Cemetery Man

on April 26, 1996 by Kim Williamson
   This odd story of friendship and romance the former between a cemetery overseer, Francesco Dellamorte ("The Madness of King George's" Rupert Everett) and an inarticulate gravedigger named Noggi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), and the latter between the overseer and three incarnations of the woman of his dreams (Anna Falchi)--was the most sparsely attended screening at this past November's ShowEast. But it was, next to "The City of Lost Children," the most artistically successful. A macabre blend of elements that separately would be at home in "Rain Man," "Love Story," "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dracula," "Cemetery Man" details the graveyard duo's bloody and occasionally sexual interactions with the recently deceased in a small Italian town, where those recently deceased due to a strange post-mortem epidemic become the newly revived and can only be dispatched back to their eternal rest by blowing, cleaving or otherwise gerunding their heads open.
   Meanwhile, the intelligent Francesco is stuck in a (literally) dead-end job. Yet he stays, partly out of brotherly affection for his grotesque aide-de-camp with a passion for dead leaves and partly out of his general disregard for anything else out in the world. Almost divine intercession arrives in the lovely form of a dead old man's mistress, who meets an untimely end, and her doppelgangers, with whom Francesco pursues his unrequited love. Ultimately, Francesco and Noggi find themselves leaving behind the unhallowed soil they've tended only to discover that no hallowed soil--or any soil--awaits them; like some floating blue-lights effects that grace filmmaker Michele Soavi's nighttime grave scenes, the visuals at this climax nicely capture the movie's feel of deeper, unrealized existence being revealed and also effectively ground the film's miasmic sensibility. Soavi has crafted a black comedy, but it's all no joke.    Starring Rupert Everett, Francois Hadji-Lazaro and Anna Falchi. Directed by Michele Soavi. Written by Gianni Romoli. Produced by Tilde Corsi, Gianni Romoli and Michele Soavi. An October release. Horror/comedy. Rated R for macabre violence and gore, strong sexuality and some language. Running time: 100 min.
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