Dellamorte Dellamore / Cemetery Man (1996)

Dellamorte Dellamore / Cemetery Man (1996) ‘Dellamorte Dellamore’ A.K.A ‘Cemetery Man’ is a somewhat hidden gem of horror cinema, and if Martin Scorsese calls Cemetery Man (1994) one of the best Italian films of the 1990s, then it has to be good, right? Right?!

If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch this bizarre horror “comedy” on one of its many delayed DVD releases, then you’ve already reveled in the love story of Francesco Dellamorte (played by Rupert Everett and yes, that’s the same Everett who voiced Prince Charming in Shrek 2 AND Shrek 3).

Everett plays the caretaker of an Italian cemetery in the town of Buffalora, Italy where he and his mentally handicapped assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) mind the dead who occasionally rise on the seventh day after their demise as “Returners.”

Ain’t That a Shot to The Head

cemetery man

Cemetery Man

But what Dellamorte is really fighting against is a stale love life and a lonely existence, the living dead and the cemetery merely provide a dark-backdrop to this core theme in the film. Lucky for him, he falls for a young widow without a name (Anna Falchi) who visits the cemetery. After luring her in with the ol’ “tell her about the ossuary” trick, the two have sex together next to her recently deceased husband’s grave. You can see where this is going…..her dead husband rises, bites the woman, and she dies — although the coroner claims her death was due to a heart attack. Heartbroken yet again, Dellamorte stays by her grave, and just as she begins to zombify, he shoots her.

However, the young widow rises yet again, and Dellamorte believes the coroner’s heart attack assertion may have been right: maybe he was the one to initially kill her. Things then get more strange – and whilst Dellamorte slides further into a fit of sadness, Death himself pays him a visit, and beckons him to kill the living instead of re-killing the dead.

From there on out, you’re in for a zany ride, with the rumour of Dellamorte’s supposed importance as a catalyst. Two more unnamed women are introduced to the plot: one terrified of sex and the other a prostitute. There’s plenty of killing, more irreverence from Gnaghi, and a button of an ending that stands to be a bit reflective.

There is an intimate feel about this movie (and not just because of the nudity) – there are no ruined cities, no zombie apocalypse, no groups of survivors – instead there is just a few people that have been mostly forgotten by society, who spend the entire film in the graveyard or in the small lodgings belonging to the caretaker. The camera work and the sets are at times beautiful, and heighten the feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The Death of Love… Or Something Like That

Cemetary Man

Cemetary Man

Cemetery Man didn’t arrive in the states until April 26, 1996 — a full two years after its Italian release. Its Italian title ‘Dellamorte Dellamore’ (based on Italian comic book author Tiziano Sclavi’s novel from her Dylan Dog comic book series) is probably the most rewarding turn of the whole project — it roughly translates to “About Death, About Love” (Dellamorte’s mother’s maiden name was Dellamore).

It’s also a mark of how the project takes itself just a bit too seriously. A campy advertising campaign ahead of the US release is proof that producers and audiences had a tricky time placing it.

And the whole experience does toe the line between camp and drama — and it’s unclear whether anyone involved knows that line even exists. This is the kind of movie you stumble on on HBO at 11:00 a.m. when you’re 14. Everett’s lines are sometimes too brooding (“I’d give my life to be dead”), his accent a bit too charming, all the scenery a bit too gray. Then BAM: you’re in a thunderstorm sequence of a man getting a shot in his penis. The gothic campiness that Scalvi’s novel got away with doesn’t always quite translate here….but it is fun all the same.

Like many of its kind, Cemetery Man is best reserved for a late hour (very late hour) in a dark room with a ton of friends — people ready to laugh, ready to repeat the most ridiculous lines to each other, and ready to not take the dooms of life as seriously as Dellamorte. After-all, his movie doesn’t anyway.

This movie is a wonderful oddity, and it stands alone on the sidelines in the overall horror genre, just like its main protagonist Dellamorte.

Watch Dellamorte Dellamore / Cemetery Man below:

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Buy the film at Button
Buy the film at Button