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Cemetery Man (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Dellamorta Dellamore / Cemetery Man (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 24th, 2023.
    Director: Michele Soavi
    Cast: Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, François Hadji-Lazaro
    Year: 1994
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    Cemetery Man – Movie Review:

    In 1994, Dario Argento protégé Michele Soavi would direct what would go on to become his most popular film, Dellamorte Dellamore, known in North America as Cemetery Man.

    The story, loosely based on the Italian comic book Dylan Dog (or more specifically on a supporting character from that series, which did see print in North America through Dark Horse comics), is the story of Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett), the groundskeeper of a cemetery in the small town of Buffalora, Italy. He, along with his seemingly mentally challenged assistant, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), have their work cut out for them however, as the dead in this particular cemetery keep returning back to life as zombies for some never explained reason.

    One day Francesco meets a newly widowed woman (Anna Falchi), a real beauty, who he becomes very smitten with. The two fall in love fast, and when they consummate in the cemetery one night, her husband, like the other bodies buried there, returns from the grave and bites her, causing her to slowly die - an inconvenience, to be sure. From this point on, Francesco continuously meets the same woman over and over again, in different reincarnations, only to fall in love with her again and have her taken away just as swiftly each time.

    Meanwhile, a subplot involving Gnaghi finds him falling in love with the severed head of the mayor's daughter, recently deceased, who he keeps hidden away in secret in his room in the basement. From here on out, Gnaghi develops what is a childlike and innocent, but at the same time, completely twisted relationship with her (or at least that part of her).

    Cemetery Man is hardly a standard zombie gut-muncher. The film skillfully weaves plot lines together all the while playing around with some very strong and beautiful imagery involving life, love, death, and the tragic concept of eternal loneliness. Not only is the film a wonder to behold in the visual sense, but it's also got some great performances from Everett (who I normally can't stand), and Falchi, who proves that she's more than just a pretty face in this film, evoking an air of sensual tragedy upon her recurring character.

    It's rare that you actually start to care or even really feel anything for the characters in horror movies, especially ones from the Italian zombie sub-genre where, more often than not, they tend to be underdeveloped. So it's a testament to Soavi's film that you’ll find yourself really wanting things to work out for Francesco, hoping he would get the girl and live happily ever after, all the while knowing that it just wasn't going to happen and that he really was out of his league in more ways than one.

    While most zombie films go for the gore and don't really bother with things like characterization or storytelling, Cemetery Man does exactly the opposite in such a slick and wonderful way that I'm surprised this film isn't better known than it is. Not that the film doesn't have its share of blood and guts, those elements are definitely there, it's just that they never overshadow the more important aforementioned aspects of what makes this movie work.

    Cemetery Man/Dellamorte Dellamore is highly recommended not only to horror and zombie movie fans, but also to anyone who's able to appreciate beautiful imagery, black humor, and interesting characters.

    Cemetery Man – Blu-ray Review:

    NOTE: This review is based on downloaded ISO files from Severin Films, not on physical discs (which were not available at the time of this writing). As such, we can’t cover inserts, packaging or anything else not included with the download files.

    Severin Films brings Cemetery Man to UHD framed at 1.66.1 in an HVEC encoded 2160p transfer looking really, really nice. Colors are reproduced beautifully and black levels are nice and deep. Detail is excellent throughout, you’ll really get a new appreciation for the texture and depth in the image as the new transfer really brings out all the fibers in the fabrics, dust on the shelves and decaying flowers scattered about. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues. The image is pretty much completely spotless, allowing natural film grain through but showing virtually no print damage. The movie looks great here.

    Audio options are provided in English Dolby Atmos, 24-bit DTS-HD English 5.1, 24-bit DTS-HD English Stereo and 24-bit DTS-HD Italian Stereo with optional English subtitle and closed captioning options provided. All three tracks were sampled and sound clean, clear and properly balanced throughout. Surround channels are used effectively and there are no issues with hiss, distortion or sibilance.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary from Director Michele Soavi and Screenwriter Gianni Romoli. The commentary is semi-scene specific, going over why they opening presents what our lead character goes through as just part of his daily routine, problems that he ran into while writing the movie and trying to create a proper plot rather than just different episodes, where the movie toys with stereotypes, the absurdity of the story, how some of the effects were created, working with a modest budget, working with the different cast and crew members, bringing Rupert Everett onboard, how the film deals with death, shooting locations, the problems of having a railway line next to your shoot, costuming, rehearsals that took place, set decorating and plenty more.

    Moving on to the featurettes, At The Graves is an interview with Michele Soavi that runs thirty-six minutes. Here he speaks about discovering the Dylan Dog comic that inspired the movie, what went into adapting the source material, getting Rupert Everett on board, working with the other cast and crew members, the actual cemeteries that were used for different scenes, what it was like on set, auditioning different cast members, the importance of having a hand truck on set, memories of shooting some of the more complex scenes, wanting the movie to be very unique and over the top and why he remains quite proud of the film.

