The name Michele Soavi may not ring a bell for most horror buffs but stating that the dude has quite the reputation may be an understatement. Although Italian horror seemed to have it's day in the sun long before Cemetary Man ever found it's way into our dark hearts, it would seem that Soavi was destined to become a legend in our living room. Having worked under such infamous horror auteurs such as Joe D'Amato & the beloved Dario Argento, it was only a matter of time before Soavi really made a splash on the international horror scene. Soavi also served as Assistant Director on the set of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Cemetery Man was his ultimate calling card.
Fortunately, Dellamorte Dellamore Cemetery Man was anything but your run-of-the-mill zombie flick or rank Italian horror flick. The film was based on Tiziano Sclavi's comic book Dylan Dog, and starred Rupert Everett in the lead role. Soavi's stylish horror film managed to not only breathe life into a dying genre but also attract a whole new audience who had yet to experience the grand pleasure of a true comedy horror. I must also confide that Cemetery Man also beat Shaun Of The Dead to the punchline by about 10-11 years which is quite impressive.
I first saw this masterpiece during the summer of 1996 when very little at your local box office would be even remotely interesting. Perhaps the only film that could even cause to bat an eye around that time was teenster flick "The Craft" which is not bad film by any means but definitely pales in comparison to "Cemetery Man". In a time when films by Italy's finest directors were nowhere to be found & the mom/pop theatres were nearly phased out largely due to the rising multiplexes which cater to the mainstream crowds, I was a bit dumbfounded to have something so deliciously wicked & entertaining as Soavi's film.
Francesco Dellamorte has the uneasy task of being Buffalora's cemetery watchman where the recently deceased rise from their graves usually within seven days. Dellamorte ( whose name translates as "St. Francis of the Dead") slaughters the living dead when they rise from their graves with the assistance of Igor-like assistant Gnaghi (played by Francois Hadji-Lazaro). That is, until the day he meets a beautiful young widow (Italian supermodel Anna Falchi) at a funeral & falls head over heels. And yes, now you have perhaps one of the most romantic if not tad erotic horror-comedies ever made. Everett may very well be the most romantic lead actor right up there with a Hugh Grant or Hugh Jackman if you will.
Unfortunately, Dellamorte's young love interest is about to meet an early demise after the two proceed to make love on the recently deceased husband's grave. In an almost hilarious montage, the jealous zombie husband rises from his earthly grave & attacks the beautiful widow. It would seem at this point that our hero has missed his chance at a new life & possibly love but this is only the beginning. Over the next hour, Francesco is destined to meet two other women who bare an uncanny resemblance to the widow & the end results are often hilarious if not darkly comical.
While it may be difficult for some to subscribe to this kind of film, I highly recommend you check this one out if you're into strange cult films or even zombie flicks with a twist. Unlike Soavi's teachers or mentors, Michele is more interested in creating dream-like sequences which linger on in your head for days while intentionally making you giggle during your "squirm" moments. Perhaps he is one of the few directors in his native country or any other who has successfully proved that horror does not have to be confined to just great FX & can have broader themes which may very well appeal to a wider audience. Make no mistake, it's a winner all the way around & deserves every bit of recognition it's received.
**** out of **** "Cemetery Man" is another one of those horror flicks where you either love it or you hate it. I've heard some critics call it "vile" and "witless", while others "appreciate the satirical undertones" and praised the writing as well as the directing. Only a select few are truly in the middle. But you know what...I don't really care what others think. I love a lot of movies because I should rightfully be able to embrace and remember however many of them I want; … more