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DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (aka CEMETERY MAN) (1994) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by goregirl

I am writing this review as I sip a coffee on the balcony of my new apartment. It’s nice out here! I am going to buy some plants and flowers and shit to make it all secret gardeny. I love my new neighborhood too! I particularly like that the best video store in Vancouver is just minutes away from me! I can’t wait to dig into their catalog of goodies! I will definitely have an interesting mix of titles for reviews in September. I apologize for the thin postings for zombie month. I usually cover a lot more films for this feature. The whole moving thing really messed with my blogging. Since this is the last week of zombies I wanted to make sure I covered another flick from my favorite’s list. I figured there were more reviews out there for the other films on my list and Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) could use more love. I happen to think Dellamorte Dellamore is one of the most original and entertaining films about the undead out there!

Dellamorte Dellamore’s DVD came with a bunch of trailers and an interesting interview/documentary thing on Michele Soavi. Soavi discusses his association with Dylan Dog creator Tiziano Sclavi who wrote the novel on which Dellamorte Dellamore is based. Soavi cites three directors as his teachers; Joe D’Amato, Dario Argento and Terry Gilliam. Soavi worked on films in Italy with both D’Amato and Argento in various capacities; he just seemed to greatly admire Gilliam who he referred to as a visionary poet (or something along those lines-I really should have written it down). In any case, it is a nice little documentary bonus.

Dellamorte Dellamore never calls its menace “zombie” therefore none of those classic zombie characteristics apply. The dead certainly look rotten enough when they come back but they are highly functional. In Dellamorte Dellamore those who rise from the dead are called “returners”; at least that is what Francesco Dellamorte, caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetery calls them. Within seven days of being buried in the Buffalora Cemetery the dead rise from their graves and it is Dellamorte’s job to make sure they get back to their final resting place permanently. He could lodge a formal complaint, but the amount of paperwork involved is such a hassle it is just easier for Dellamorte to shoot them in the head. Dellamorte also has an assistant named Gnaghi, a portly good natured man with child-like tendencies. The two live and work in the Buffalora Cemetery.

Dellamorte Dellamore opens with Francesco Dellamorte chatting on the phone to a friend in nothing but a towel. Dellamorte answers a knock at the door and is greeted by a reanimated corpse. He calmly shoots the corpse in the head and carries on with his conversation. Just another night in the Buffalora Cemetery for our Mr. Dellamorte. Dellamorte says to his friend “life goes on” and in his world it certainly does! The “returners” are generally pretty easy targets; although a few do give Dellamorte some trouble. There is an insane accident that kills several people at once; all of which will be buried in the Buffalora Cemetery. Dellamorte and Gnaghi have their work ahead of them! The makeup and effects are top notch! Each “returner” is unique in appearance which is determined by how they died. I particularly enjoyed the teeth clacking boy scouts! The “returners” seem to recollect loved ones, they speak, and one of them even rides a motorcycle. They do come back pretty pissed sometimes and they will bite you. It hurts like a sonofabitch but their bite does not turn you into the undead. Everyone who dies in this film dies twice; and a lot of people die in Dellamorte Dellamore. There is blood and gore but most of it isn’t particularly graphic. More die quickly with a shot to the head than by any other means. There are a couple special nuggets however that I will not tell you about.

While I would refer to Dellamorte Dellamore as a horror-comedy, it is also a gothic romantic tale. One of the film’s most important elements is “She” who goes by many names and none. He first meets “She” at her rich old husband’s funeral. I can not really go into details about “She” without spoiling a chunk of the film. But “She” shows up in several different scenarios all of which Dellamorte falls madly in love with her. Dellamorte spends the rest of the film in this love-death loop that is bound to take its toll on his psyche! The film does indeed take a strange turn after pieces of burned phonebook take the shape of death who speaks to Dellamorte. Dellamorte Dellamore’s finale is really something else! I love Dellamorte Dellamore’s look and feel. It is dark and gothic yet whimsical. I can see a touch of Gilliam influence in Soavi’s visuals. Dellamorte Dellamore has an entertaining story and great humour that gets decidedly darker as the films rolls on. The film’s central character Francesco Dellamorte is equal parts charming, arrogant and awkward. I also found him kind of sexy! Among Dellamorte’s hobbies are reading outdated telephone books, clipping obituaries out of the newspaper and having sex with beautiful women in graveyards. Rupert Everett was a brilliant choice for Dellamorte; I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Gnaghi, Dellamorte’s faithful, slow-witted assistant who speaks only in grunty sounds is a likable and empathetic bloke and is played perfectly by François Hadji-Lazaro. “She” is both the love of his life and the primary source of his pain and anxiety. The gorgeous Anna Falchi is as comely as they come and it is not difficult to understand how Dellamorte falls in love with her on site!

Dellamorte Dellamore came out of one of horror’s most uninspired decades and was such a fantastic surprise! It is playful, funny, dark and strange. There was a rumour a year or so back that Michele Soavi was going to do a sequel to Dellamorte Dellamore. Sadly no such project is listed on Soavi’s IMDB page. If Soavi ever does do a sequel, I will be the first in line! Dellamorte Dellamore gets my highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica, Clive Riche, Katja Anton, Barbara Cupisti, Anton Alexander

OPERA (1987) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by goregirl

I’m a big fan of Dario Argento’s earlier films but I don’t think I’ve watched anything after Tenebre multiple times. I probably wouldn’t have re-watched Opera had I not found it among the contents of a discarded box of VHS tapes. I see so many horror films in a year that many “good” films get lost in the shuffle. It’s often only the great and the horrifically bad that sticks with me. This is why I keep lists. Opera is one of those good films that got lost in the shuffle. Argento’s stylish and inventive visuals, great elaborate murder scenes and an absolutely amazing setting certainly make it an entertaining watch.

