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Cemetery Man
Reviewed by Oct 24th, 2001

A movie with zombies, that’s not about zombies. Go figure. It’s more focused on the nature of love and the nature of death, as evidenced in the original Italian title Dellamorte Dellamore (the title “Cemetery Man” is a bit of a travesty).

The zombies fail to be horrific, since Francesco sees them as commonplace things. Which is probably the element that makes me say it’s not horror. One of the few main elements in a [zombie] horror film is that the zombies must be scary! And sure they seem to unnerve Gnaghi a bit, but Francesco disposes of them as if he was stepping on cockroaches. They don’t scare him, they’re merely a nuisance.

And horror movies are mostly based on the conflict between the humans/good guys/whatever and the zombies/axe murderers/monsters/whetever. Cemetery Man is based on Francesco’s experiences with and feelings about people and the world around him. In the beginning it seems like horror, with the zombies rising on the seventh day and all that. But once you see the way Francesco reacts to the zombies (as just part of his job, etc.) you know that they aren’t the focus of the film.

The main things I like about this movie are the claustrophic atmosphere, and the fact that it can be interpreted in an endless number of ways. Was the first woman a zombie or just unconscious when Francesco shot her? If she was only unconscious, were the other women just his mind’s way of punishing him? Why was it that no one could concieve of blaming him for his own crimes? Was he insane? Why did the dead come back? And so on.

My favorite scenes in the movie: When Gnaghi unearths the mayor’s daughter and her head floats along the ground. Somehow, I just loved the impact this scene had. The way the head can really get around on its own lends a very surreal quality to the movie. Second, the scene with Francesco in the hospital. When he talks to his “friend,” it’s a real turning point in the movie. It really changes the atmosphere and the pace. An adjacent scene, where someone says to the fleeing Francesco “You have a gun? Good.” is particulary great. The next would be the ending, but I won’t give that away.

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