Cemetery Man – A fabulous oddity

Mostly comedy, partially horror, a little romance, and a dash of soft-core pornography; I truly have never seen a film quite like Dellamorte Dellamore (1994), or as it’s more widely known in North America, Cemetary Man. Odds are you haven’t heard of Cemetery Man.

The only reason I did was because it appeared on my ‘movies to watch list’ seemingly out of nowhere. So what is this bizarre film about, and why do other unorthodox films like it fall into obscurity?

Cemetery Man is about a groundskeeper at a cemetery who kills the dead that tend to reanimate after death, for unexplained reasons. Things happening without explanation is a running theme throughout the film; there are random character motivations, alien concepts, and strange sequences.

The film has a mind of its own, doing as it pleases to create meaning, regardless of sensibility. This isn’t to say that the film has no structure, just that it’s a loose structure. In addition to the amalgam of genres this film encapsulates, none is better represented than the art film genre. While it has the stereotypical art film concepts like sex, death, unrealistic logic and a willingness not to censor itself; the film still accomplishes the magnificent feat of not feeling pretentious despite its artisiticness. 

The lack of self-imposed limitations in Cemetery Man, shows that this film does not care if the viewer is confused. It also doesn’t care about presenting offensive subject matter. The film is largely about sex.

It’s not surprising to have some risqué themes, but some of the lines it crosses are a step too far by my standards. I can’t shake the feeling that much like some other obscure films, its main intention is to shock its audience.

While perhaps not as shocking as the works of a young John Waters, there are still many moments throughout the film that will leave your jaw on the floor. Some of these shocking moments are lovely but others are in poor taste, which I take issue with.

The strangeness of the film allows it to have some very unconventional comedy. With such an obscure premise, I’m sure many would correctly guess dark comedy, but it’s more than that.

There are gags in this film that no other piece of media could accomplish. I was laughing constantly sometimes due to well-crafted jokes and other times due to sheer befuddlement. Cemetery Man has everything from reincarnation, serial killing, a relationship with a decapitated head, a woman turned on by ossuaries, a cemetery assistant who hates leaves, a medically induced impotence operation, and the grim reaper himself among many other bizarre occurrences.  

Cemetery Man is one of those rare films that seems to have come from another dimension that our society didn’t really know what to do with. Rupert Everett, who plays the protagonist in the film put it well in a 2013 interview; “…as soon as something is outside of the box, [that’s the problem] with our culture in general… we don’t now have the mechanism to see films that are outside one of the particular boxes” (BFIEvents [YouTube]).

It’s very difficult to market bizarre films, hence the majority of the films in theaters are full of recognizable and safe assets. One must go out of their way in order to view something ‘out of the box’. Everett cites this as the main reason Cemetery Man has been doomed to obscurity and I agree with him. 

There is nothing traditional about this film and to call it divisive would be an understatement. However, there is still an audience for it, a small but vocal fanbase that refuses to forget about this bizarre masterpiece. This film and other films of a similar vein have the potential to entertain heaps of people, but as Everett noted, there’s hardly a way to get the word out about films such as this one. Perhaps if this article can convince one reader to give this weird film a shot, well that’s as good a start as any.

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