Combustible Celluloid Review - Cemetery Man (1993), Gianni Romoli, based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi, Michele Soavi, Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche
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With: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche
Written by: Gianni Romoli, based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi
Directed by: Michele Soavi
MPAA Rating: R for macabre violence and gore, strong sexuality and some language
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/25/1994

Cemetery Man (1993)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fret 'Cemetery'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The front cover on Anchor Bay's new release calls it by its American theatrical title, Cemetery Man, but everywhere else by its real title: Dellamorte, Dellamore.

Rupert Everett stars in what is technically a zombie film, but one that goes into entirely unexpected directions. The film begins with Francesco Dellamorte (Everett) chatting on the phone. He is interrupted by a knock at the door. Standing at the threshold is a groaning zombie. Dellamorte dispatches it with a gun blast to the head and returns back to his phone conversation without missing a beat.

But this isn't particularly a movie about zombies. Sure, the recently buried dead at the Resurrectum Cemetery tend to come back to life, and yes Dellamorte and his simpleminded assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) are on hand to keep them under control, but Dellamorte, Dellamore has larger issues up its sleeve. Dellamorte's life changes when he spies a beautiful widow (Anna Falchi), who turns up to mourn her dead husband.

He becomes obsessed with her, and while making love on her late husband's grave, she's bitten by her late husband's zombie. But that's not all; the woman is seemingly "reincarnated" twice more, and each time something unexpected happens. Dellamorte begins to lose his grip. He has conversations with death and shoots living people before they have a chance to die and return as zombies.

Director Michele Soavi, a disciple of Dario Argento (Suspiria), strikes a unique tone with all this. Like Evil Dead II or Re-Animator, the film leans into modern comedy, but it also passes through moments of genuine longing and even existential crisis. Soavi is more concerned with exploring issues of life and death than merely aping the latest zombie movie ingredients.

It may be a shock for fans of the dashing, gay Everett from My Best Friend's Wedding (1998) to see him in such a dour (and heterosexual) part. But in fact his severe, long face fits perfectly with the character as it originally appeared in Italian comic books. (Dellamorte debuted in a series called Dylan Dog, and proved popular enough to inspire his own novel, written by Tiziano Sclavi, upon which this movie is based.)

The beautiful, ice-blue-eyed Falchi was a model-turned actress who apparently worked with Fellini on a TV commercial, but Dellamorte, Dellamore remains the high point in her filmography. In any case, Dellamorte, Dellamore is one unique film and a wake-up call for anyone who thinks recent zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later are cool.

Anchor Bay's 2006 DVD release comes with its own brand-new featurette, interviewing the director and Ms. Falchi.

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