27. feb, 2015

Weird Movie Corner: Dellamorte Dellamore - The Cemetery Man (1994)

Plot Ouline: The residents of Buffalore cemetery don't stay dead for long. They have a tendency - unexplained by voodoo, radiation, or chemical spills - to rise from their graves in search of human flesh, and it's up to cemetery caretaker Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) and his sidekick Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) to put them back in the ground with a bullet in the skull or a shovel in the brain. Dellamorte is content to live a lonely, isolated life - with everyone in the village thinking he is impotent - until he meets a breathtakingly beautiful, death-obsessed widow (Anna Falchi). And then it all spirals out of control..

Based on the comic by Tiziano Sclavi, Dellamorte Dellamore was director Michele Soavi's fourth film and his first after a near-decade-long collaboration with Dario Argento that found him working simultaneously as an actor, assistant-director (Tenebrae, Phenomena and Demons) and second-unit director on Opera, as well as an assistant-director and actor on Lamberto Bava's films. 

Dellamorte Dellamore is a zombie movie with a character. It concentrates on the human characters rather than the zombies (or in Francesco's words: Returners), and gives as much play to the turmoil of the spirit as it does to the carnage that spills from the body. Francesco is a misfit and a nihilist. He also commands our attention and our sympathy as he slouches toward the inevitable. Gnaghi is by turns irritating and pathetic. He develops a decidedly unhealthy crush on the mayor's daughter (and the mayor's daughter's disembodied head). The results of that are unsettling and funny at the same time. The production design is simply stunning. The cemetery with it's curious nooks and crannies, Gnaghi's cellar and the Buffalora Ossuary (where the bones of the dead are deposited). I really fell for the cinematic style and the grisly comedy in this movie. The well-developed sense of humor goes a long way toward eliciting the viewer's sympathy although the characters aren't very pleasant. 

Best dialogue:

''Just because we've got the new ones doesn't mean to say we have to throw the old ones away. These books are classics!'' (Francesco Dellamorte on phone books)

Arc Words:

''Will I see her again?''

Did you know:

The title Dellamorte Dellamore is a word play in Italian, della morte meaning ''of death'', and dell'amore meaning ''of love''.

Soavi's wife Barbara Cupisti - who had prominent roles in Stagefright and The Church - plays a prostitute.

American actor Mickey Knox, who went to Europe after getting blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy era, had previously appeared in Stagefright.

Actor Robert Caruso, who played an ill-fated biker in The Church, worked here as a set-decorator.

Director Martin Scorsese called Dellamorte Dellamore one of the best Italian films of the 90s.