Cemetery Man (1994) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes in yellow

DellaMorte DellAmore, or Cemetery Man (1994) is a very dark comedy told in the gore/horror genre. Rupert Everett plays Francesco Dellamorte, who woks in a cemetery, and, among his other duties, must kill the dead again seven days after they are buried, when they arise as zombies. His favorite weapon is a gun, but he will use anything handy to destroy their skulls. His casual manner while doing this provides many of the laughs. In act one, he falls for a young widow, Anna Falchi. When she is killed by a zombie, he is even willing to be with her when she comes back, but she takes a big bite out of his shoulder. He starts killing living people, but someone else takes credit for his crimes. Meanwhile, his sidekick, a hunchback midget mute, has an affair with the zombie head of the mayor's daughter.

The film sort of overstays its welcome, and the last 20 minutes or so don't offer much, but it is a good effort. I very much liked James Berardinelli's summary in awarding 2 1/2 stars, "Cemetery Man could have been better, but it more easily could have been a lot worse. The best thing I can say abut Michele Soavi's film is that it elicited more laughter from me than about 90% of Hollywood's bland comedies. And it's refreshing to see, if only for one film, a stylish tastelessness that swims against the prevailing tide of political correctness."  

Not currently available on Region 1 DVD. The DVD is in PAL format, Region Two, and can be ordered from an American distributor here.
  • widescreen, letterboxed


Anna Falchi shows her breasts several times.

Rupert Everett shows his bum.

Scoop's notes in white

A couple of years ago, this film was the best answer to a late night barroom discussion topic: "what is the funniest zombie movie ever made?" Some other knowledgeable film buffs might have argued for Dan O'Bannon's "The Return of the Living Dead," but I assume the bar would finally have arrived on this one as its consensus choice.

That was then. Now, of course, the issue is open to further discussion, and I'm pretty sure that the roundtable would drop this film to second in favor of  Shaun of the Dead. I'd have to concede that Dellamorte Dellamore is neither as clever nor as good as Shaun, but it is a fun movie, and a pretty good one as well, although it enjoys the rare distinction of having excellent reviews (63% at Rotten Tomatoes) and a high IMDB score (7.5 with thousands of votes) at the same time that it is also covered by various "worst of all time" web sites like Badmovies.org and Stomp Tokyo.

It is an Italian movie which takes place in Italy, but is in English and stars the suave, handsome British actor Rupert Everett, the guy who wants to be the first gay James Bond. The title literally means "Of Death, Of Love," which carries several possible meanings, most of which will be obvious once I start to tell you what it is about, assuming I ever do get to that point and past my usual digressions. The one sense which is not obvious is that Francesco Dellamorte is also the name of the gravekeeper (the titular Cemetery Man) played by Everett. Ol' Rupe is really not that happy with the fact that he's a gravekeeper named Frank of the Dead, and has always wanted to change his name - to Andy of the Dead.

That will give you an idea of the sense of humor at work in this script.

What, not Shaun?

Frank of the Dead tends the cemetery in Buffalora, a town in Northern Italy, and that's an unexciting position for the most part, except that Dellamorte has one very unusual responsibility. In his territory, the dead always come back to life after seven days, so Frank's real job is to re-kill them by splitting their heads open, thus sending them to their more permanent reward. It certainly seems that it would be more efficient to pulverize their skulls when they are buried the first time, but no such rationale is ever offered.

Things are going along fairly well for Frank until he falls in love with a beautiful widow and decides to have sex with her on her husband's grave. The husband finds this quite offensive, assumes zombiehood, and attacks his unfaithful wife. Frank is able to dispose of him only after the jealous zombie has bitten and killed the sexy widow. (Anna Falchi, she of the mammoth areolae.) Of course, death is only a temporary condition in Buffalora, so Frank waits out the seven days until his beloved returns as a zombie. No, it's not what you're thinking. He kills her so that she can achieve eternal rest. Meanwhile, Frank's assistant, the usual mute and retarded-lookin' gravedigger, falls in love with the mayor's daughter, who promptly dies. Rather than facing the whole cycle of reincarnation and skull-splitting, the mute guy simply cuts off her head, waits seven days, and continues to pursue the relationship with her disembodied head. They have quiet nights at home while he plays some music and she sings.

Up to and including that point it was a weird but still fairly tight and economical little script which stayed reasonably well within its own eccentric rules, but the rest of the film is out there in Salvador Dali land. Frank keeps running into women who look exactly like his beautiful twice-killed widow, strange spirits keep floating through the air, Frank goes on a killing spree and gets jealous when others are blamed for his crimes, and finally ... well, there is an explanation for the strange goings-on, but it's one of those M. Night Shyamalan or Rod Serling surprise endings, and it doesn't really satisfy. Since the film is already about resurrection, it really could have used Graham Chapman to come back from the dead in his military uniform and declare the whole thing "too silly."

If it sounds kind cool to you, you will be extremely impressed by the ingenious gothic cinematography and the bizarre sets. This film may have the general attitude of Shaun of the Dead, but the cemetery scenes have the look of Phantom of the Opera, as filtered through the mind of Orson Welles. The scriptwriter played up the laughs, but the cinematographer handled the project with a certain operatic elegance. It's an odd combination, and an odd movie in general. I can't even make up my mind whether I enjoyed it, but I was certainly impressed with its originality.

The Critics Vote

  • Berardinelli 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: domestic gross $250,000
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. If you like comedy/horror, you will like this one.

Return to the Movie House home page