So I made this horror movie challenge for myself at the beginning of the year, and I can already tell you that I’m going to fail it. Abysmally. We’ll talk about punishment come December, but for now, let’s get to reviewing one of the movies actually on the list.
Honestly? I don’t know what the hell to make of this thing.
Um. Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the caretaker for a cemetery where the dead often come back to life seven days after they’ve died. Weirdness ensues. Lots of weirdness.
1. If this hadn’t been one of the films on my Must-See Horror List, I might not have finished it. And I almost certainly wouldn’t be reviewing it because wah. Reviewing it is hard.
See, this isn’t a terrible movie, exactly — there are things to recommend — but it’s also not the kind of movie that I generally enjoy at all. Which is annoying because, you know, offbeat zombie comedy. Kinda where I live.
But Cemetery Man is almost episodic in nature with not much in the way of an actual through-line. Every time I thought maybe I could see where a central story was shaping together, another weird side plot would arise with little relevance to anything that had come before it, and while some of the weird was hilarious, a lot of the weird was just . . . too weird. There was a story somewhere in this movie that I liked, but I’d have to cut a good forty minutes of extraneous material to get to it.
2. Also, the ending makes no sense. At all. In some other movie, the ending might be kind of cool, maybe, but here . . . seriously, what the hell?
3. Some parts that I did like:
3A. Flying Zombie Heads
Shown at rest here, but trust me. She literally flies. It’s kinda awesome.
3B. Casual murders.
Hard to talk about without spoilers, but there’s a character in this film who kinda goes batshit and starts shooting pretty much everyone (s)he sees. The scene ends on an ultimately unsatisfying note — it’s yet another “. . . what?” moment — but up until that point, it’s a pretty hilarious scene.
3C. Also, just the very basic concept of the job. I like the idea of a dude who lives at a cemetery and gets paid to shoot dead things before the dead things can eat people. I mean, there are a lot of places to go with that story. Cemetery Man just tries to go to 87 of them at the same time and ultimately arrives . . . well, nowhere, in my opinion. But we’ll get there in my (very brief) Spoiler Section.
4. More positives: the visuals.
The film’s shot beautifully. There are any number of scenes that I absolutely loved, from an artistic standpoint, anyway. Whatever problems I had weren’t with cinematography.
5. Or even with dialogue. Writing, yes. Story was very much a problem for me, but so many of the quotes themselves . . . I just loved the humor here.
Almost of all the quotes, by the way, come from this guy.
To be fair, he’s got about 92% of the dialogue, though.
Dellamorte: “I’d give my life to be dead.”
Dellamorte: “At a certain point in your life, you realize you know more dead people than living.”
Dellamorte: “The living dead and the dying living are all the same. Cut from the same cloth. But disposing of dead people is a public service, whereas you’re in all sorts of trouble if you kill someone while they’re still alive. ”
Dellamorte: “My name is Francesco Dellamorte. Weird name, isn’t it? Francis Of Death. Saint Francis Of Death. I often thought of having it changed. André Dellamorte would be nicer, for example.”
Dellamorte: “Oh, come on, Gnaghi. The world’s full of girls like that, and they’ve got bodies, too.”
Civardi: “Why the barbed wire? Do they climb in at night?”
Dellamorte: “No. They climb out sometimes.”
Dellamorte: “You’re supposed to be setting a good example. Now get back in your coffin immediately.”
Marshall Straniero: “For God’s sake, wait! There’s another maniac on the loose. He’s on the 4th floor killing people. He already shot three. You got a gun! That’s good. Now you can defend yourself. Hey, take my advice and get the hell out of here quick!”
Dellamorte: “We all do what we can not to think about life.”
6. Unfortunately, there’s way too many other things that I just can’t get into. There’s no one side plot on it’s own that I can’t deal with — although the “everyone thinks Dellamorte is impotent for no apparent reason” is sort of weird, and the “I should cut off my penis so the love of my life who will only be happy with an impotent man (and who I only met yesterday) will marry me” . . . yeah, that’s awkward — but everything together is just too much.
7. And once again, this is one of those movies where the completely unbelievable romance bothers me.
Maybe this is the kind of movie where I’m not supposed to worry about stuff like that, but — no, no, it’s just doesn’t work. Okay, so Dellamorte sees a beautiful woman and falls instantly in love, and she’s not particularly interested (for decent reasons) until he shows her the ossuary. Then she’s all hot for him, cause, you know. Bone crypts are sexy. And then they’re immediately having sex on her dead husband’s grave because she figures he’d be cool with that. And . . . I’m supposed to care about these people and their supposed Love why, exactly? I know Cemetery Man is a comedy, but it would work a lot better if I liked this couple or found their feelings for each other even a tiny bit convincing, cause the pure weirdness of them isn’t actually that funny to me.
