Movie Review: Cemetery Man (1994) – Severin 4k/Blu-ray Combo

June 1, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Michele Soavi’s (1987’s StageFright, 1989’s The Church) 1994 adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi’s Gothic novel Dellamorte Dellamore concerns the misadventures of one Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett, My Best Friend’s Wedding) the caretaker of the local cemetery of the small, largely unpopulated town of Buffalora.

While you would surmise that this would be a quiet, perhaps even boring job, there’s one catch… anyone buried within it’s confines comes back to life after seven days and must be put back down and made double dead before they can enjoy eternal rest.

Helping Francesco with his daily routine is the child-like, mentally disabled Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), an incredibly sweet and helpful gentle giant who speaks only one word, “Gna” which can mean a multitude of things which only our hero can decipher.

Things go from bizarre to surreal when Francesco falls for She (Anna Falchi), the widow of a rich ol’ coot who is obsessed with the dead. Eventually she is bitten by her dead hubby and dispatched by Dellamorte, but he continues to encounter her among the living under different versions of herself.

Making things even more off-kilter, Gnaghi forms a relationship with the zombified severed head of the mayor’s daughter Valentina (Fabiana Formica), and Francesco is urged to kill the living instead of the dead by none other than the Grim Reaper itself (in an ultra-rad practical creature suit shot in daylight and firelight no less)!

Will Dellamorte be able to maintain the status quo at the local necropolis, or will he too fall victim to the cemetery’s cursed denizens?

As stated up yonder, this lil’ slice of cinematic lunacy is based on the writing of Tiziano Sclavi (adapted by screenwriter Gianni Romoli), the creator of monster-hunting comic book hero Dylan Dog (who’s look in turn was inspired by Everett… and Everett dresses similarly to Dylan in this film creating a real Ouroboros), and it is one hell of a strange journey… a journey well worth taking for lovers of psychotronic films!

Dellamorte Dellamore (or Cemetery Man as it was titled in some regions) is entirely unconcerned with reality, which enhances the dark fairy tale spell the narrative weaves, and the expert Direction of Soavi (along with stunning cinematography Mauro Marchetti) keeps things looking absolutely gorgeous, not to mention stunningly artistic with many sequences looking like they were ripped straight from horror comic book panels) while all hell breaks loose.

It’s that dichotomy that offers the film it’s unique flavor; it’s sweet and perverse, charming and off-putting and never anything less than completely mesmerizing throughout it’s one hour and 43 minute runtime, and the incredibly game cast only bolsters that fact with Everett and Hadji-Lazaro making for a fantastic comedic duo (and special mention to Hadji-Lazaro who manages to convey so much pathos and humor while simply saying “Gna” all of the F’n time).

Adding immeasurably to the film’s success are the incredible special effects created by the legendary Sergio Stivaletti (Lamberto Bava’s Demons and it’s sequel, The Church, and many more… ) that keeps things good n’ gory no matter how crazy the film’s story-line gets!

Before I hop on over to tellin’ you cats n’ creeps what special releases this 4K/Blu-ray combo from Severin has to offer, I’d be remiss not to mention how beautiful this film looks here thanks to a Director-approved 4K scan from the Cinecittà negative which boasts a crystal clear picture with dazzling color that makes the whole affair look like it was filmed yesterday!

As previously stated, this is a 2 Disc release with Disc One containing the 4K version of the film along with a subtitled, Italian language commentary track featuring Soavi and Romoli that includes a wealth of information regarding the film’s production.

Disc Two features a Blu-ray edition of the film, along with the aforementioned commentary track as well as interviews with Soavi, Everett, and Falchi, and an archival “making of” featurette.

Visually arresting, full of memorable characters, and not afraid to get it’s hands bloody, Dellamorte Dellamore is a freaky fable of a fright flick masterpiece that shouldn’t be missed for devotees of the unusual!


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