Dellamorte Dellamore / Cemetery Man (1994)
Francesco Dellamorte is the caretaker of a creepy Italian cemetery where the dead rise from their graves seven days after burial. It's then up to him and his assistant Gnaghi to kill them for the second time (by splitting their heads open). The town authorities aren't interested in the zombie problem, so life continues this way until Dellamorte falls in love with a recently widowed woman whose husband is buried in the graveyard.
The most striking thing about this film is the visuals. The cinematography, lighting and set design are striking and beautiful. There are some interesting set-pieces, and film studies undergraduates will have an absolute field day trying to decipher all the references and visual metaphors the movie tries to convince us it contains.
To be honest, I was less interested in all that because, by the 45 minute point, I was already finding it hard to resist checking my phone for emails and tweets. The first section had got my attention - introducing us to the intriguing living dead scenario and the characters of Dellamorte and Gnaghi. But then the main focus shifts to the 'romance' between Dellamorte and the woman, which I was not the least bit interested in. Some of the 'rules' set up early in the film started to get muddled too. Zombies come back seven days after burial. But then it doesn't have to be seven days. Zombies come back once - when are finally terminated by a strike to the head. Then one comes back several times, each time as a different person who doesn't look at all undead. This may have made sense if I'd thought about it more. Or rather, if I was interested enough to think about it more.
Rupert Everett looks great in the role - particularly when wet and shirtless, or naked and sweaty. And I'm not going to complain about that. But his delivery of lines seemed stilted and awkward. I was constantly aware that I was watching an actor in a film, rather than following a character in a story. A scene where a woman talks about being raped and enjoying it, seemed ill-judged and off-putting. And despite being listed as a "comedy", the humour on the most part simply didn't really work for me.
The final reel cranked up the surreal, dream-like imagery and added some confusing 'twists' (and more student discussion potential). Yes it all looked great, admittedly. But I have no idea what was going on. I had already stopped caring about an hour beforehand.
I get the feeling the director was trying really, really hard to make this film interesting, quirky, surreal, and memorable. Throw in some gory horror, pseudo-arthouse imagery, hit-and-miss comedy and a posh English actor who looks good with his shirt off, and what do you get? Well, a bit of a badly-paced mess, it seems. Watch the trailer though. The trailer is amazing. It's only a minute long, and it contains most of the good stuff. But I wouldn't rush out and buy the DVD.