Sunday, December 27, 2009

'Cemetery Man' is a creepy, funny zombie romp

Cemetery Man (aka "Of Death and Love" and "Demons '95") (1994)
Starring: Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, François Hadji-Lazaro, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, and Katja Anton
Director: Michele Soavi
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Francesco Dellamorte (Everett) is the caretaker of a small-town cemetery.He spends the days burying the deceased, and his nights violently returning them to their graves when they rise as flesh-eating zombies. The steady, if creepy and gory, routine of Dellamorte's life is disrupted when both he and his assistant (Hadji-Lazaro) meet the loves of their lives (Falchi and Formica, respectively), only to see them promptly turned into undead residents of the cemetery. From there, things really start to go down hill for them.

"Cemetery Man' is a surreal horror comedy that moves effortlessly from the humorous to the horrific, and from the sexy to the savage. From the very beginning of the film, there is a dreamlike quality about the film that intensifies as it unfolds and which culminates the film's curious ending. Although the ending is rather weak, it sheds light on the strange events that have led up to it. (If it hadn't confirmed what I had come to believe about the cemetery and the village is supports, I would have labeled it a cop-out, as it's not exactly a satisfying ending, even if it fits with the film.

Although there is a fair amount of sex and gore in the film, I can't recommend it for gorehounds, or those looking for cheap thrills (even if Anna Falchi's repeatedly displayed breats are quite thrilling!). The film is a bit on the slow side for that sort of audience. It's worth seeing first and foremost for the interesting visuals and gallows humor, and secondarily for the underlying themes of... well, life, death, and the afterlife.

(Those out there familiar with the "Dylan Dog" graphic novel series from Dark Horse may also want to check out the film. It's based on a novel by Dylan Dog creator, Tiziano Sclavi. I can only assume that it's a faithful adaptation, because the film's story, pacing, and humor was reminicent of the first "Dylan Dog" book printed in the United States (which also features zombies).