Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
Directed by Michele Soavi
Starring Rupert Everett, Francois Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander
The first time I watched this film, it was from a bootleg VHS tape, several generations down from the original source, in Italian with no sub-titles. I was very familiar with the director, being a huge fan of his first three films, and was very excited to see his latest, even if it meant watching it under these particular circumstances. And it didn’t matter. Soavi’s use of the camera, the look and feel of the film, and giving us something like we hadn’t seen before, even though I might not have understood exactly what was going on, I still loved it. Soon, I would upgrade my copy to another crappy looking tape, but this time in English. Then a great looking one, but back to Italian. Then finally splurging the money and acquiring the actual Japanese laserdisc, which has one of the best covers to date, which you can see to the right.
Not sure why, but when this film was released over here in the states, some moron decided that the original titles would confuse people, so they changed it to Cemetery Man. Nice job, dumbass.
Rupert Everett stars as Francesco Dellmorte, who is the caretaker for the Buffalora Cemetery. With his faithful, but simple-minded partner Gnaghi (played wonderfully by French actor François Hadji Lazaro), he has a lot of extra work on his hands with this particular job. That’s because the dead don’t stay buried for long at this cemetery. After seven days, they return as the living dead. So Francesco has to dispose of them and put them to rest once again, but this time for good. There’s really no explanation as to why they return, they just do. And Francesco doesn’t really want to make a big deal out about it, since then they might close down the cemetery and then he would lose his job and his place to live. So life, and death, goes on. Until the day, a beautiful young grieving widow shows up, played by the stunning Anna Falci. Then things get really strange!
Everett plays our lead character with such flair, really wanting to do more with this life, but just seems to be stuck in this dead-end job (yes, pun fully intended). His problems are nothing like we’d consider a bad day, but he still tries to do his best. Lazaro is always a treat when he is on screen, creating such a loveable and fun character that you can’t help but feel sorry for. Of course, any second that Falci shows up on screen will get your attention. And the sequence with her and Everett in the cemetery in the moonlight…Just wow.
Once again, just like his previous films, Soavi shows us his incredible knack for unforgettable imagery. Unlike his last two films that were produced by Dario Argento, he is on his own this time, but still proves he is more than capable as a director. Right the from the very opening shot, as the camera comes through the telephone cord and we can see the kind of visual ride we are in for and he doesn’t disappoint. There are more shots in this film that are just pure poetic beauty. Yes, even in a horror film you can find these, and some of them here are just breathtaking. So major kudos to Soavi and cinematographer Mauro Marchetti for making it look as good as it does.
The music by Manual De Sica sounds very similar to what Tangerine Dream might have come up with. If often reminds me of the score they did for Near Dark. But De Sica’s score here adds wonderfully to the mysterious world of Francesco Dellamorte. It’s creepy at times, brings on an era of mystery at others, and is still one of my favorite scores.
This is one of those stories that might have you scratching your head a bit while you try and figure out just what is going on, don’t worry about it but just sit back and enjoy. There’s humor, some dark and other moments that will have you laughing out loud, some imaginative gore, great characters, and just a lot of fun. In fact, there has been many discussions that this film is the last great Italian horror film before the decline in that country’s horror output, which is a very sad thing. Yes, we still have Argento every now and then, but nothing like it was back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Ah….such a wonderful time in horror cinema….