Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cemetery Man

There seems to be something hard-wired into my brain that makes me get all stupidly excited whenever I see a cemetery. I want to run around and explore them all, and get chased by ghosts and monsters in them. This is what a childhood filled with horror novels and movies causes. Fortunately for me, unlike a great deal of shabby-looking horror movie graveyards, this cemetery looks really, really good, as if Argento protégé Michele Soavi were actively shooting for an updated version of the cemeteries from the old Universal horror films.

Rupert Everett stars as Francisco Dellamorte, the cemetery’s groundskeeper who is stuck with the thankless side job of re-killing his tenants after they rise from the dead. He is remarkably blasé about this situation – at one point he starts to wonder if this is happening in every cemetery or just his, then just says “who cares?” His only companion in these endeavors is Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), his retarded mute assistant. Although it starts out seeming like a fairly standard zombie movie, it soon moves into a more surreal area, to the point where we aren’t sure just how reliable the film narrative is. We see him seduce and sleep with a woman in the cemetery, and then the next day we learn that he’s impotent, which would seem to have made the earlier scene physically impossible. Further, after a conversation with Death, where the being advises him that if he doesn’t want the dead to rise, he should instead kill the living, he embarks on a murdering spree with no effort at all made in not getting caught, only to find that just about everyone but him is getting blamed for his crimes. And that ending, wow.

This is certainly not a movie that everyone is going to really get behind. It is weird and off-kilter, and leads you in one direction before shunting you off into madness and ridiculousness. It is, in short, the kind of movie that I generally love. While the 90s were largely a bit of a creative dead zone for horror films, this shows that the decade was far from a complete wash. If you have a similar taste in movies to me, you will find this film quite worthwhile. If not, then you need to develop a more refined taste.

Rating: *** ½

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