Last night, I watched Cemetery Man, a early-to-mid 90s philosophical comedy involving zombies, a naked Rupert Everett, and musings about the nature of that horror show we call life. The whole movie seems to hinge on making not-quite-funny, not-quite-not-funny comments (visual and verbal) on the play on words between dellamorte and dellamore, meaning "of death" and "of love", respectively. When it was originally brought over to the States about a decade ago, it was played off as a campy zom-com in the lines of Return of the Living Dead or maybe Army of Darkness. It is much closer in tone and plot development as Uzamaki, in which the horror and humor elements eventually melt downstream a bit and it turns into a nonsensical search for sense.
My thumb is up on this one. Not only does it have a handful of "so callous they are funny" moments mixed in with some so strange they are practically beautiful moments, but Everett also plays Dellamorte (Francesco Dellamorte is the main character) as a disaffected man with so much charm it is hard not to love the character, despite the lack of any real redeeming qualities. He is practically unflappable, taking things in stride except when his heart goes out to the woman of his dream (or in this case, three women all played by the same actress). A good chunk of the movie is carried right on his shoulders. Of the other characters, probably only Gnaghi will catch your eye, a character somewhere between the Three Stooges' Curly and, well, some mentally broken, drooling Italian idiot. Despite saying practically nothing outside of "Gna!" and doing very little besides standing there, he is a well-played foil to the wry life that Dellamorte leads.
To sum up the plot would be hard, and it would probably ruin the fun of finding out that "man falls in love with zombie", as the cover suggests, is only maybe a third of the movie. Let's just say you have a man, who watches a cemetery to make sure that the undead are put to rest after coming back from the dead, who meets a series of strange people, is mocked by the town, and spends most of his life walking around, hanging out with his mentally deficient assistant, talking to some of the visitors, and being mocked by towns folk. As the plot thickens, questions about what is really going on escalate into some killings and some questions about, you guessed it, what is really going on. Why do they keep calling him "engineer"? Who is financing his bullet supply? Gna? Why does Falchi have such perfect nipples? What were those blue things? Is it really sweet to vomit on someone?
The ending, I will warn, is devoid of zombies. In fact, after an extended scene involving lots of zombie deaths (that I thought was going to be the ending), they become a background device that is referred to, but I do not remember returning to actual screen time. This is about an hour into the movie, meaning nearly half of the movie is zombieless. Be warned, living-deadheads, if you are looking for a Romero romp and only a Romero romp, you would probably be best hitting stop where he shoots the zombie through the window. You'll see what I mean. After that, it switches gears a little. Questions about identity and the boundaries of experience crops up. Lots of little sayings and cliches, some work and some sink, about the living and the dead (and the et cetera). Then, it gets to the actual ending and things are left to the imagination.
The DVD is pretty cheap (I paid about $5 for a new copy) so I recommend it. Nudity is a yes (you get to see lots of Anna Falchi's nipples). Some gore. Most of the violence is obviously "movie magic". Some of the humor is callous. In other words, a family film.
Si Vales, Valeo
PS: There is an explanation for the movie that I kind of like, that requires you take the scenes out of order. I will explain it in the box below.
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One theory goes like this. There is only one character in the while bit: Franco. He was an engineer who ended up killing a prostitute he thought loved him after he found out she did not. He goes crazy, kills several more people, and then confesses his crime before passing out and falling into a coma. The entire movie is his Id (represented by Gnaghi), his Ego (Dellamorte), and his Superego (Franco and/or the Detective) coming to grips with the crime. The past comes back to haunt him, so he has to keep killing it and reburying it. The explanation for this "theory" lies in the hospital room: both the notion of "stealing crimes" and the shot in which the hospital room ia all that is left out of reality. Against the theory, though, is the love affair of Gnaghi, which would not fit into the narrative; and I would say the line about killing out of indifference or love but never hate. Also, though he does kill a prostitute, he went with her because of her appearance.
I do not completely truck with this theory, since it assumes some things (like Franco = engineer) while also failing to explain a few basic things: the reactions of the townsfolk, why the old woman would be there, etc
Written by Doug Bolden
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