Posted: 2/11/01

Cemetery Man (1994)
by Del Harvey

It's like Sam Raimi doing an impersonation of Dario Argento from a Charles Addams script.

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Most actors have some work experience from their past they regret. A nude scene, a bad indie film, a silly commercial, something that would make Harrison Ford seem something less than the man he is, or Michelle Pfeiffer not quite the untouchable beauty she is. If Cemetery Man is Rupert Everett's worst atrocity (before that silly flick he did with Madonna, anyway), then he's got nothing to be ashamed of.

An Italian horror film originally titled Dellamorte Dellamore, Cemetery Man is like Sam Raimi doing his best Dario Argento impersonation; the dark humor running throughout this film is Charles Addams at his most ghoulishly funny.

A slacker writer takes a job as the caretaker of the town cemetery, an opportunity requiring little work and offering lots of time. Of course, Everett is true to his slacker nature and cannot seem to bring himself to focus on his writing, especially when strange things seem to be going on at the cemetery. For instance, the dead just don't seem to want to stay dead. This little problem seems easily resolved by lodging a bullet or a knife in their head, or by beheading them with a shovel or similar sharp object.

Before long Everett and his dull-witted assistant Ghnagi (played by European rocker François Hadji-Lazaro) find themselves re-burying their charges on a nightly basis. This activity is increasing at an alarming rate, yet the two seem quite capable of existing on little or no sleep.

As if things were not already strange enough, a beautiful young woman in mourning appears at the cemetery (the breathtaking Anna Falchi). The mysterious girl easily captures Everett's attention and soon it's hot and lusty in the graveyard.

Not long after, the assistant has a surprise - he's fallen in love with the head of one of their charges. He keeps her in her own, personal shrine in his basement room. She appears quite alive and talkative and, like all the other zombies arising from their graves, has a desire for the flesh. Not to touch, but to eat.

This allegory takes on several other classic themes, with the psychological mystery revealed nicely by the final frame. Along the way there are plenty of oddly humorous and dark scenes to amuse most tastes. Cemetery Man is so absurd you cannot help laughing. Directed by Michele Soavi, a protégé of Italian psychological goremeister Dario Argento, Cemetery Man is a new classic of horror.

Way to go, Rupert!

Del Harvey, founder of FM, lives in Chicago. He is a veteran of The Directors Guild Of America, The Walt Disney Company, and Lucasfilm.

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