    Of Love And Death is an interview with Actor Rupert Everett that runs twenty-one minutes and sees the actor talking about the film's English retitling, thoughts on the comic book source material, how he got the part, where his career was at during this period in time, the very random nature of making films, recollections of shooting certain scenes and getting along with his co-workers, his thoughts on the look of the film and the effects work, how difficult it can be working night shoots, the use of humor and violence in the film and how the film stands as a completely unique work which he remains very proud of having worked on.

    Anna Falchi, still a knock out, is interviewed in a piece called She, where the actress talks for twenty-four minutes about how she got involved with the production in the first place, the different characters that she plays in the movie and how she tried to make them different from one another, how she hadn't read the Dylan Dog comics before starting on the project, the effects work featured in the movie, how great the crew was to work with, some of the themes that the movie explores, some of the makeup that she had to undergo, what Soavi was like as a director, some of the other director's she'd worked with and quite a bit more.

    An eighteen minute Archival Making-Of featurette is up next that features interview clips with Soavi, Everett, Stivaletti, Marchetti, Romoli, Bonelli and a few others as well as a wealth of behind the scenes footage.

    A Matter Of Life And Death is an interview with Gianni Romoli that runs fifty-eight minutes. It goes over the source material and characters, his love of B-movies from a young age, how he came to work on the script for the movie, working with Soavi on the project, getting Everett onboard, the meta aspects of both the film and the comic that inspired it, some of the themes and ideas that the movie explores, why certain scenes were shot the way they were, how the film was received and if he and Soavi would ever make a sequel to the series.

    Cinematographer Mauro Marchetti is up next in Graveyard Shift. Here, over the span of twenty-nine minutes, he speaks about what elements went into creating the visuals for the film such as German Expressionism and Romanticism, the influence of German cinema, some of the effects featured in the movie, why certain lenses were used for certain scenes, the lighting in the film, wanting the cemetery itself to feel authentic and memories of shooting specifically challenging scenes.

    Head Over Heels is an interview with Actress Fabiana Formica that runs twenty-four minutes. She talks about how she got into acting in the first place in high school, auditioning for the role through a connection with her teacher, working with Soavi, thoughts on her character and character arc in the film, getting along with her co-stars, her thoughts on death, having fun during the shoot despite some very difficult scenes, dealing with prosthetics and makeup, how she felt about the movie when she first saw it versus how she feels about it now.

    The Living Dead Mayor interviews Actor Stefano Masciarelli for eleven minutes about how he landed his role in the film, thoughts on his good-natured character and his importance to the story, working with his fellow actors, shooting the scene where he's bitten, how he lost his hearing in his left ear for twenty days when there was a malfunction during a scene involving a gun and some amusing memories from the shoot.

    The Music From The Underground interview Composer Riccardo Biseo in a twenty-one minute segment where he speaks about how he got into music and started as a classical pianist and church organist, how he got into scoring films, landing the job scoring the feature, working with Soavi, the technology that was used to create the score, wanting to create a certain atmosphere with the music, how leftover music not used for the movie wound up on the soundtrack release and his thoughts on how the finished film turned out.

    Special FX Artist Sergio Stivaletti speaks up in Resurrection. Here, over nineteen minutes, he talks about the insane popularity of Dylan Dog around the time that the movie was made, where the idea for creating a film from the source material came from, his initial thoughts on the screenplay, how Soavi wanted the zombies in the film to be a bit different than they're typically portrayed in horror films, getting along with the cast and crew, creating specific set pieces, experimenting with techniques as his work on the movie progressed, how great Falchi was to work with from a makeup and effects perspective and why he believes the movie to be an important one.

    Cemetery Gates interview Set Designer Antonello Geleng in a twenty-six minute piece where he talks about meeting Soavi for the first time, how they came to work together, collaborating on The Sect and The Church, what was required of him on Dellamorta Dellamore, film in a real cemetery versus on a soundstage, which scenes were specifically complicated to get right, creating the different sets used in the movie and where Soavi got a lot of his inspiration from and why he remains very fond of the movie.

    Grave Encounters is an interview with Alan Jones, Author Of Profondo Argento that runs nine minutes. He talks about how popular the Dylan Dog comic was in Italy, how this lead to the making of the movie, how the character was basically based on Rupert Everett, what's happened with the rights to the property, Soavi's relationship with Argento during this period, his own experiences with the movie and thoughts on the different characters and performances and how he feels about the impact of the film's ending.

    Finishing up the extras are an Italian trailer, and English trailer, menus and chapter selection options. Finished retail product will come with a booklet and a soundtrack CD.

    Cemetery Man - The Final Word:

    Cemetery Man remains a high mark in the late period Italian horror, with some great performances and superb art direction. The new release from Severin Films is pretty much the definitive word on the film, offering it up in gorgeous shape with an insane amount of extra features.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Cemetery Man Blu-ray screen caps!

    NOTE - An earlier version of this review showed a glitch in screen cap #19. That glitch is not on the disc and appears to have been a computer error on my end. Replaying the files on a different computer did not show the glitch, and the erroneous screen cap has been replaced with one that properly represents the transfer quality.

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    Ian Jane
    Last edited by Ian Jane; 11-25-2023, 09:54 AM.
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