WTFW: Cemetery Man (1994)

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WTFW: Cemetery Man (1994)

Cemetery Man (Italian title: Dellamorte Dellamore) is a 1994 comedy horror film directed by Michele Soavi.  A co-production of Italy, France and Germany, 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's story concerns the beleaguered caretaker of a small Italian cemetery, who searches for love while defending the town from zombies.

Tiziano Sclavi was born in Broni (province of Pavia) in 1953.  He now lives in Milan where he works principally as a comic strip writer.  He made his debut in the world of comics writing the texts for Gli Aristocratici in collaboration with Alfredo Castelli.

He worked for several years as the editor of Corriere dei Ragazzi and later for Corriere dei Piccoli and created various comic strip series, including Altai & Jonson, Bizarro, Archivio Zero and JohnJohn va nel West.

He subsequently contributed to Il Giornalino and since 1981 has been the editor of Cepim (which later became Sergio Bonelli Editore), where he wrote stories for Mister No, Ken Parker and Zagor.  In 1986 he created his most famous character, Dylan Dog (also known as the "nightmare investigator").  The following year he created the character Roy Mann together with artist Attilio Micheluzzi.

Cemetery Man (1994)

  • Original Title: Dellamorte Dellamore
  • Genre: Comedy – Horror
  • Directed: Michele Soavi
  • Produced:
    • Conchita Airoldi 
    • Heinz Bibo 
    • Tilde Corsi 
    • Dino Di Dionisio 
    • Michèle Ray-Gavras 
    • Gianni Romoli 
    • Michele Soavi
  • Written:
    • Tiziano Sclavi (Novel) 
    • Gianni Romoli (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Katja Anton, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander, Pietro Genuardi
  • Music:
    • Riccardo Biseo 
    • Manuel De Sica
  • Cinematography: Mauro Marchetti
  • Editing: Franco Fraticelli
  • Studio:
    • Audifilm 
    • Urania Film 
    • K.G. Productions  
    • Canal+  
    • Silvio Berlusconi Communications  
    • Bibo Productions  
    • Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l'Europe
  • Distributed:
    • Distribuzione Angelo Rizzoli Cinematografica
    • October Films  
    • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distribution
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Cinekult  
    • Fox Video  
    • Penta Video S.r.l.  
    • Shameless Screen Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 25 March 1994 (Italy)  26 April 1996 (USA)
  • Running Time: 105 minutes
  • Country:
    • Italy 
    • France 
    • Germany
  • Language: Italian

Francesco Dellamorte is the cemetery caretaker in the small Italian town of Buffalora.  He lives in a ramshackle house on the premises, constantly surrounded by death, with only his mentally handicapped assistant Gnaghi for company.  Young punks in town spread gossip that Dellamorte is impotent.  His 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.  Gnaghi, whose interests include spaghetti and television, can speak only one word: "Gna."

The Latin inscription over the Buffalora Cemetery gate reads RESVRRECTVRIS ("They will resurrect"), and indeed, Dellamorte has had his hands full of late.  Some people rise from their graves on the seventh night following their death, reanimated and ready to assault the living.  Dellamorte destroys these creatures, whom he calls "Returners", before they overrun the town.  Buffalora's mayor is so fixated on his campaigning that he seems unable even to hear Dellamorte's pleas for an investigation.  In any event, being an outcast in the village and almost illiterate, Dellamorte doesn't want to lose the job.  He opens up to his only friend, Franco, a municipal clerk, but doesn't file the paperwork necessary to get assistance: "It's easier just to shoot them."

At a funeral, Dellamorte falls hard and fast in love, with the unnamed young widow of a rich, elderly man.  The widow only begins to show an interest when Dellamorte tells her about the ossuary, which she adores.  While consummating their relationship by her husband's grave, the husband returns, attacks, and bites her.  She seems to die from the bite, but the coroner claims it was a heart attack.  Fearing the worst, Dellamorte stays near her corpse, and shoots her when she rises.

Gnaghi becomes infatuated with the mayor's capricious daughter, Valentina.  This 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.  The young widow also rises again, causing Dellamorte to believe that she was not really a zombie when he first shot her, in which case it was he who killed her.  He plummets into a depression and is visited by the leering figure of Death, who tells him to "Stop killing the dead", asking him why he doesn't shoot the living instead.

Dellamorte encounters two more unnamed women, also played by Falchi.  He goes to outrageous ends to be with the first of these, an assistant to the new mayor: when the object of his affection says she is terrified of sexual penetration, Dellamorte pretends that the rumor about his impotence is correct, and visits a doctor to have his penis removed.  The doctor talks him out of it, giving him an injection for temporary impotence instead.  Meanwhile, the woman has been raped by her employer, and then fallen in love with her rapist, discarding both her phobia and the cemetery man.

His grip on reality slipping, Dellamorte heads into town at night with his revolver, shooting the young men who have made fun of him for years due to his rumored impotence.  He meets a third manifestation of the woman he loves, but upon finding out that she is a prostitute, he kills her and two other women by setting their house on fire with a room heater.  His friend Franco is accused of these murders after killing his wife and child, and attempts suicide the same night by drinking a bottle of iodine.  Dellamorte goes to visit his friend in the hospital, to find out why Franco stole his murders.  Sitting by the hospital bed, he casually murders a nun, a nurse, and a doctor.  Franco doesn't even recognize him, so even these acts fail to change Dellamorte's situation.  He screams out a confession, but is ignored.

Gnaghi and the caretaker pack up the car, and head for the Buffalora city limits and the mountains beyond. Gnaghi's head is injured when Dellamorte slams on the brakes.  They get out of the vehicle and walk to the edge of the road, where it drops into a chasm.  Gnaghi begins to seize, and collapses to the ground.  Dellamorte, realizing that the rest of the world doesn't exist and fearing that his assistant is dead or dying, loads a gun with two dum-dum bullets to finish them both off.  Gnaghi wakes up and drops Dellamorte's gun off the cliff.  He then asks to be taken home, speaking clearly. Dellamorte replies: "Gna."

In January 2011, Fangoria reported that director Michele Soavi was planning a sequel to his 1994 film.  Soavi planned to shoot the film sometime near the end of 2011 or early 2012.  He would produce the film himself and wanted the film to be a great, strong, shocking Italian horror film.


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