cemetery man | michele soavi | gianni romoli | rupert everett | francois hadji-lazaro | François Hadji-Lazaro | anna falchi | comedy | italy | france | germany | zombie | zombies | based on | novel | tiziano sclavi | mickey knox | fabiana formica | alessandro zamattio
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 actually 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 now seeing it a few times with a critical eye, there is definitely something here. The official synopsis is a cemetery man must kill the dead a second time when they become zombies.
As stated, this film is quite surreal. When I learned that this is based off a novel, I feel like the film 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 She’s (Anna Falchi) husband returns from the grave. Before he can escape, we see that the tree’s roots have found its way into the casket. There is also a scene later of a zombie with roots and tree parts throughout her body. The film though really doesn’t follow its own rules and that’s where I have issues with it. 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. The zombies are good though. They are slow moving and I liked that. The problem that comes with them, some of them can talk. Again, there is no explanation as to why some can and some can’t. There are also more absurd things that happen as well.
The third act of the film has issues though. I got bored, because I felt the film kind of loses its way. I ended up liking the ending and it really made the surreal feel that the film has come full circle. It does this as there is an item in the beginning to bring it together.
To not come down too hard on the film, the effects are great. There are a lot of head shots where we can see that the effects used are practical. The explosions of the head were great. I also thought the blood looked good as well as the make-up of the zombies. Some are pretty outrageous and I liked it. This is definitely a strong part of the film in my opinion.
The acting is something that I liked as well. Everett I thought 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 actually portrays three different characters, none of them given a name. They’re all similar, but in different ways they break Everett’s heart. It really 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 it is kind of gross to watch him eat, but he is an interesting character for sure. I thought the rest of the cast round the film out well for what they needed to.
This film is interesting in the editing department. The film is actually shot beautifully and how it is presented to us is wonderful. I feel that there is also a depth to the story that the film is lacking a bit. I stated earlier that the third act loses its way and I wasn’t sure if that was due to the writing or the editing of the film. I did lose interest either way until the actual ending.
Something else that I really enjoyed was the soundtrack. The main theme of it has such an eerie vibe. It is used a few times throughout the film and it really does fit the scenes in my opinion. I will say that there is one song that was used here that didn’t really fit, but it also doesn’t ruin the film either. Overall I’d say this is one of the stronger aspects.
Now with that said, I didn’t care for this film the first time I saw it. It is after hearing more about this film and then revisiting it do I have a better appreciate for it. There are some things that I left could have been cut from this film 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. I do think the idea of this cursed cemetery where the dead don’t stay dead is great. There are just some inconsistencies with the logic. I do like the surreal feel of the film. The acting was good as well as the ending of the film. I don’t know if some of my issues come from the writing or from the editing. I also thought the effects in this film were very good as well. I will warn you that this is a foreign film, coming from a joint production of Italy, France and Germany. Now the film is in English, but it just doesn’t have the traditional Hollywood narrative. I feel that this is an above average film. Each time I do check this out, it does seem to make me enjoy it more and more.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10