Jarv’s Schlock Vault Toadkillerdog recommends number 2: Cemetery Man
“You’re supposed to be setting a good example. Now will you get back to your coffin immediately!”
This is an odd one. Frankly. Toadkillerdog is one for one on the recommendation front so far, with Massacre at Central High proving to be a highly watchable slice of exploitation. However, this time round, he’s sent me off to delve in Italian Horror, which I’ve had very little luck in. Furthermore, Michele Soavi’s Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man to you and me) has recently been released in the UK by Shameless, purveyors of crap. If there’s one DVD imprint that I’ve with almost no luck with, then that would be Shameless. The omens, frankly, aren’t good for this one, and I’m a little bit scared. Not that the film will be frightening, because Shameless films are never actually frightening, but there’s a high chance that it will be disturbing, minging, and feature enough gigantic Italian bush to hide the rabbit population from Night of the Lepus in.
Contains metaphysics and shit and spoilers.
Actually, it’s not that bad, and ranks as a really pleasant surprise. Phew. I suppose, through sheer numbers, that Shameless had to hit an actually good film eventually, and TKD’s sense of smell hasn’t led me astray with this one. In fact, in many circles on the internets, Cemetery Man is hailed as being a lost minor classic, a film that has slipped through the net and deserves rehabilitation. While I wouldn’t go that far, and I really would not even consider going that far, there’s plenty to talk about and plenty to ponder here. Not to mention that the film throws in gratuitous nudity and zombie boy scouts for shits and giggles to stop us getting bored.
Francesco (Rupert Everett)is the local cemetery custodian. However, being the gravekeeper in this small Italian town has a significant downside to it- you have to wait a week and then execute any of your recent interred corpses that come back, or as Francesco calls them “returners”. His only friend is fat, incoherent Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), a severely mentally handicapped grave digger who is incapable of saying more than “nyah”. Actually, Gnaghi is fucking hilarious, and reason in himself to watch the film. One day, Francesco buries an old git and falls head over heels with the grieving widow “She” (played three times in the film by Anna Falchi). After a nice romantic stroll through the ossuary, she jumps his, er, bones. Doing the nasty on the freshly dug grave of her husband is clearly not a good idea, and no sooner are they pounding away (NSFW picture here, and I really do mean NSFW), than ex-hubby comes back from the grave and has a chomp. She then dies, and a grief-stricken Francesco shoots her on return, but then she comes back again, so he shoots her again leading him to think that he killed her in the first place. Things go completely tits up with a local road accident stuffing the cemetery, including with Gnaghi’s dream woman, Valentina (Fabiana Formica). OK, where was I…
Right, in the meantime, Francesco meets She again, but she’s apparently terrified of erections. She forms a bond with Francesco because he’s renowned locally for not being able to get it up. Convinced that he’s in love with her, he pops down to the doctors and asks for his penis to be cut off. Luckily, the doctor isn’t up for this, and instead injects him in the nuts rendering him temporarily impotent, so hopefully he can make a more informed decision in future. Unfortunately for him, She is raped by the local mayor, which causes her (in a plot development of quite startling misogyny) to discover that she really does love the cock, and therefore prince floppy dick over there isn’t an ideal suitor any more. Gnaghi, on the other hand, is having much more luck, having exhumed Valentina’s head and keeping it in the TV that Francesco accidentally trashed when dealing with a horde of zombie boy scouts.
Still with me? Right, Francesco is less than chuffed at this turn of events, so goes in to town and executes a load of the people that took the piss out of his legendarily non-working wanger. In the meantime, he’s suffering from hallucinations having conversations with Love and Death in the Cemetary, while Gnaghi is getting on gangbusters with the severed head. Unfortunately, the severed head develops the ability to fly, and chews her father when he comes to visit the cemetery forcing Francisco to shoot her. As if that’s not odd enough, on his way back in to town he meets his third manifestation of She, and wastes no time in taking her to bed. Unfortunately, She’s a hooker this time, so he’s compelled to kill her.
