Well here we are, Necropolis Macabre’s first review. I was unsure of what I was going to kick things off with, but in the end I decided to begin with something that fit the theme of the blog. And as the title of this post indicates, the horror-comedy Dellamorte Dellamore was the winner.
Released back in 1994, Michele Soavi (who was hand-picked to direct it by none other than horror master Dario Argento himself) tells the tale of Francesco Dellamorte, the caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetery. His job has the added complication of the dead returning to life within a week of being buried. The reason for this is never explained, and it’s unclear whether or not it’s happening in other cemeteries. Francesco wants the living dead issue to be investigated, but with the possibility of having the cemetery shut down by the mayor, and the paperwork involved, Francesco decides “It’s easier just to shoot them.” As with standard zombie movie fare, destroying the brain is the way to permanently kill the returners. So, with his mentally handicapped right-hand man Gnagi at his side, he continues his vigil to put the “returners” as he calls them back into the ground for good.
Then, things start to get weird. It’s difficult to talk about the events that transpire from here without giving too much away, but I’ll do my best. Aside from the dead returning to life, Francesco falls in love with a widow, played by the stunning Finnish model/actress Anna Falchi. I don’t know if everyone in Italy is so quick to fall in love and all, but this was love at first sight if I’ve ever seen it. Unfortunately she meets an early demise, which is the main catalyst to Francesco’s gradual breakdown. From here on we get a spiral of odd story developments, such as Death appearing and trying to convince Francesco to kill the living by shooting them in the head and preventing them from returning from the grave, Gnagi falling in love with the mayor’s daughter and actually getting the girl (though not in the condition one would normally want a girl in), and Francesco meeting two other women (both played also by Anna Falchi), who also feel a connection to him. Where these developments go will be up to you to find out of course.
While normally this level of bizarre might turn some people off (and in fact it did as outside of Italy it was not well received), this movie is so well made its damn near a work of art. The camera work was incredible, especially compared to the abysmal standards adopted by Hollywood today. I found the settings and prop work were very beautifully designed and shot. In fact, the cemetery was an actual de-consecrated cemetery dressed up for the movie. As well, there is an early scene in an ossuary, which was shot in a real ossuary. It too was dressed up somewhat to add to the creepiness.
The practical and makeup effects were very effective. Of course, with such a high kill count, you really shouldn’t skimp. Lots of bullets to the head, shovels splitting heads open, and a motorcycle/bus collision that put a satisfied look on my face. At least I assume it looked that way, as I didn’t have a mirror on-hand.
I also enjoyed the acting throughout. Rupert Everett’s mostly deadpan performance as Francesco Dellamorte convinced me that the character would not have been as interesting if he was smiling a lot. Anna Falchi’s acting was criticized by some to be the weakest in the movie. I personally didn’t think she did such a bad job, and I can once again compare her to some of the current Hollywood roster and say she’s certainly better than many Hollywood ladies acting today. Strange, I didn’t intend to blast Hollywood so much today. Anyway, François Hadji-Lazaro’s role as the simple-minded but innocent Gnagi was quite entertaining. An interesting tidbit about François that I didn’t know until recently is that he is a successful musician in France. You wouldn’t think that going by his role in Dellamorte Dellamore.
Here’s some trivia for you before I end this review: the movie is based on the novel of the same name, and the Francesco Dellamorte character was based on the main character of the Italian comic book Dylan Dog. In fact, Dylan Dog’s look was actually influenced by Rupert Everett, which is how he got the role for the movie. Rupert Everett later approached Michele Soavi about doing a remake that takes place in America. Obviously nothing ever came of it, probably because of the terrible overseas reception when the movie came out. There has been talk of a sequel for some time, but whether or not that will come into being remains to be seen.
Well, there you have it. Of course I would start off with a movie that’s just hard to explain with all of its oddities. But I recommend those of you who have yet to see Dellamorte Dellamore should do so as soon as possible. It’s built up a cult following over the years, and for good reason. Next time, maybe I’ll review something that’s a little more straight-forward.
Macabre rating: 4.5 out of 5 tombstones