Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michele Soavi Produced by Heinz Bibo
Screenplay by Giovanni Romoli Based on Dellamorte Dellamore by
Starring Rupert Everett
Music by Manuel De Sica
Cinematography Mauro Marchetti Editing by Franco Fraticelli Studio Audifilm
Silvio Berlusconi Communications
Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l'Europe
Distributed by October Films Release date(s) March 25, 1994(Italy)
May 10, 1995 (France)
April 26, 1996 (United States)
Running time 105 minutes Country Italy
Budget USD$4 million Box office $253,969
Cemetery Man (Italian title: Dellamorte Dellamore) is a 1994 comedy horror film directed by Michele Soavi. A co-production of Italy, France, and Germany, the screenplay by Gianni Romoli was based on the 1991 novel by Tiziano Sclavi. Sclavi is also the author of the comic Dylan Dog, which covers similar themes and whose protagonist is self-admittedly a Rupert Everett lookalike.
The film stars Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, and Anna Falchi. The film's story concerns the beleaguered caretaker of a small Italian cemetery, who searches for love while defending the town from zombies.
Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the cemetery caretaker in the small Italian town of Buffalora. He lives in a ramshackle house on the premises, constantly surrounded by death, with only his mentally handicapped assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) for company, who expresses his ideas and opinions only saying "Gna". Young punks in town spread gossip that Francesco is impotent. He can open up to his only friend, Franco, by telephone, but when they meet in person, have little to say. Francesco's only hobbies are reading outdated telephone directories, in which he crosses out the names of the deceased, and trying to assemble a puzzle shaped like a human skull.
The inscription over the Buffalora Cemetery gate reads "RESVRRECTVRIS" ("THEY WILL RESURRECT" in English), and indeed, Francesco has had his hands full of late. Some of the dead interred in the cemetery rise from their graves prior to the seventh day of their internment, reanimated and ready to assault the living. Francesco, as if trapped in a Sisyphean cycle, is duty-bound as cemetery caretaker, to destroy the "Returners" before they overrun the town. Buffalora's mayor (Stefano Masciarelli) doesn't just disbelieve the cemetery caretaker's reports, but is so fixated on his campaigning that he seems unable even to hear Francesco's pleas for an investigation. Nor can Francesco surmount the complicated bureaucracy or mountain of paperwork to get assistance ("It's easier just to shoot them," says an exasperated Francesco). Accepting his fate, Francesco and Gnaghi spend their days tending the cemetery grounds, doing their best to counteract the decay of ages, and their nights planting bullets and shovels into the brains of the walking dead. "This is my business," he says before wearily dispatching a zombie motorcyclist. "They pay me for it."
At a funeral, Francesco falls hard and fast in love, with the beautiful young widow (Anna Falchi) of a rich, elderly man. While consummating their relationship atop the grave, her husband returns, attacks, and bites the unnamed woman. Francesco's new love seemingly dies from the bite; however, the coroner later says she died of fright. Fearing the worst Francesco stays near her corpse believing she will rise as a Returner. When she does, he blindly shoots her, believing his love turned to a zombie. Later, she rises again as a true Returner. At this point, Francesco comes to believe that she was not really a zombie when he first shot her, making it him that truly killed her. After that, having lost his only love and destroying her, he begins plummeting into a deeper and deeper depression. Furthermore he is visited by the leering figure of Death, who tries to recruit Francesco as a fellow reaper.
Francesco repeatedly encounters women, all played by Falchi and listed in the credits only as "She", who resemble his lost love. He goes to outrageous ends to be with them - when the object of his affection confesses to being terrified of the thought of men's penises inside her, Dellamorte visits the doctor to have his penis removed (although this does not happen, the doctor gives him an injection to temporarily be impotent) - but circumstance or fate always steals away Dellamorte's lovers. In this case, the woman he has gone great lengths to please is raped by the new mayor. She comes to find out that she enjoys sex and no longer has a phobia of men's penises. To this length she decides to marry the mayor still believing that Francesco is impotent. This is mirrored as Gnaghi becomes sweetly obsessed with the Mayor's capricious daughter Valentina (Fabiana Formica). This fixation would seem to end tragically when she is decapitated in a motorcycle accident. Instead, Gnaghi digs up her reanimated head, and an innocent romance begins.
