Director: Michele Soavi
Written by: Gianni Romoli
Weapon of Choice: Spade
Based upon: novel - Dellamorte Dellamore - Tiziano Sclavi
Country of Origin: Italy
Other movies in this series:
The tyranist's thoughts
Years ago, when the site was still very young, Rish and I sat down to watch this little gem. I absolutely adored it. He found it befuddling and actually ended up sleeping through most of the last half hour of the movie. When Anchor Bay recently re-released it on DVD, we jumped at the chance to watch it again. I wanted to see if it held up after years of horror flicks both good and bad. I think Rish wanted to find out if that bit he slept through made all the difference and a movie he disliked was really something worth seeing.
A cemetery watchman (as he describes himself, a sexton to anyone else) and his imbecile assistant are seeing more of the dead than they want to. It seems that some time within a week the cadavers are returning to life and seeking to eat human flesh. Some of them return as classic mindless zombies; some with considerably more intelligence and wit. When Francesco Dellamorte, the aforementioned sexton falls for a particularly attractive widow, it sets of a chain of events from which Francesco seems unlikely to recover.
What attracts me most to this movie is its visualization. The setting of the cemetery is spectacular and filmed to good effect. The characters are nearly perfectly cast against that background. And the entire thing is visionary and surreal and a wonder to behold.
It was only after this second viewing that I found out that the movie is based not only on a book, but also in a sort of indirect way on a comic book as well. The documentary explains a few of the odder bits that creep into the film, but it doesn't in any way answer some of the most fundamental questions about Dellamorte's experience.
And that is the thing that will drive viewers away. Unfortunately.
I've gone on record before about hating non-linear narratives. They are very hard to do and quite frequently end up just making a hash of what could have been a good movie. In the case of Dellamorte Dellamore the narrative is linear in the same way that certain maths seem to produce curves that look impossible when beheld with the naked eye, but make perfect sense when viewed through the numbers. To behold the curves themselves is to face madness, but to understand the geometry is to transcend.
But I digress.
If you enjoy looking at a beautiful movie and don't mind a surreal plot, this movie is a perfect movie. If you insist that the movie wrap up neatly with all constants defined, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. In our after film discussion, I offered Rish two completely separate explanations for the ending and feel that both are completely valid readings of the film. What's more, I think there are more readings that are valid. The further I delve into it, the more the movie becomes like a philosophical expedition and the less it becomes a simple zombie flick.
And I like movies like that. Or at least some movies like that. Some of them are horribly done. At any rate, I recommend this one if you happen to have a penchant for mental buggery . . . er . . . I mean, thought-provoking film.
Posted: September 11, 2006
Rish Outfield's reviews
1999 Review: Strangely foreign and excessively bizarre, this was a fairly high-budget horror film about a gravedigger (what's the technical term, tyranist? You see, he was one for a while, which may explain his macabre nature and pleasure in seeing sick stuff like this) ["Sexton" is the correct term -- tyranist] in a graveyard where the dead don't stay that way for long.* Tyranist just adored this movie. I liked the first half a great deal, but started to lose interest as things became complicated and artsy. I liked the nudity. I liked the gore. I even liked (for the most part) Rupert Everett. I just didn't like not knowing what was going on. The ending left me completely dry. It was just a little too surreal. But the violence was cool, and the idea was great. You be the judge.
2006 Review: Tyranist and I got together at his place and rewatched Cemetery Man the other night. A lot has changed in the years since I wrote the above paragraph. We do reviews and links and Skulls differently now, I'm a lot more forgiving and write a lot more for each movie, I type up the HTML myself now instead of sending it to tyranist to do, I now worship the devil, I bother tyranist about getting in overdue reviews instead of the other way around, we're both now out of school, I now work more hours than I ever thought I would have, we rent only DVDs instead of combing the VHS racks for Horror, I rent movies online instead of on the video store, I visit tyranist in a house instead of an apartment, he visits me in a cardboard box instead of a prison cell, we often see and review movies separately instead of only doing it together, we now review television shows, animation, and TV movies (instead of just feature-length films or mini-series), and, of course, I now drive a flying car that runs on pints of undistilled monkey urine. So yeah, a lot has changed.
But not a lot about the movie changed.
It was still too surreal, too rambling and random and cobbled together from different sources (novel and comic book and screenwriter and director and inspiration and absinthe). Parts, like the romance with the severed head and the unmotivated killing spree were too wacky and mean-spirited for my taste. The second half of the film was still deliberately confusing and obtuse and dreamlike and unexplained, and it left me not only feeling lost, but angry for giving it a second chance.
But Rupert Everett was good and Anna Falchi was damn hot. The sex was nice and a lot of the telling was lyrical and lovely. The idea is still good, and I think a lot of the scenery, setpieces, and cinematography was top-notch. But what the hell was going on? I found it hard to enjoy since it seemed to take place in a world of its own, with its own rules and laws and utter lack of consequences, and the film seemed to end again and again, only to start up again with the rules of the world (and its characters) changed around.
And the ending was terrible. Worse than terrible. I still (even after tyranist explained it to me, going as far as bringing in charts, graphs, a PowerPoint presentation, and an abacus) have no idea what it means. If anything.
Seven years have passed and the movie still didn't work. I know a lot of people like it, but a lot of people like "The Simpsons" since it's gone to hell. Go figure.
*"Where the dead don't stay that way for long." That would make a great tagline.
Posted: September 19, 2006
Total Skulls: 22
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Warning goes unheeded|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood spatters - camera, wall, etc.|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|