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Dellamorte Dellamore
Directed by Michele Soavi
Written by Tiziano Sclavi (novel)
Gianni Romoli (screenplay)
Starring Rupert Everett
François Hadji-Lazaro
Anna Falchi
Music by Manuel De Sica
Riccardo Biseo
Cinematography Mauro Marchetti
Distributed by  United States October Films
Release date(s) 1994
Running time 105 minutes
Country  Italy,  France,  Germany
Language English
Italian
Budget $4,000,000 (estimated)

Cemetery Man (Italian title: Dellamorte Dellamore) is a 1994 Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. The screenplay by Gianni Romoli was based on the 1991 novel by Tiziano Sclavi. Sclavi is also the author of the comic Dylan Dog, which covers similar themes and whose protagonist is self-admittedly a Rupert Everett lookalike.

The film stars Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro and Anna Falchi. The film's story concerns the beleaguered caretaker of a small Italian cemetery, who searches for love while defending the town from zombies.

Contents

Plot

Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the cemetery caretaker in the small town of Buffalora, Italy. He lives in a ramshackle house on the premises, constantly surrounded by death, with only his mentally handicapped assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) for company, who expresses his ideas and opinions only saying "Gna". Young punks in town spread gossip that Francesco is impotent. He can open up to his only friend, Franco, by telephone, but when they meet in person, have little to say. Francesco's only hobbies are reading outdated telephone directories, in which he crosses out the names of the deceased, and trying to assemble a puzzle shaped like a human skull.

The inscription over the Buffalora Cemetery gate reads "RESVRRECTVRIS", and indeed, Francesco has had his hands full of late. The dead interred in the cemetery rise from their graves usually on the seventh day, reanimated and ready to assault the living. Francesco, as if trapped in a Sisyphean cycle, is duty-bound as cemetery caretaker, to destroy the "Returners" before they overrun the town.

Buffalora's mayor (Stefano Masciarelli) doesn't just disbelieve the cemetery caretaker's reports, but is so fixated on his campaigning that he seems unable even to hear Francesco's pleas for an investigation. Nor can Francesco surmount the complicated bureaucracy or mountain of paperwork to get assistance ("It's easier just to shoot them," says an exasperated Francesco).

Accepting his fate, Francesco and Gnaghi spend their days tending the cemetery grounds, doing their best to counteract the decay of ages, and their nights planting bullets and shovels into the brains of the walking dead. "This is my business," he says before wearily dispatching a zombie motorcyclist. "They pay me for it."

At a funeral, Francesco falls hard and fast in love, with the beautiful young widow (Anna Falchi) of a rich, elderly man. While consummating their relationship atop the grave, her husband returns, attacks, and bites the unnamed woman. Francesco kills her, believing his love turned to a zombie. After that, having lost his only love and destroying her, he begins plummeting into a deeper and deeper depression. Furthermore he is visited by the leering figure of Death, who tries to recruit Francesco as a fellow reaper.

Francesco repeatedly encounters women, all played by Falchi and listed in the credits only as "She", who resemble his lost love. He goes to outrageous ends to be with them - when the object of his affection confesses to being terrified of fertile men, Dellamorte visits the doctor to be made infertile - but circumstance or fate always steals away Dellamorte's lovers. This is mirrored as Gnaghi becomes sweetly obsessed with the Mayor's capricious daughter Valentina (Fabiana Formica). This fixation would seem to end tragically when she is decapitated in a motorcycle accident. Instead, Gnaghi digs up her reanimated head, and an innocent romance begins.

Prodded by the twin specters of Love and Death, Francesco begins to wonder if the easiest way to stop the dead from returning might be to shoot them in the head before burying them the first time. His grip on reality slipping, and despair mounting, Francesco destroys the final manifestation of "She" himself, and heads into town square at night with his revolver, shooting living people at random. When even these desperately demonstrative acts fail to change Dellamorte's situation - he cannot even get himself arrested when bluntly confessing his crimes to the police - he and Gnaghi pack up the car, and head for the Buffalora city limits. "Past this town is the rest of the world," Dellamorte muses, "What do you think the rest of the world looks like?"

However, upon exiting the last tunnel out of town, they find the road is destroyed and they cannot pass. Gnaghi is injured when Francesco slams on the brakes, and is knocked unconscious. Francesco, realizing that the rest of the world doesn't exist and fearing that his assistant is dead, loads a gun with two bullets to finish them both off. Before he can shoot, Gnaghi wakes up and throws Francesco's gun off the cliff. He then asks Francesco in plain English to please take him home. Francesco answers "Gna".

Reception

The film was released in Italy to little success. United States distributor October Films changed its title to Cemetery Man and saddled the film with a campy ad campaign, finally releasing it on April 26, 1996. In the US, Cemetery Man received mostly negative critical reaction,[1][2] small theatrical distribution (opening on six screens), and a frequently delayed Region 1 DVD release. The film missed popular success, grossing only $253,969 in the US, but found a stateside cult following over time, via home video. It currently holds a 64% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has a rating of 7.4 on imdb, Renowned director Martin Scorsese called Dellamorte Dellamore one of the best Italian films of the 1990s.[3]

Title

The title Dellamorte Dellamore is a word play in Italian, della morte (spelled as two separate words) meaning "of death" and dell'amore (again spelled separately) meaning "of love". The protagonist's last name is also Dellamorte and towards the end of the film we learn that his mother's maiden name was Dellamore.

Region 1 DVD release

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on R1 DVD on June 13, 2006 under the US title Cemetery Man.[4] The release features an anamorphic widescreen transfer, a making-of featurette entitled Death Is Beautiful, a theatrical trailer, and an 8-page collector's booklet.

References

  1. ^ Holden, Stephen, "Zombie-Bashing and Necrophilia", New York Times, April 26, 1996.
  2. ^ Stephens, Bob, "Jokes and Gore a Bad Mix in Cemetery Man, San Francisco Examiner, May 10, 1996.
  3. ^ "Michele Soavi - Filmography", New York Times, undated
  4. ^ Cemetery Man page on Anchor Bay's website

External links

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