soavi, who made such fan-favorite genre pieces as “Stage Fright” and “The Church”; both forgettable fare for the uses of this blog, and, the perceptible horror fan. Soavi was a one-trick-pony prior to “Cemetery.” He knew how to get the great gore shots. He knew how to make his actors stand and be pretty, and he had a vague grasp on how to tell a cohesive story. Should anyone go back and view this film and “Stage Fright” side-by-side, the differences are staggering. There is no way I could convince anyone the same person made them aside from showing the DVD case.
Luckily for Soavi, he had much more working for him in “Cemetery Man.”
The story is fairly simple on the surface. Francesco Dellamorte is a grave caretaker — the only problem being is his graveyard seems to be overrun with “returners” as he calls them: after 7 days, the recently buried inexplicably rise from the dead and annoy him. He expels the annoying with point-blank-range shots to the head, and then has his “special” nearly-mute assistant, Gnaghi, replace them in their graves.
Dellamorte identifies himself as, literally, “the St. Francis of death.” For the Biblically unschooled, St. Francis of Assisi was the patron saint of animals, the caregiver of the most helpless (in most cases). Dellamorte is shouldered with the great burden of ensuring the dead remain dead. And, being a gravedigger and cemetery caretaker, this presents plenty of work and sleepless nights, which, eventually, begin to take a toll on the hapless hero. And his work becomes even more difficult and distracted by the ever-distracting Anna Falchi, who plays a widow grieving over a death (of her very old, but very ‘loving and giving’ husband…watch the dead lover’s headstone in key scenes for an extra chuckle).
I simply cannot give any review for this film without the mention of Death himself in this film. When the Grim Reaper shows up near the middle of the film, I cannot help but get chills; Monsieur Death in this film is truly frightening, even when the audience knows he appears to secure plot points (and perhaps to throw the audience one of the many curveballs).
A few points to hammer home: first, this film is loaded with style and spot-on cinematography. It is beautifully shot. The first 15 minutes stand alone as probably the best, atmospheric, and tone-setting of many modern horror films. It establishes more in those few minutes than a Michael Bay montage. We know Dellamorte, we know Gnaghi, we know the widow. And we get to see Falchi’s (the widow) phenomenal assets.
And then there is Rupert Everett, whom American audiences devoured in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” a film that should not even exist, let alone get a mention here. Everett is amazing in “Cemetery.” From confused, to heroic, to romantic, he runs the gamut, giving the film the life it needed. He plays brooding with ease, and the audience understands why. He is alone, save for Gnaghi. And, even there, he is alone. He is a sad and cautious man who suffers greatly whenever his caution gets thrown to wind (or Anna “oh-my-god-did-you-see-her?” Falchi appears).
And when the film turns from dark-comedic to deadpan serious, he carries it with ease. The film as a whole is great slapstick and incredibly funny without even trying. And hold onto your seat for the holy-crap, mind-f*ck, out-of-nowhere-ending of this film. It seamlessly went from fun zombie horror film to “your mind is being raped” in a matter of minutes.

Romero Rules Followed: 3/5 The dead rise, pursue the living, and can be killed with head trauma; However, some of the zombies talk and seem to remember what happened to them prior to dying the first time (if the zombies actually ate someone, it would be a four).
Gore factor: Moderate, but surprisingly, the most gore comes when Dellamorte slaughters a gang of reanimated Boy Scouts. Who doesn’t want to do that?
Zombies or Wannabees? They come out of the grave, with tree roots, dirt, and all. These suckers are zombies.
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Classic
Additional comments: Anna Falchi…Jumping Jeebus.



  1. Oh My Best Friend's Wedding, forever remembered as the movie which debuted #2 at the box office, right behind BatNipples and Robin.

  2. The moment I wake up, before I put on my make up...I say a little prayer for youuuuu....