Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Cemetery Man Review
I worked at a video store for a few years and I couldn't get anyone to rent this movie. The box cover artwork wasn't the best designed box and it just smelled of straight to dvd work. This is a similar problem I had with the movie "The Church" which turned out to be quite the find, after the fact. The subject matter in this film is not really horror sometimes, as much as it is comedy, but it's a type of humor that only really dark humor fans would get, so it reaches towards horror fans more unwillingly than most other films. The movie, released in 1994 and based on an novel by Tiziano Sclavi, is not much to look at sometimes, but offers a good slice of Italian horror, as if Dario Argento made it himself. This film directed by Michele Soavi, is a welcome addition to any Italian Horror movie collection, and really provides a good overall fright and comedy balance. So today, on this cloudy Wednesday morning, take some time to enjoy with me a review of Cemetery Man!
The movie's initial plot is simple. A caretaker of a small cemetery is searching for love in all the wrong places. During one such encounter with a female in the graveyard a zombie shows up and bites his new love interest and the town starts to get invested with zombies. There is no real explanation as to why they showed up in the first place, but you don't really need that in regards to horror films, and more specifically zombie films.
Here is a trailer Trailer for Cemetery Man:
As zombies start rising throughout the film, the city is in complete denial of what is occurring, and our hero, Francesco Dellamorte, tries to save the day. However, he seems to have a knack for not saving the day after all is said and done.
Meanwhile there is a subplot concerning Francesco's friend, a somewhat dimwitted, easily fooled overweight helper. He falls in love with a lovely woman who is killed in an accident. She reanimates and still loves the fat dude, and you have this underlying comedic turn of events happening throughout the film, as the comic relief to an otherwise more serious counterpart and zombie film.
The film starts to come apart at the hinges when our hero goes on a random shooting spree in the town. After realizing what is going on, he decides to pack up and move somwhere far, away from the cemetery. However, along the way himself, his friend and his lover (the fat guys girl), nearly die in an accident after Francesco sees a light at the end of the tunnel that blinds him! This is where we end the film.
The film grain has an olive tinge to it. I'm not sure why a lot of Italian Horror has this natural tint to it, but it seems that the school of Argento has a little bit of olive to the skin tones and the overall lighting and scenes. I like that, it makes me feel like I'm not watching the traditional overtly saturated film from the U.S. While the editing is horrendous in this film, and the sound is off at times, it still has a sense of horror with the sequences of shooting people, decapitations, and random gore effects featuring eating flesh. It's not an insanely horrific gore filled romp, but it has enough horror elements to make the visuals worth paying attention to.
Is Cemetery Man Scary?: Yes & No. This is a conflicted answer for me. The movie has horror elements, but there are also deep comedic moments that are obviously meant for people to not take this movie so seriously. There are great campy moments in the film, but there is also a deep rooted horror that evolves through the message.
Consider Love for a moment. What if you loved someone so much that you chased after people that looked like them? There is a fixation that some people have in regards to celebrities and some, not everyone, becomes so overwhelmed with their looks that they chase love interests that look identical. I never really understood this until I met a guy that looked like Billy Bob Thorton. He didn't understand why people would come up to him and ask him if he was in fact Billy Bob. Eventually, he started to play that up and had a lot of love interests that solely sought him out for his looks, and after a few years, I don't know what became of him.
That wasn't the only time I knew someone that resembles another celebrity. I had a friend for many years that looked like the character "Stifler" from the American Pie series of films. He would get women all the time asking him for autographs and photos, and had he not been married he would have enjoyed the unwarranted attention.
You see, this film has that sort of obsessive love component to it, that creates a really scary thing in real life. While the intentions of the film makers might not want to admit that their film illustrates this, I think it does a good job of mirroring that effect, in terms of love and compulsion. It is illustrated by Francesco and how easily he falls in love with anyone that looks like his first love. The obsession becomes so bad that even zombies can't shake him, but this "love" he has drives him nuts.
One might argue that the focus of the film is really on "Love and Death" and while that notion is seen in this film, there are too many comedic moments to explore that sort of duality. So in regards to this movie, the scary moments rely on obsession more than anything else. It's almost as though the film is a romantic comedy with elements of zombie attacks thrown in.
Overall, Cemetery Man is a good film, but there are a lot of little points that you can make gaping holes. You can create a lot of plot holes out of thin air, based on editing, contrast, and acting in this film. There is plenty to hate if you're not an Italian Horror movie fan, but just like the Argento Films, it's really a good acquired taste in horror film. Whether you see this film as a comedic horror movie or a more satire filled story, you'll enjoy it if you're a fan of the genre. Otherwise, you might as well leave it on the store shelves just like many other people did as they walked on by to more relevant horror features.
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