Cemetery Man (1994) Directed by Michele Soavi
Consistently effective in its ludic, morbid exploration of the bizarre, but rarely effective in its dismembered preternatural philosophy. It’s all too easy to savor the putrefying zombie-esque anomalies that transpire in this tragicomedy and overlook its ambiguities when you have a film shot with irrepressible aesthetic vitality. Nevertheless, this gleefully grotesque 1994 film directed by Argento’s pupil never persuaded me with its Night of the Living Dead meets Evil Dead à la Italiana spectacle. Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is a cemetery caretaker in a small rural town where the dead rise from the depths of their graves causing discomfort to him and his loyal mute assistant (François Hadji-Lazaro). The funereal elegance of this deranged cemetery sets up spectral phenomenology and sacrilegious hilarity, but Michele Soavi’s lyrical direction leans towards romanticism – a very depraved but still romantic one – and necrophiliac passion; a facet that philosophizes with the material and immaterial questions surrounding the concepts of love in life and love after death. Anna Falchi’s voluptuous performance helps accentuate these suggestive details with superb charm. It is a daring film and extremely weird in its aims, yet I feel that the narrative gets too sidetracked by its campy delirium, leaving it with only vapid ideas. In the end, the enjoyment comes more from its trivial provocation than its intriguing existentialism. Unfortunately, the latter is peripheral to its crazy plot. The Italian title Dellamorte Dellamore is cool though.