Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Dellamorte,Dellamore"(1994)d/Michele Soavi

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The greatest zombie flick of all time.
Oh yes it is.The perfect combination of art and exploitation,amazing cinematography and atmosphere,Soavi's masterpiece transcends the horror genre;the perfect mix of dark humour,extreme gore,sexuality,and romance.It almost doesn't fit into any category,and herein lies the film's strength.It is championed by Romero-philes and Godard-ites alike.Soavi,who laboured as an assistant director/actor in the films of Argento,Bava,Fulci,et al, for years,shows his true mettle with this entry which came at a time when Italian horror was at a wane,and arguably surpassed his teachers.His talents as a director,evident in all his films,are nowhere more clear than in this submission.Then he disappeared from the spotlight to direct Italian television and care for one of his terminally ill children,perhaps satisfied that he had created in many individuals' minds,the ultimate horror film.
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You threw out the old phone books??Those are CLASSICS!
Francesco Dellamorte(Rupert Everett) is the caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetery.He's a lonely man whose only friends are Gnaghi(François Hadji-Lazaro),a pudgy,bald simpleton(seemingly)who acts as his assistant,and Franco(Anton Alexander),who he's never met in person.Life is boring for Dellamorte,who's hobbies are reading outdated telephone directories and piecing together a fragmented human skull.Except that recently,seven nights after they are buried,the corpses(which he calls "returners") return to life due to mandragola roots in the cemetery to raise havok on the living,if Francesco and Gnaghi weren't there to dispatch them with a bullet or shovel-blade,that is.Francesco's pleas for investigation fall on the deaf ears of the mayor,who is more concerned with his latest campaign than anything else.
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Just look at the beautiful err,umm...composition of this shot.
It's business as usual for Dellamorte and his assistant until an old man's funeral brings him face to face with the woman of his dreams,known only as "She"(Anna Falchi),mourning the loss of her elderly lover(!).He lures her into the cemetery's ossuary,which invokes feelings of dormant love and sensuality in her(works every time!),and she makes love to him on her dead husband's grave,arguing that she hid nothing from him in life.Only her husband rises from his earthy confines and bites her before Dellamorte can dispatch the angry zombie.He waits seven days next to her still body and shoots her in the head as she rises to embrace him.So much for love...
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Gnaghi(François Hadji-Lazaro)and Valentina(Fabiana Formica),sitting in a grave...Love really does know no boundaries,eh?
The plot thickens when the mayor's daughter Valentina dies violently on potential beau Claudio's motorbike,taking out a schoolbus full of boy scouts in the process.Francesco readies for the reanimation of the century,while Gnaghi excitedly waits for Valentina's return,as he fancied her in life(showing affection by nervously throwing up on her in the plaza!).Dellamorte dispatches the forever-chomping little zombies,Claudio rides his motorbike out of the grave(apparently buried with the twisted wreck!)and eats his distraught girlfriend,and Gnaghi takes Valentina's disembodied zombified head to his room,playing his coffin-violin for her.When the mayor hears his daughter's voice coming from Gnaghi's room,he rushes in only to be bitten in the neck by her flying head when he disapproves of her current,unlikely romance.Dellamorte dispatches Valentina,then later,the mayor's zombie.Or rather,"ex-mayor".
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Dellamorte(Rupert Everett)creates a hole for this nun's spirit to escape out of.Amen.
Along the way,Dellamorte encounters two incarnations of "She";one,the new mayor's assistant,who loves Francesco,but is terrified by penises(!!!),causing the caretaker to barge into a doctor's office demanding to have his manhood amputated!When "She" returns to Buffalora,Francesco is interrupted in telling her his good news by her story of being raped by the new mayor...and liking it!She leaves,hoping he will understand.He doesn't.The final "She" he gives a lift home to her flat,making love to her several times before her roommate informs him they are merely prostitutes.He places a space heater in bed with the exhausted girl,burning the dwelling and occupants to the ground.When he is overlooked in the investigation of the fire,he is visited by Death itself,and given another option by the apparition,leading to a fantastically surreal climax.
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The Angel of Death visits Buffalora.Francesco has a revelation.
Originally inspired by "Dylan Dog",one of the hottest comic books in Italy(selling a million copies a month!),Dellamorte,Dellamore was nearly picked up by American funders/distributors,but Soavi turned down their choice of Matt Dillon(!)as the caretaker.Thank the gods for that.Some viewers don't get the startling imagery,tributes,or symbolism abound in this film,as to be expected,and perhaps horror fans of that ilk would be better served waiting for the next Freddy Krueger or Scream sequel.Love it or hate it,what Michele Soavi has created is a ferociously original,completely satisfying,work of art.Highly recommended.
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Anonymous said...

This really is an amazing movie, and I can't find error to criticize your review.. Perfecto!

beedubelhue said...

Rumor has it that Soavi is about to return to the director's chair,hopefully in a genre film.Let's keep our fingers crossed...

Madame Enfer said...

Great review, fully agree. Have you heard anything about the possible sequel?

Dellamorte Dellamore is achingly romantic at times - that whole sequence when Francesco follows the blue will-o-the-wisps and comes upon She under the golden, unnaturally enormous moon, complete with a haunting, swelling score.

beedubelhue said...

Thanks! I hadnn't heard much beyond the usual rumour mill stuff, no.But yeah, romance abounds in Dellamorte like nobody's biz.Still love it.


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