We begin at the rehearsal for a modern operatic adaptation of Macbeth. It is believed that performing Macbeth brings bad luck. It certainly seems the case after a car hits the production’s diva the night before it’s opening. The woman’s reluctant understudy Betty is brought in to replace her. The bad luck continues into opening night when a huge lighting fixtures falls from a balcony and a stagehand is killed. But the show carries on and Betty is a huge hit with the audience and the critics. After the performance she goes back with her boyfriend to his uncle’s opulent home. Her boyfriend leaves her on the bed to pour them some tea and comes back to find her tied to a column, mouth taped shut and eyes forced open with needles. She is forced to watch the brutal killing of her boyfriend and is then freed. This sets the stage for a gory whodunit featuring a masked killer, a bunch of ravens, weird dream sequences, pulsing brains and memorable death scenes.

During the opening credits there is a shot of a raven with the opera house reflected in its eye. Besides the fact it is an incredibly cool looking shot, it also beautifully sets things up for the scene to follow. The ravens are used to great effect throughout and are pivotal to exposing the killer. The death scenes are all grandly staged and are creative and bloody enough to make up for the low body count. In the films reveal we get a remarkable raven’s-eye view of the theatre in an impressive and dizzying aerial shot. The amazing opera house where most of the film takes place is absolutely spectacular. There are also plenty of trademark Argento extended shots down hallways, up staircases, etc. Argento definitely knows a thing or two about making a stylish horror film. Based on visuals alone the film is top notch. But alas a film cannot survive on style alone.

Style it has in spades, but substance is where Opera flounders a touch. For starters, there aren’t a lot of characters in the film, which made the list of suspects pretty short. It wasn’t much of a revelation when the killer is exposed. Cristina Marsillach does a pretty good job with the wishy-washy character of Betty. The Betty character is downright useless for most of the film and really doesn’t do much of anything to help herself. I found the character annoyingly fragile. I wish Argento had given this character a little more strength and depth. With the exception of Betty’s boyfriend who is as wishy-washy as she is, most of the supporting characters are actually more interesting than Betty. The dream sequences are crazy cool and relevant to the plot so pay attention. I am still scratching my head over the shots of a brain pulsing throughout the film. I have no idea what the significance of the brain shots is but I LOVED IT! I found the mix of opera and rock music interesting although it does date the film; there is no mistaking this is a film from the late 1980s.

Opera is a satisfying and entertaining flick. The idea of tying someone up, covering their mouth and taping needles under their eyes so they are forced to watch brutal death is pretty dastardly but letting your victim free only to do it again is extra sadistic. Leave it to Argento to come up with such a wonderfully twisted idea! The film is perfectly paced and felt much shorter than its runtime and Opera’s visuals alone are easily worth the price of admission. Although the killer’s identity isn’t much of a surprise, certainly his motivation was, and in the end I felt quite sated. Opera doesn’t quite live up to Argento’s older films like Deep Red, Suspiria, or Tenebre but is still a rock solid offering. Highly Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Dario Argento

Starring: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Antonella Vitale, William McNamara, Barbara Cupisti

Deliria – STAGE FRIGHT – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by goregirl

stage fright dvd“The theatre of death”

One of my favorite horror films from the 90’s is Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetary Man) directed by Michele Soavi. In 1985 Soavi completed the documentary ‘Dario Argento’s World of Horror’ and in 1987 he made his feature length film debut with ‘Stage Fright’. An impressive foray into the slasher genre.

The cast and crew of a stage play are locked inside a theatre with a recently escaped killer.

By no means does Soavi reinvent the wheel, but he definitely adds his own unique filming flair to ‘Stage Fright’. It’s easy to see the Argento influence. Following cables along the floor and through doorways, extended shots of inanimate objects. The production value and excellent direction from Soavi definitely elevates this film above many a slasher. The vast majority of the film takes place inside the theatre, so props are limited but what is used works extremely well. The theatre itself is a solid setting for a massacre and there are copious shadowed corners and hidden places for our killer. The owl head the killer wears is super cool. It is without a doubt my favorite thing about ‘Stage Fright’.

still from stage fright

The film doesn’t feel overly dated, but certainly the fashion and music is reflective of the decade. There is a variety of characterizations ranging from self-involved jerk, to those you might feel compelled to root for. The performances were generally pretty good, although not particularily memorable. The effects are decent and the gore is moderate. I would have liked to have seen some more creative kills but there are still a few memorable ones here. There is some decent moments of tension throughout. I particularily liked the scene of the owl-man just sitting calmly with a black cat in his lap on the stage. Also impressive is the scene where the female lead is searching underneath the stage floor for a key she seen poking through. It is a rather frustrating scenerio for the group locked inside the building. The body of a female crew member was found dead in their parking lot earlier that day, so the cops have posted a car right outside the theatre door. There is literally about 10 feet between the front door they spend time banging on, and the cop car outside. It is also a stormy night with torrential downpours and lightening. It probably would have been wiser to have called it a night. But it is a slasher after all, and it would have been a pretty short film if they had all went home. I found the DVD sound to be somewhat troublesome at times. There were a couple of scenes where the music is too loud for the dialog. Overall though, I would say that ‘Stage Fright’ is a damn solid Italian slasher. Anyone who enjoys Italian horror and/or slasher films from the 80’s should find much to like here. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore, Robert Gligorov, Mickey Knox, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Clain Parker, Loredana Parrella and Martin Philips