Director – Michele Soavi
Cast – Rupert Everett, Francois Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Katja Anton, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander, Pietro Genuardi, Patrizia Punzo, Stefano Misciarelli
Release Year – 1994
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I had been meaning to catch for quite some time due to the constant praise I read/heard from the horror community. Directed by former Dario Argento protégé Michele Soavi, this flick is one of the most original horror films I have EVER seen. Based off of the Italian “Dylan Dog” comic series, this flick mixes zombies, humor, and romanticism with the most fragile of mindsets. Read on.
“Cemetery Man” stars Rupert Everett as Francesco Dellamorte, a full-time graveyard keeper who lives on site with his mute friend Gnaghi in the small town of Buffalora. Francesco it not merely just any old graveyard keeper, for in this graveyard every corpse must be killed a second time when it rises from the dead seven days after burial. Ever the hopeless romantic, Francesco one day meets the woman of his dreams, the only woman he can ever love. When she dies the is thrown into an overwhelming world of love and death that leaves him desiring to leave the small town, which will be harder than he thinks.
Wow, this film really did surprise me because it was far from what I expected. I expected the usual Italian zombie antics(which I do enjoy) but this film gave me so much more than that. Perfectly crafted by Michele Soavi this film had me hooked from beginning to end with it’s amazing visuals and obvious shout-outs to the 1950’s style horror films. Amazing atmosphere and sets give this film an addicting aesthetic that was complimented by it’s very original screenplay. Those of you going into this film expecting an outright zombie flick(as I did) will be shocked to find that this flick does not focus on zombies, but on Francesco. The zombies are only a compliment to the film and a way for us to get a look at the droll mundane life Francesco lives. Sure many of us would find it cool to kill zombies, but killing zombies and having to “cover-up” the events would be a nuisance in my opinion.
Rupert Everett’s performance in this film is very well done, and the use of his character is a true testament to great film making. We see him go from a solemn zombie killer to a psychopathic murderer bent on killing the living so he does not have to kill them again when they make their way to his cemetery. What is the root of this? Love. That is right…love. He has never had any luck with women, especially with the townsfolk spreading nasty rumors about his…thing. When he does meet a beautiful girl(the very beautiful Anna Falchi) she perishes, which leads him further down the dark tunnel he lives in mentally. Symbolism is key with this film, and Michele Soavi does a fantastic job at displaying such obvious nods towards Francesco’s psyche. The pain you feel for him is real, both for him and for the mute Gnaghi(who is used excellently as well). I could go further, but I do not want to ruin any of the many positive turns this film takes.
I do not have any major problems with this film, but I will say that this is one you must pay attention to if you wish to “get” the film at the end. Even I myself am not sure if I absolutely “get” this film, but from my understanding it makes a lot of sense to me. If true, then this film is absolute genius.
Overall, this is a great Italian horror film that will surprise you with the many different elements that are thrown in for a “zombie film”. Focusing much on love and romanticism, this is one that is sure to make you believe you can be as dead as the villains we love, yet crave love to the same extent as Count Dracula himself.