Tuesday, May 10, 2011


CEMETERY MAN is a fantasy/horror/black comedy that tells the story of Francesco Dellamorte and his troubles running a cemetery and dealing with life.  Also there are zombies.  This is a strange film indeed.  While I don't like to view films as metaphors on anything one can't help but notice how clever a metaphor on life CEMETERY MAN is.  Oddly enough its a metaphor on my life.  The troubles he has in finding love and making positive change in life mirrors a lot of what I have been through in the past.  I think many of us can relate to Francesco and his problems.  Well maybe not his zombie problems unless you live near an old folks home.

First off it's important to note that while zombies are prevalent throughout this film, CEMETERY MAN is not about zombies.  The movie doesn't explain why they rise from the dead after seven days or how.  There is no time spent trying to stop the zombies from taking over the world.  The cast of the film isn't boarded up in a house fighting zombies and getting their faces eaten off one by one.  No, CEMETERY MAN is about love.  Now before you go off and dismiss this film as pretentious art house bull-hockey let me just say that CEMETERY MAN follows zombie film rule #1.  Kill lots of zombies.  It does do that so don't get too uptight, gorehounds.  They are the "gotta shoot'em in the head" kind of zombies too.  My favorite.

Francesco Dellamorte is a good enough guy.  Just because his last name means death doesn't mean he is bad.  Maybe he is a little boring.  There isn't much to do when you live in a cemetery.  He keeps things as tidy as possible with the help of his sidekick Gnaghi (that's how they spell it on IMDB) who is somewhat of a dimwit (but not really).  When he isn't reading the phone book Francesco likes to keep the town safe from the undead that rise from the grave.  He has one friend he talks to over the phone and a little old lady that visits the cemetery every day.  But Francesco has a passion for love.  He is a romantic that just happens to be a nice guy.  So that is two strikes against him.  Romantic and nice.  Two things that are not appreciated by the woman folk nowadays.  Believe me I know.

Now if you are a douche bag that gets the ladies, gets the fast cars and refers to himself as "the Situation" then you probably won't like CEMETERY MAN.  This movie isn't for you.  No, this movie is for those of us who have loved deeply and would do anything for the one we love only to have reality smack us down and stomp on our faces until we have become cold and bitter people.  Francesco Dellamorte is a man who falls in love three times.  Every single time love falls apart or isn't exactly what it seemed.  Each woman is a different character but played by the same woman.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's because this film is pretentious art house bull-hockey.  Francesco is the kind of guy that would do anything for love.  The second girl that falls in love with him does so because she thinks he has no dick.  That's the rumor that the towns people started.  She is afraid of sex.  So Francesco tries to get a doctor to cut his "you know what" off.  At this point I in no way can relate to Francesco Dellamorte.  A man has to know his limitations (MAGNUM FORCE) and getting my "Johnson" cut off is mine.  What this shows though is how much he loves this woman.  He would give up sex for her.  The doctor is too squeamish and doesn't cut it off.  Later she comes back to break up with Francesco because (and get this) her boss raped her and now she is in love with him.  Kind of sick if you ask me.  Francesco definitely dodged a bullet there.  Next time maybe he won't be so melodramatic.

Francesco is a man caught in the middle.  He can neither go up nor down.  He is stuck tending to the dead.  When love no longer works he resorts to violence and goes around shooting people in the head because apparently the Grim Reaper told him to.  Basically Francesco is trying his best to destroy his life and escape his dead end job.  Expecting to be thrown in jail, Francesco discovers that his only friend that he talks to on the phone took the blame for the murders after murdering his own family.  With no other options Francesco leaves town with his sidekick Gnaghi (Seriously, folks. That's how they spell it IMDB).  They drive as far as they can until they reach the abyss.  There is nothing out there. There is no world to explore,  no other life to live but the one he is living right now.  For a lot of us that is so true.  We are stuck in our dead end jobs forced to do the same thing over and over again with little hope of finding something better until we die.  This is definitely a "the glass is half empty" kind of movie.

CEMETERY MAN is an early 90's film.  It was made right before everything became CGI cartoons.  The special effects are practical and amazing.  The director, Michele Soavi, has a great eye for detail.  His shots are beautifully framed turning a cemetery into a macabre wonderland of stone angels and tombstones.   The whole damn movie looks like a dream.  CEMETERY MAN is a movie no one has ever made before.  It's totally original.  The horror, the fantasy and the comedy blend together nicely to form a unique tone to the film.  Its a little dark at times but not too dark.  The fantasy element keeps the bloody violence from dominating the tone.  Its ugly but its also funny.  You don't take it seriously.  It's okay to laugh when that nun gets shot in the face. 

I would dare say that this is the second best zombie film ever made.  Only the original DAWN OF THE DEAD is better in my eyes but barely.  CEMETERY MAN is a fun watch.  It is one of those films that can open your mind to what can be done in a movie.  It forces you to think outside the box.  Not every zombie movie has to be about the zombies and how to deal with them or how to go from point "A" to point "B" through hordes of flesh eaters.  The zombies are a bonus.  There are different ways to interpret this film.  I have no idea what the meaning is behind most of the stuff that happens in this movie.  The ending especially is a little head scratching but its one of the best endings ever to a film.  I just happen to see a lot of myself in this film (not the homicidal parts of course).  Maybe you do too.  Hopefully you don't.  Check it out and see for yourself.  Love is not certain, death is.


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