Cemetery Man starts off with a bang: As caretaker of Buffalora Cemetery, Francesco Dellamorte is quite skilled at dispatching the recently dead. He and his simple-minded assistant, Gnaghi, take pride in their work — particularly in how they handle what Dellamorte calls “Returners”: people who return from the dead within seven days of dying (the z word is never used).
Rupert Everett plays Dellamorte as the quintessential cool cucumber: “My name is Francesco Dellamorte. Weird name, isn’t it? Francis Of Death. Saint Francis Of Death. I often thought of having it changed. André Dellamorte would be nicer, for example.” Sure, Dellamorte knows he should report the unusual phenomena of the dead coming back to life to the local authorities, but he sees it as a sort of job security. Why mess with a good thing? Of course, his good thing begins to veer irreparably off course when he falls in love with a recently widowed woman, played by the beautiful Anna Falchi; she portrays a total of three different characters, each of whom takes with her yet another piece of the damaged Dellamorte’s soul. Meanwhile, Gnaghi is involved in his own unconventional romance — namely that his girlfriend is the “returned” severed head of the mayor’s daughter.
Despite an uneven start, director Michele Soavi quickly focuses Dellamorte’s story on the business of having a life when your living involves working with the dead, although it starts to veer a bit off course again in the last couple of acts. Still, this quirky Italian movie falls firmly on the side of black humor horror rather than scary horror. The action, humor, and special effects (I lost count of all the wires visible) bring to mind such classic horror/comedies as Braindead (Dead Alive) and the Evil Dead trilogy, complete with impressively bloody makeup effects. There’s even a graveside sex scene and some gratuitous nudity thrown in for good measure.
If you’re looking for a good scary movie, Cemetery Man‘s not for you. But if you want a gory, quirky, funny take on the undead (the z word) horror movie genre, give it a look-see. Because, really, the one true inevitability in life is death — it’s inescapable. As Dellamorte himself says at one point, “I’d give my life to be dead.”