From Peter Hall–“Quite simply one of the best horror movies of the ’90s. Sure, it’s not a straight scary movie, but it has a whimsical sense of the macabre that is impossible to not fall in love with. Style aside, it’s also just a very unique zombie film that doesn’t treat the undead like an abominable plague, but more like a comedic pestilence that one poor schlub has to deal with.”
A funny story about this White Elephant series and Peter’s assignment of this film to me is that Cemetery Man has been assigned to me before. Well, not really assigned, but our very own Brian Kelley very generously lent me his out-of-print DVD as a recommended companion piece to Dylan Dog: Dead of Night when it was released in theaters. I don’t know if it would have made Dylan Dog any better (probably not), but now that I’ve finally gotten the chance to see it, I’m even more grateful for this series as it has exposed me to a uniquely fantastic film in Cemetery Man aka Dellamorte Dellamore.
Based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi (who also wrote Dylan Dog), Cemetery Man is about Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery caretaker in a small town in Italy. He doesn’t have very many hobbies. He reads outdated phonebooks, crosses out the names of the dead, assembles puzzles, and oh yeah, he kills the dead when they’ve resurrected as they often do in his cemetery. He doesn’t have much in his life, but he’s got his dead and his loyal assistant Gnaghi, but one day at a funeral he meets a beautiful woman and they fall in love. Well fate has a funny way of intervening on all of Dellamorte’s lovers and he can no longer be with them, this begins his slipping grip on reality and his attempt at escaping the town he’s called home his whole life.
From it’s start, it’s evident that the film is more than just a charming story about a man who kills zombies, it’s a much smarter film than that. That credit goes to Rupert Everett for holding the film together. He’s in every scene of the film and if he were to have given a bad performance there isn’t anything that would have made this film watchable. Another saving grace for the film are the practical makeup effects. Zombies (or Returners as they’re actually called in the film) are given different looks, and the violence inflicted upon them all turned out wonderfully. Most of those instances are even captured on screen as opposed to only seeing the aftermath of a zombie hit.
It’s a dark film, it’s a funny film, it’s violent, it’s even kind of absurd in a good way. It’s a great film, and one that many might not even understand or appreciate, but great films have a way of separating those that might shun something for being a little bit different. Some research even indicated that Martin Scorsese called this one of the greatest films of the ‘90s. Now, for the sad news, I mentioned earlier that Brian lent me his out-of-print dvd of this film so I don’t know where one would go to get it, but if you’re ever in a used DVD shop and you come across this, it’s definitely worth it. Especially if you want to take a break from monsters, slashers, serial killers and vampires. This is something different, but this is something that’s damned good.