The local police are somewhat useless, and arrest his only outside source of contact, Franco, for the crime, as for some reason that is lost on me Franco confessed. Francesco decides that he really should see his friend, except sanity is a very distant place now, so he uses the opportunity to murder a nun, a doctor and a nurse (in the most hilariously nonchalant way that I’ve seen in a while). Franco tells him that he’s never heard of Francesco, which is clearly good for the poor lad’s fractured sanity. Attempting to confess to the police, he’s astounded when they still won’t believe him, and so decides enough is enough, and fucks off in his car with Gnaghi. Escaping from town, he passes the city limits when the road ends suddenly at a ravine. Slamming the breaks on, he concusses Gnaghi, and after a brief exchange the film ends with the two of them as figures in a snowdome.
I’ve tried to distill this plot into a vaguely coherent form. I have, I have to admit, failed, because it’s impossible. I mean for heaven’s sake, we’ve got freakish “Nyah” saying cretins, recurring nuddy women, a psychotic grave keeper, flying heads, zombie boy scouts, and an ending straight from the Italian nutter’s guide to metaphysical theory. So, I’ve failed to make this remotely coherent, and frankly I just don’t care, because it doesn’t matter as Cemetery Man is a hilariously entertaining film. Everett is playing tortured romantic, or at least I think he is, but he’s really meandering through the events of the film shooting random people with a bemused look on his face. Falchi is hot, and takes every opportunity to shed clothing, and Formica is mildly amusing as the head. Nevertheless, Hadji-Lazaro as Gnaghi makes the film. He’s an absolute comic genius, with spontaneous vomit, banana on pasta, silly, dopey expressions of love and a hilarious and deeply bizarre “nyah” catchphrase. Every moment Gnaghi is on screen is a treat and I would recommend the film on the strength of his turn alone.
I’m going to take a stab at the meaning of this film. I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I’ve got a horrible feeling that there’s a vein of symbolism here, and Saovi wants us to solve the puzzle. Don’t laugh, but this is what I think is going on here between the rampant confusion. Well, do laugh, because I’m making a bit of a tit of myself even attempting this, but bear in mind that it’s almost impossible to decipher. I’ll lay it out straight: Francesco is dead and in purgatory and She is the Devil.
Basically, it works like this: there’s a shit load of catholic imagery laced through the film, and I mean a shit load, and it’s not particularly subtle. The cemetery itself is called “They will Resurrect” (thank you Wiki), and he spends much of his time trying to decipher a puzzle in the shape of a skull. He’s clearly trapped in purgatory until he can realise that he’s dead, whereupon he will, like the returnees, move on. Every time “she” appears, Francesco becomes distracted, and slips a bit further back in his quest for knowledge. His final act, standing on the edge of the cliff while the camera pans back is clearly stating that he’s frozen in time, trapped in this place until he can solve the puzzle.
Of course, I could be talking out of my arse, and he’s just a flaming nutter with a reputation for impotence, but looking at the film and the imagery that is stuffed through it, I find it very hard to believe that this is the case. Nevertheless, bullshit theories aside, this is a fabulously entertaining film, being rammed full of tits, zombies, violence and comedy and I find it a little bit surprising that it slipped out of sight- it does indeed deserve better.
Overall, this one’s a blast. Confusing it may be and is, but that doesn’t really matter, because I’m talking about a film where a retard who can only communicate by saying “nyah” keeps a talking disembodied head in the television while his psychotic boss runs around shagging the same woman in three incarnations and shooting zombie boy scouts. So, yes I’m recommending this one. Dig it out, and if anyone else has any outlandish theories as to what the hell is going on, please do feel free to share them with the class.
TKD is 2 from 2 so far, an astonishing achievement, unless the devious canine is trying to lull me into a false sense of security before springing something rancid on me.
Until next time,
About JarvWorkshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.
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