cemetery man | michele soavi | gianni romoli | rupert everett | francois hadji-lazaro | anna falchi | comedy | italy | france | germany | zombie | zombies | based on | novel | tiziano sclavi | mickey knox | fabiana formica | alessandro zamattio | dark comedy | satire
Film: Cemetery Man
Director: Michele Soavi
Writer: Gianni Romoli
Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro and Anna Falchi
This is an interesting, surreal film about a cursed cemetery where the dead don’t stay dead. This film is based off a novel written by Tiziano Sclavi. I remember first watching this film when my sister randomly rented it, because it starred Rupert Everett. I didn’t care for it back then, but after seeing it a few times with a critical eye, there is something here. I can also say that I’ve now gotten the chance to see this in the theater thanks to the Gateway Film Center for their Cult 101 series.
Synopsis: a cemetery man must kill the dead a second time when they become zombies.
As said, this is surreal. When I learned that this is based off a novel, I felt like this version leaves a lot out that is probably explained. As I said, I know when I saw this when I was younger, I didn’t get it and she probably didn’t either. It was after listening to a podcast about this film as well as it being on my list of horror films to see that I decided to revisit it the first time as an adult and then again as a best of the 1990’s horror series.
Something I found very interesting is that there is a tree that is causing the dead to come back to life. We get that image when the character who is referred to as She’s, played by Anna Falchi, husband returns from the grave. Before he can escape, we see that the tree’s roots have found their way into the casket. There is also a scene later of a zombie with roots and tree parts throughout her body. I’m also forgiving here having watched more Italian films as it falls into nightmare logic. It also factors into the end.
This also doesn’t follow its own rules and that’s where I have issues. At first it is a couple days after they’re buried before they come back. The film then has them coming back to life that night with no explanation. Our main character, Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) even points it out, but we never learn why. Zombies are good though. They are slow moving and I liked that. The problem that comes with them is that there are talking zombies. Again, there is no explanation as to why. My guess could be they’re newly dead. There are also more absurd things that happen as well.
The third act has issues for me. I got bored because I felt the film lost its way. Part of it is that it goes off the rails. I’ll be honest, it is an issue, but I still go on the ride. The ending is great though and I love how it is referenced in the very beginning if you know what to look for. It fits in line with the surreal feel as it comes full circle. That is something I can appreciate.
To not come down too hard on the film, something that is great are the effects. There are headshots that are done practically. The explosions of gore were great. I also thought the blood looked good as well as the make-up of the zombies. There are ones who are outrageous and I liked it. This is a strong part of the film in my opinion. If I’m going to give credit, it would be for the creativity here.
Something else that works is the acting. Everett does well in his odd character. He is a man who is just running the cemetery and ensuring the dead stay that way until he meets Falchi. She turns his life around as he falls in love with her, but the problem is that he is impotent. She portrays three different characters, none of them given a name. They’re all similar, but in different ways they break Everett’s heart. I’m not fully sure why, but it drives the story. It helps to define and break his character. I also thought Everett’s odd helper, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), was good. He speaks in grunts and he’s gross to watch eat, but he is an interesting character for sure. I thought the rest of the cast rounded this out well for what they needed to.
I’ll then finish this out with filmmaking. The cinematography is done beautifully and how it is presented to us is wonderful. It captures how creepy this cemetery is and showing different things drives tension. I can appreciate all that for sure. Going along with this the soundtrack is also great. The main theme of it has such an eerie vibe. It is used a few times throughout and it fits the scene. I will say that there is one song that was used here that doesn’t necessarily fit, but it also doesn’t ruin it either. Overall, I’d say this is one of the stronger aspects.
In conclusion, I didn’t care for this film the first time I saw it. It is after hearing more about it, learning more about Italian cinema and then revisiting it gives me a deeper appreciation. There are things that could be cut and then other things explained more that would help me. I also feel that I should read the novel to see if that helps me with what I think about it. This idea of a cursed cemetery where the dead don’t stay dead is great. There are inconsistencies with the logic, but that fits in line with nightmare. I love the surreal feel. The acting is good across the board. I’d also say this is well-made with cinematography, effects and soundtrack all bright spots. This won’t be for everyone. If you want a different type of zombie movie, I’d give this a go. I’d also recommend to fans of Italian cinema or of the director, Michele Soavi.
My Rating: 8 out of 10