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John’s Horror Corner: Cemetery Man (1994; aka Dellamorte Dellamore), a zany Italian alternative zombie movie, and a horror comedy, and a horror love story.

August 5, 2021

MY CALL:  This film is a cult classic that plays out well and even yields an earned and satisfying ending. Even though the comedy is overt, it is very dark. I enjoy it still.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Cemetery Man: For more horror love stories, try The Bride (1985), Meridian (1990), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993), Let the Right One In (2008), Crimson Peak (2015) or The Shape of Water (2017).

With a brand of humor most closely resembling a toned-down Evil Dead 2 (1987) or Dead-Alive (1992), we open this dark horror comedy as Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) somewhat humorously executes a man who has risen from his grave in the neighboring cemetery. Well before The Walking Dead (2010-2021) coined such terms as walkers, biters, geeks and the like, Francesco referred to his risers from the grave as “returners,” and that’s what they did exactly seven days after their burial in his cemetery. Francesco is charged with keeping them in their resting place… so… killing them again.

Like Romero’s zombie folklore, these undead are dispatched by significant head trauma and Francesco wonders if this isn’t the beginning of an epidemic reaching far beyond the gates of his graveyard. But when a beautiful young woman (Anna Falchi) grieving for her lost husband falls for Francesco, succumbs to a zombie bite and dies, Francesco’s life takes a yet stranger turn.

The zombie effects are quite passable, and the gore is impressive when it’s called upon. I was overjoyed when a school bus of kids rose as zombies to have huge gaping holes blown in their heads. Huge gaping headwounds and massive injuries abound in this film.

The comedy is overt even if very dark. Francesco’s assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro; Brotherhood of the Wolf) removes the head of a cadaver and forms a relationship with it. The sex scene nudity was rather extensive and provided a long one-scene callback to Mathilda May strutting around in the buff in Lifeforce (1985).

Director Michele Soavi (The Sect, The Church) somehow never moved on to do much more. Not sure why. This film is a cult classic that plays out well and even yields an earned and satisfying ending! I enjoy it still.

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