Wednesday, March 16, 2011

#222. Cemetery Man (1994)

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi

Tag line: "Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!"

Trivia:  Tangerine Dream was originally supposed to do the soundtrack, but a scheduling conflict prevented them from doing so

As Cemetery Man opens, Francesco (Rupert Everett) is on the phone. There's a knock at the door.  Francesco opens it to find a well-dressed man (Vito Passeri) standing in front of him, holding a briefcase. 

Under normal circumstances, this guy would have had all the makings of a door-to-door salesman, but there's something odd about him; along with the dirt caked on (and under) his fingernails, ants are crawling all over his ear. 

We're not quite sure what's wrong with Francesco's visitor, but he is.  

As quick as he can, Francesco pulls a gun and shoots this stranger through the head. He then nonchalantly turns back around, picks up the phone, and carries on with his conversation. 

You see, Francesco works as a watchman at his town's cemetery, and one of his chief duties is to make sure the dead stay in their graves, something they've been quite reluctant to do. In order to keep panic from spreading throughout the town, Francesco quietly puts a bullet in the head of every waking corpse (he calls them 'returners'), after which his dim-witted assistant Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) reburies them. 

Keeping the dead in their place has become a full-time job for Francesco, and he's content with what appears to be his lot in life. That is until She (Anna Falchi) enters the picture. A recent widow, She visits the cemetery each and every day, placing flowers on the fresh grave of her beloved husband. Francesco becomes obsessed with this beautiful widow, and strikes up an affair with her. 

For the first time in his life, Francesco is in love, and the world suddenly seems like a happier place. But can this new romance survive a re-appearance by the woman's dead husband (Ronato Donis), who we might assume, even in his zombie-like state, would be none too happy to find his wife in the arms of another man? 

This is but one of the many tales woven into Cemetery Man, a film filled to its breaking point with characters, situations, and a hell of a lot of imagination.  

Shot in Italy by director Michele Soavi, Cemetery Man is a horror/comedy with a distinctly European flavor, one that brings a very dream-like atmosphere to the entire film. In one of the movie's best moments, Francesco is making love to the widow near her husband's grave. As their passion mounts, the camera tracks below ground to reveal the husband has "returned", and is clawing at the sides of his casket to break free.  He eventually does escape, and, once above ground, attacks the lovers, taking a bite out of his widow's arm moments before Francesco bludgeons him with a cross. As with many such moments in Cemetery Man, there's an otherworldliness to this whole scene, and we get a sense that it all could have just as easily been a figment of Francesco's imagination. 

A lot of the humor in Cemetery Man is hit or miss: a dead biker (Allesandro Zamattio) inexplicably breaks out of his grave riding his motorbike, and there's a strange romance involving Gnaghi and a severed head that is amusing but never develops into much. 

Yet even these moments work towards building the film's metaphysical persona, and we're often left wondering if what we're seeing is real or not. 

Ultimately, it's a moot point; in the fantasy-laden world of Cemetery Man, things are as 'real' as they're ever gonna get!


Anonymous said...

Original title is "Dellamorte Dellamore" and the States wanted to pick this up but only if Matt Dillon was to be in it. When that failed it went ahead anyway and became a flop. Making only $20,000 in cinemas on a $4.7 million budget. It has actually got more respect from the horror enthusiasts over the year since the comedy-horror mixture made popular by Scream, this sent horror enthusiasts to like this one. It was hard to tell by your description if you recommend this but if you don't mind my two cents, it is well worth a buy. I would put like a 7.5 on this one.

The Hammer Prod. podcast was fascinating much scrutiny on the latter Hammer films which I really liked.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, also, for the great info on CEMETERY MAN (and, yes, I did enjoy the movie. It's one I recommend). It's a shame the original Box Office was so low on this movie: I thought it had a nice pace, and as I said above, a hell of a lot of imagination to it. Even if it does get a bit goofy at times, it's an entertaining movie that is never, ever boring.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Podcast. We got very deep into these 5 later Hammer films, many of which had me longing for the stgudio's earlier days!

Thanks again for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

listened to the latest cast and would like to thank you for running this special 2 week horror reviews.

did you ever think of going to an only horror blog>>>now that would be rad!

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by.

It's my pleasure to present horror for the next 2 weeks, and I sincerely thank all of the Planet Macabre fans for their comments and support.

No plans to go 100% horror, I'm afraid, but I will more than likely have additional 2-week stretches such as this one for fans of the show.

Thanks for listening to Planet Macabre.

Ian said...

I love this movie.

That is all. :-)

DVD Infatuation said...

Ian: Not much more needs to be said, does it? :)

I love it too.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by. And yes, SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA was WAY late in Hammer's horror history, and it definitely shows (Lee and Cushing were definitely tired of them by this point).

Thanks for listening to Planet Macabre