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The story of a man devoted to the dead; distracted by love and those hidden, human desires.

  • Oct 31, 2011
**** 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; and this is, by my definition, certainly one of the greats for its genre. Often cited as the last great Italian horror film, this adaptation of a 1991 novel written by Tiziano Schlavi - author of the popular "Dylan Dog" comics - is a bloody hoot. If that's what you expect out of director Michele Soavi, who is a noted assistant director for a good number of Italian-Horror legend Dario Argento's feature films, then you'll surely have a good time with this one.

It's no surprise that Schlavi's book covered the material that is at the center of "Cemetery Man"; the film itself resembles "Dylan Dog" in a variety of ways. Take, for instance, the premise: lonely cemetery caretaker Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) and his child-like assistant Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) work by night to defend their seldom-mentioned town from the returning undead that rise from the graves; zombies. Dellamorte has been doing his job for years now, and the townsfolk appreciate the skill and craft that he exercises in his work. But...what's a man working the graveyard shift to do? Dellamorte practically has less of a life than his dunce of a business partner. He lacks all love and basically all communication aside from those who respect and appreciate his choice of lifestyle and work. This is why it becomes a problem when Dellamorte finds himself mysteriously in love with a beautiful woman (Anna Falchi); who seduces him and pulls him deeper into an entirely new nightmare of psychological confusion, lust, and human desires.

Dellamorte is not much unlike me. He accepts his fate - and the rest of his life - but does not hesitate to challenge it. There are plenty of people who fear that they will never be able to understand or even "access" love; myself included. Francesco Dellamorte, that ever-so-relatable man, is a perfect portrait of the love-fearing internet dweller, the love-fearing gentleman living forever in isolation, or the love-fearing man who chooses where he stands on the romantic food chain.

So there is some resonance to be found here. We do indeed care about the two main characters; Dellamorte especially is a worrisome fellow, but his partner is a sympathetic, shy, lonely creature who has desires of his own. There's a sub-plot in the film where he finds love in the decapitated head of a girl who was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. It's this sort of dark comedy that carries the film from goodness to greatness; it will no doubt turn off some people with its violent, off-kilter style; however, if I can recommend it to anyone, it would be those who don't mind a film that tries to be something different, quirky, and unforgettable. "Cemetery Man" is all of those things, and gladly, not because it tries too hard to be each; but because it simply is.

I laughed plenty of times; or at least enough times to say that I felt the humor here was effective. Dellamorte's daily (or nightly) routine consists of a shower, a phone-call, a not-too-random zombie walk-in, and finally, a burial or two. It is funny because Dellamorte does not see any of these things as abnormal; and indeed, some of them are, and some of them are not. We all take showers, we all make phone calls, but do we all shoot zombies in the head with a pistol? Most of us haven't come close.

Not every horror film - even the truest among them - is intent on horrifying. While it often drifts further away from fright and edges more towards comedy, Soavi's film is still a "real" horror film. It has characters that we care about, a well-told story with philosophies and thoughts of its own, and spectacular imagery to boot. Those who think about horror movies more than the average genre fan will definitely find something of value here; "Cemetery Man" is thought-provoking and crafted with visionary intentions; and this is precisely why I think it classifies as great cinema.

A bizarre, uncomfortable sex scene atop the grave of a lost lover; the widely-known "surprise visit" from the Grim Reaper (Death) himself; and plenty of scenes involving the planting of bullets can all be found here. There's even an ultra-surreal ending - which I shall not spoil - that most certainly takes the cake for one of the most complicated and philosophical endings for a horror movie...ever. Some might find it pretentious, some might find it meaningless, but when you look into it, the finale isn't really either of those things. The film, seen through the eyes of simplistic analysis, is a story that highlights the boredoms of reality (love amongst the living) and our hidden yearnings. I find it relevant and creative; atmospheric, beautiful (on both the narrative and production sides), and wickedly entertaining. Not for all tastes, I will admit yet again, but few horror movies are; so for those who might want to check out "Cemetery Man", you know who you are...or at least you should.

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More Cemetery Man reviews
review by . September 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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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 …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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aka Of Death Of Love.
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Director: Michele Soavi
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Release Date: March 25, 1994
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: Audiofilm
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