Comfortable and Furious

Cemetary Man

1 hour 39 minutes, NR

Tagline: Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!

TL, DR: Gravediggers have to kill zombies as a regular part of their work duties, and also find a reason for living while in the midst of death.

Is this film worth my time? It’s fun to see the Italian take on the zombie movie as a comedy, and the mood sets this film apart from every other film in the sub-genre.

Who is this film perfect for? For those who enjoy horror comedy, especially zombie comedy (zom-com), this film is a good second part in a marathon (especially if you go Return of the Living Dead/Cemetery Man/ Shaun of the Dead. It’s the perfect film for somebody who likes Italian giallo, comedies, and zombies.

Who will not like this film? People who don’t like gore, titties, and a healthy dose of European existential angst. Those looking for Left for Dead level corpse-killing action will also find this film underwhelming. 

Tell Me More: Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is a jaded working stiff, for whom shooting the walking dead has become a boring routine. For him, gunning down a flesh-eating ghoul barely merits a pause in his telephone conversation. In the town of Buffalore, the gravediggers are also paid for taking the trouble to prevent zombies from roaming beyond the cemetery gate. The cemetery suits his misanthropy- he barely has to deal with anyone except for his monosyllabic co-worker, the hunchback Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro). However, things began to change when he falls for a young widow (the breath takingly gorgeous Anna Falchi)

How does this film compare to others like it? The comedy of Cemetery Man is a mix of burlesque, satire, and deadpan cynicism. It’s less gory than Dead Alive, more raunchy than Return of the Living Dead.

Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and Zombieland, the major American zom-coms, are all focused upon the characters interactions with consumerism. The human protagonists are still engaged within a fantasy of consumer indulgence (playing in the mall, running the amusement park) within a larger setting of truly mindless consumers. The theme of the plot arcs in these films is about learning to embrace co-operation over individualism.

Shaun of the Dead is focused upon the difference between activity and passivity. The characters that live are the ones who are able to transcend the patterns of their habits and routines, while the lazy ones all become zombies. The plot arc is focused upon achieving personal growth and parting with older connections.

Cemetery Man, by contrast, is a film about accepting the inevitability of death and embracing the transitivity of the living. Much of the comedy of Cemetery Man derives from how blast everyone is towards the fact that the dead regularly re-animate to consume the living. Instead of mass panic and depopulation, the characters just go about their daily lives while swatting away the occasional brain-eater. The theme of Cemetery Man’s plot arc is about learning to appreciate the people who are around you. Dellamorte’s growth is a growth of empathy for other human beings.

What works in this film? The beauty of the Giallo cinematography makes this one the most beautiful of all zombie films. Soavi gives a lot of time to beautiful shots- elaborate Catholic funerals, the reflection of a full moon in a graveyard fountain. Cemetery Man is brimming with style.

Also, it’ the most romantic of all zombie films. Cemetery Man really homes in on the link between the erotic and the thanatic, where lovers make out beneath the light of will -of-wisps. It’s probably the best film in terms of doubling as a date movie and a zombie movie.

What fails in this film? It’s an episodic picaresque. Certainly, the matters escalate, but it’s a lot more of a slow burn than most other zombie films. There’s never any urgency or desperation. This film could have actually ended perfectly at the 65-minute mark.

What is the legacy of this film? Cemetery Man has remained solidly a cult film in the passing years. Dead Alive has been bolstered by Peter Jackson’s subsequent career. Sadly, it also came as one of the very last of the Giallo films. There really hasn’t been another comedy that’s had the same tone of gothic camp and gallows humor.

Best Novelty Death: Claudio, the towns’ teenage heartthrob, crashes his motorcycle into a bus. His corpse is fused to his bike… and so, we get the fastest zombie of all. Eat his dust, 28 Days Later rage zombies!

Best One Liner: “Mr. Mayor, you’re supposed to be setting a good example. Now get back to your coffin immediately!”

Lessons on How Not to Die: Don’t make love on top of your husbands’ tomb. Obey posted speed limits and other rules of the road. Work on active listening- your survival may depend upon your ability to pay attention to the concerns of the living.



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