Cemetery Man (Italy 1993)

Rating: ****
Alternate Title: Dellamorte Dellamore (Italian Title)
Review Date: 4/20/00
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi

This quirky and offbeat Italian zombie film caught me completely off guard. Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is a disenchanted cemetery watchman who has been witnessing a bizarre epidemic of corpses rising from their graves within a week of being buried. He calls them "returners" and learns that they can be "killed" by receiving severe head trauma, so his nightly rounds often include reburying corpses after shooting them in the head. His life suddenly turns around one day when he sees voluptuous Anna Falchi at the cemetery, and he becomes completely infatuated with her. Despite his pathetic and awkward advances, she eventually decides to make love with him on her former lover's grave, awakening the zombie lying below. After being bitten by the rotting corpse of her dead lover, she dies of fright - or does she? Stricken with grief, Francesco decides to put a bullet in her brain to ensure that she doesn't return from the grave, but his troubles are only now beginning. Francesco's grip on reality as well as his own sanity seems to slip further away as the movie progresses, highlighted with darkly humorous moments of philosophy and mass murder.

The story is excellent and the characters are wonderful. Rupert Everett does a fantastic job with his tormented character and it's all too easy to sympathize with his journey into madness and/or enlightenment. While many of the special effects are laughably tacky, most of the gore and makeup effects are excellent and bullet hits are nice and juicy. The cinematography is also outstanding, and the entire film is a treat for the eyes. It certainly favors the bizarre and feels a lot like Peter Jackson's "Braindead" (1992) in style and execution. Many of the plot points are confusing, contradictory, or just downright strange, but the film never fails to be engaging. Definitely worth checking out, if for nothing else just to see Anna Falchi in a pair of Levi's 501 jeans. Whoa...