Prodded by the twin specters of Love and Death, Francesco begins to wonder if the easiest way to stop the dead from returning might be to shoot them in the head while they are alive. His grip on reality slipping, and despair mounting, Francesco heads into town square at night with his revolver, shooting the group of young men in town who has made fun of him for years due to his rumored impotence. He later meets a third manifestation of "She" and ultimately sleeps with her. Upon finding out that she is a prostitute he kills her by setting her on fire with a room heater. She and two of her friends are killed in the fire. His friend Franco is accused of the murders after he kills his wife, child, and attempts suicide the same night by drinking a bottle of iodine. Francesco goes to visit his friend in the hospital, and after killing a nun, a nurse, and a doctor Franco tells Francesco that he doesn't know who Francesco is. When even these desperately demonstrative acts fail to change Dellamorte's situation - he cannot even get himself arrested when bluntly confessing his crimes to the police - he and Gnaghi pack up the car, and head for the Buffalora city limits. "Past this town is the rest of the world," Dellamorte muses, "What do you think the rest of the world looks like?"
However, upon exiting the last tunnel out of town, they find the road is destroyed and they cannot pass. Gnaghi is injured when Francesco slams on the brakes, and his head impacts the dashboard. Francesco gets out of the vehicle and walks to the edge of the road where it drops into a large chasm. Gnaghi gets out of the car and begins to seize and collapses to the ground seemingly dead. Francesco, realizing that the rest of the world doesn't exist and fearing that his assistant is dead, loads a gun with two bullets to finish them both off. Before he can shoot, Gnaghi wakes up and throws Francesco's gun off the cliff. He then asks Francesco to take him home, speaking clearly. Francesco replies "Gna.".
- Rupert Everett as Francesco Dellamorte
- François Hadji-Lazaro as Gnaghi
- Anna Falchi as She
- Mickey Knox as Marshall Straniero
- Fabiana Formica as Valentina Scanarotti
- Clive Riche as Dr. Verseci
- Alessandro Zamattio as Claudio
- Katja Anton as Claudio's girlfriend
- Barbara Cupisti as Magda
- Anton Alexander as Franco
- Patrizia Punzo as Claudio's mother
- Renato Doris as She's husband
The title Dellamorte Dellamore is a word play in Italian, della morte (spelled as two separate words) meaning "of death" and dell'amore (again spelled separately) meaning "of love", the whole title could also be translated as "On the Death of Love" or "About Love's Death".
The protagonist's surname is also Dellamorte and towards the end of the film we learn that his mother's maiden name was Dellamore.
The film was released in Italy to little success. United States distributor October Films changed its title to Cemetery Man and saddled the film with a campy ad campaign, finally releasing it on April 26, 1996. In the US, Cemetery Man received mostly negative critical reaction, small theatrical distribution (opening on six screens), and a frequently delayed Region 1 DVD release. The film missed popular success, grossing only $253,969 in the US, but found a stateside cult following over time, via home video. It currently holds a 64% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has a rating of 7.4 on Internet Movie Database. Renowned director Martin Scorsese called Dellamorte Dellamore one of the best Italian films of the 1990s.
Anchor Bay Entertainment released the film on R1 DVD on June 13, 2006 under the American title Cemetery Man. The release features an anamorphic widescreen transfer, a making-of featurette entitled Death Is Beautiful, a theatrical trailer, and an 8-page collector's booklet. However, this DVD is currently out of print.
In January 2011, Fangoria reported that director Michele Soavi was planning a sequel to his 1994 film. Soavi plans to shoot the film sometime near the end of 2011 or early 2012. He will produce the film himself and wants the film to be a great, strong, shocking Italian horror film.
- ^ Holden, Stephen, "Zombie-Bashing and Necrophilia", New York Times, April 26, 1996.
- ^ Stephens, Bob, "Jokes and Gore a Bad Mix in Cemetery Man, San Francisco Examiner, May 10, 1996.
- ^ "Michele Soavi - Filmography", New York Times, undated
- ^ Cemetery Man page on Anchor Bay's website
- ^ http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3260%3Amichele-soavi-plans-dellamorte-sequel-and-more&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=167
- Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) at the Internet Movie Database
- Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) at AllRovi
- Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) at Rotten Tomatoes
As Director As Assistant Director
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