on June 28, 2004
Dellamorte Dellamore (Michele Soavi, 1994)
Soavi, who got his start as an assistant director to Italian horror god Dario Argento, spent his time making obscure B-movies until he stumbled upon Dellamorte Dellamore (Of Love and Death, but released in America under the title Cemetery Man), Giovanni Rimoli (Trauma)'s adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi's novel of the same name (one of the highly-praised and popular Dylan Dog novels that have made Sclavi a household name in most countries that are not on this side of the Atlantic).
Set in Dylan Dog's hometown of Buffalore, Dellamorte Dellamore is the story of Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett, who should need no introduction), the caretaker at a cemetery infected by a plague that causes the dead to come back to life seven days after being interred. Dellamorte (whose name translates as "St. Francis of the Dead") takes it all in stride, keeping around a variety of inventive weapons with which to re-dispatch the dead. After all, all that gravedigging means a lot of overtime pay, right? Dellamorte's sole companion in life is his sidekick, the seemingly mentally challenged Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro, recently in Brotherhood of the Wolf, but probably best remembered for his unforgettable role in City of the Lost Children). Until, that is, he spies the most beautiful woman (Italian supermodel Anna Falchi) he's ever seen at a funeral. Immediately, you know you're not watching your everyday horror film; Dellamorte becomes a bumbling romantic-comedy film star around her. And yes, that's what you've got here--a romantic comedy. With zombies.
The comedy/horror blend works extremely well, and in the process doesn't keep the viewer from seeing that there's a lot more underneath the hood than the surface would convey. (This is hinted at throughout, but becomes obvious in the final scene thanks to a startling trick Soavi hands us; watch closely, because you may not catch it unless you do. It's brilliant.) Dellamorte and Gnaghi are complex characters on the surface, but there are clues throughout the movie as to their deeper motivations and understandings of the things going on around them. To me, this is living proof that Rupert Everett is a better romantic comedy lead than Hugh Grant, but that's just me. (Hugh Grant hasn't worked with zombies!)
Dellamorte Dellamore is one of those movies you can't really believe was made in the nineties. Intelligent, beautifully-shot, low-budget horror/comedy that looks as if it came out of Dario Argento's salad days (or out of Japan; there's more than one aspect of this film that reminds me of the brilliant My Left Eye Sees Ghosts). I can't recommend this wonderful film highly enough. Go as far out of your way as you need to to catch this one. **** ½
on June 28, 2004
A movie with zombies, that's not about zombies. Go figure. It's more focused on the nature of love and the nature of death, as evidenced in the original Italian title Dellamorte Dellamore (the title "Cemetery Man" is a bit of a travesty).
The zombies fail to be horrific, since Francesco sees them as commonplace things. Which is probably the element that makes me say it's not horror. One of the few main elements in a [zombie] horror film is that the zombies must be scary! And sure they seem to unnerve Gnaghi a bit, but Francesco disposes of them as if he was stepping on cockroaches. They don't scare him, they're merely a nuisance.
And horror movies are mostly based on the conflict between the humans/good guys/whatever and the zombies/axe murderers/monsters/whetever. Cemetery Man is based on Francesco's experiences with and feelings about people and the world around him. In the beginning it seems like horror, with the zombies rising on the seventh day and all that. But once you see the way Francesco reacts to the zombies (as just part of his job, etc.) you know that they aren't the focus of the film.
The main things I like about this movie are the claustrophic atmosphere, and the fact that it can be interpreted in an endless number of ways. Was the first woman a zombie or just unconscious when Francesco shot her? If she was only unconscious, were the other women just his mind's way of punishing him? Why was it that no one could concieve of blaming him for his own crimes? Was he insane? Why did the dead come back? And so on.
My favorite scenes in the movie: When Gnaghi unearths the mayor's daughter and her head floats along the ground. Somehow, I just loved the impact this scene had. The way the head can really get around on its own lends a very surreal quality to the movie. Second, the scene with Francesco in the hospital. When he talks to his "friend," it's a real turning point in the movie. It really changes the atmosphere and the pace. An adjacent scene, where someone says to the fleeing Francesco "You have a gun? Good." is particulary great. The next would be the ending, but I won't give that away
on October 25, 2003
I have, for a long time, been a fan of Zombie movies in general. Stemming from a horror fascination and fear of the dead returning to life, since I was a child. This is a great Zombie flick to begin with, but don't approach this film with intent to see a Romero type Zombie fest. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of Zombies(very well done Zombies too)but the movie flows beyond gore and macabre. You really connect with this caracter, Delimorte. A fabulous actor, Rupert Everett, lets you into his psyche and his journy is crazy. The female lead is also amazing, amazingly beautiful that is. This movie is scary, hilarious, sexy, weird, and very damn cool.
GET IT NOW..........NOW.....NOW!!!