I’m creating a Spoiler Section solely to talk about the end . . . but yeah. I didn’t get it, and from what I can tell, most people who like this movie didn’t understand the end, either.
Want to see if you do?
So, Dellamorte decides to leave town with his sidekick, Gnaghi. (I haven’t talked about Gnaghi much, but here’s what you need to know: he’s mentally handicapped in some fashion, vomits on girls he’s attracted to, eats food with his hands, can only say “gna,” and has a romance with the flying zombie head. That’s Gnaghi.) They go through the tunnel to see what’s on the other side . . .
. . . and they basically hit the end of the world.
The road ends and Dellamorte slams on the breaks. Gnaghi hits his head and appears to die. Dellamorte is considering shooting him when Gnaghi wakes up. Gnaghi takes the gun and tosses it over the side of the cliff. The last lines?
Gnaghi: “Could you take me home? Please?”
. . . um.
Yes. So. I don’t know. I mean, I’m actually kind of a sucker for two friends at the end of the world stories, but . . . what the hell is it doing in this movie? Maybe they’re supposed to be in Purgatory? Maybe it’s some kind of metaphorical statement about the futility of life? Maybe they’re literally supposed to be living in Dellamorte’s snow globe and for no apparent reason have suddenly swapped bodies?
I give up. Seriously.
Some great humor and cinematography, but it doesn’t make up for the film’s inherent lack of plot and serious WTF ending.
There’s not such a difference between the living and the dead?
Or maybe . . . don’t leave town because you’ll never get anywhere? Sheesh. That’s depressing.
6 thoughts on ““Mind Your Business! I Shall Be Eaten by Whomever I Please!””
QUOTE FROM SPOILERS SECTION:
Maybe they’re literally supposed to be living in Dellamorte’s snow globe and for no apparent reason have suddenly swapped bodies?
Yep, that’s pretty much it. The ending is THAT stupid. I was surprised that so many people recommended this as one of the best zombie movies.
I also felt that the way the movie seemed to strongly imply that “all women are the same” was pretty damn misogynistic. Particularly when one of them claims to have enjoyed being raped. *yuck!*
Out of the other movies I saw on “Best Zombie Movies” lists, a happy surprise was “The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue” (sometimes known as “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”). That was REALLY good. Colour zombie movie well in advance of “Dawn Of The Dead” that does the zombie effects pretty well considering the low budget. In fact, the gore effects were apparently a big inspiration to a lot of low-budget Italian horror makers (presumably including Fulci, whose “Zombie Flesh Eaters” movie came out five years later).
I forgot (somehow) about the woman who liked being raped line, which, ugh. Yeah, that was problematic for me. I’m not sure I read the same actress playing all three women as a misogynistic commentary on all women being the same, though. I guess I thought it was more of a fated thing, or something. Like She just keeps coming back to him in different bodies. (And he just keeps killing her. That, at least, amused me. Probably because I didn’t like her no matter what body she was in.)
I’ve never seen The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, but that’s a great title. Thanks for the recommendation. Might have to check it out sometime 🙂
I think I once heard that headline in a porno.
Anyways, I haven’t seen Cemetery Man, so I can’t comment, but I’ll be curious to learn what your self-inflicted punishment will be. Perhaps a marathon of inspirational sports movies?
Good God, no. I’ll keep you in suspense about the details for now, but let me assure you: the word “marathon” will not be appearing in this self-chastisement. I’m only willing to endure so much punishment.
I saw this a long time ago and I really enjoyed it. For me the opening concept of a caretaker burying the dead and just as matter-of-factly putting them back in at night was strong enough to compensate for a lot of meandering.
It never occurred to me that the ending snowglobe was supposed to be meaningful; I just took it as the ultimate weird twist to cap a film of increasingly weird happenings.
Of course there’s misogyny – it’s an Italian film, written and directed by Italian men (as an Italian myself, I never make gross generalisations based on nationality stereotypes, except with Italians. I grew up with stuff like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIrnJzCkfJU).
By the way, the screenwriter is also the author of “cult” Italian horror comic book series Dylan Dog, unexplainably set in London, with a hunky detective specializing in supernatural and creepy mysteries, and has GROUCHO MARX as a sidekick. Yes, for realz. Check it out.