Cemetery Man (1994)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
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Overall Rating 70%
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Ranked #3,092
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A cemetery man has the unusual problem of the dead rising from the grave. Himself and his assistant must end these creatures' lives again after they are reborn. Everything is going well until "She" comes along and stirs things up a bit. --TMDb
Review by Chad
Added: June 26, 2006
Zombie films are my personal favorite subgenre from the world of horror. There's no particular reason for that, but in my opinion, a mediocre zombie film makes for a better night in front of the tube than, say, a damned good haunted house film. However, I will be the first to admit that the zombie subgenre has grown stagnant in recent years; there's only so much that can be done with the general premise, and when you've seen as many of these films as I have, it takes something really special to "wow" me. Cemetery Man was one of those films, thanks to the fact that while it is a zombie film, it's not really a zombie film. You'll see what I mean by that statement, I hope.

We begin the feature by getting a quick rundown of the main stars of the film and the situation that they're in. Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) and his mentally-handicapped assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) are the live-in caretakers of the local cemetery, but this is not your typical resting grounds for the dead. You see, on the seventh day after death, the dead return from their graves to attempt to devour the living. Nobody knows about this situation with the obvious exception of Francesco and Gnaghi, and they prefer to keep it that way; after all, it's rather simple to dispose of these zombies with a bullet to the head, and if the mayor knew about it, they'd be out of both a job and a house.

The situation takes a turn when "She" (Anna Falchi) walks into Francesco's life. "She" (she never had a character name) is the grieving widow of an elderly man who has been buried in this graveyard, and as such, she spends a good deal of her time visiting his grave. Francesco is immediately drawn to this lady, as he feels that this is the first time that he has ever felt love. He makes the moves on her, and although she resists at first, she perks up when she is offered a tour of the ossuary vault. Yes, the lady is just a tad bit morbid, and when she sees all of these human remains strewn out in the run-down building, it turns her on so much that she eventually decides to "give it up" for Francesco... with the stipulation being that they "do the do" on her former husband's grave, as she doesn't want to hide it from him. Francesco agrees, and as they're getting into it, her husband returns from the dead and bites her on the arm. From there on out, things just get even more bizarre, but there's no way that I'm going to spoil it here.

The best way to describe this film is that it is a beautiful mix of love, death, insanity, and of course, zombies. However, the zombies here are not the main focus of the film; they merely serve as a way to setup the storyline, and as such, those of you looking for a gore-soaked zombie flick should avoid this one. The main focus of the film is Francesco and the way that Falchi's death(s) affect him. Again, describing this in detail would ruin a fair chunk of the film for those of you who haven't seen it, but trust me when I say that the end revelations are highly memorable.

Now, I have to be honest with you readers: this is not a straight-forward, "here's what happened" sort of film. Things happen that, on the surface, appear to make no sense whatsoever, and it will take repeated viewings to piece everything together. I've watched this film four times over the course of a couple of years, and each time, my opinion on what really happened changes when the credits start to roll. The movie is presented in a dreamy haze of storytelling, and while it's certainly not for everyone, those of you who enjoy using your brain to piece together a movie will have a blast with this presentation.

Another thing that makes this film work so well is the attention to detail and the cast found within. When Francesco and Mrs. Falchi are making love in the graveyard, we witness a shot of Falchi riding Francesco where she is sitting straight up. In this shot, we see a statue of an angel behind her, and the angel's wings line up perfectly with Anna's sides, making her look to be an angel herself. There are dozens of shots just like this, and while most of them don't add anything to the overall storyline, they make the film a visual dream. The impressive visuals and wonderful storyline are all brought together by the excellent performances by the cast, with Rupert Everett showing exactly why Michele Soavi insisted that he have the lead role instead of some Hollywood punk (Soavi was offered a damned nice budget and distribution deal if he would put Matt Dillon in the leading role. The VHS version of this film has been out of print for ages, and it took over ten years for it to finally hit DVD - you do the math). Everett comes across as totally natural in his character portrayal, he brings humor when needed, and most importantly, he convincingly pulls off the insanity angle of the film to perfection. François Hadji-Lazaro is the other shining star of this film; the man has no lines in the movie with the exception of grunts and moans, but honestly, the man is just as memorable as Everett himself thanks to his excellent usage of physical storytelling. You'll never hear him say what's on his mind, but you can tell exactly what he's thinking based on how he moves and the expression on his face. Yes, the two male actors were perfect here, and Mrs. Falchi was no slouch either. She plays no less than four roles in the film, each with their own distinct personalities and mannerisms, and she does a hell of a job with each one.

Fans of art-house films will love this one, especially if you also happen to enjoy zombie films. Those of you bred purely on Romero's offerings and the Italian splatter-flicks may be turned off by the way that the storyline is told, but it's definitely worth checking out for those who want something refreshing from their undead offerings. 9/10.
Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added 12/20/2004, 03:07 AM
I think this movie is amazing. And it's not your typical horror flick either, it has a little bit of everything. You really get into Gnaghi's character. There are some parts with him that are kinda sad and some parts where's he's really funny. Like it was said above, it's not your typical zombie movie. But I think a zombie lover will really get into this movie, I know I did.
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 05/13/2008, 08:43 PM
My second faovrite movie of all time. Take that as you will.
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 04/26/2011, 12:42 PM
I'm not much a fan of artsy films, so the magic you guys felt was lost on me. Still I do owe this another viewing at some point.
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