A hip, offbeat horror item floating on a bed of dark philosophy, “Dellamorte Dellamore” is a deceptively easy genre picture with hidden depths. Based on a famous Italian comic strip, film toplines Rupert Everett as a romantic gravedigger more at ease with zombies than human beings. Helmer Michele Soavi (a former assistant to Dario Argento) comes into his own with this personal pic, balancing gore, sex, laughs and youthful despair.
Familiarity with creator Tiziano Sclavi’s cultish Dylan Dog character (drawn with Everett in mind) isn’t necessary to enjoy the film, which could travel well with careful handling. Pic opened locally to shapely biz.
Everett is the misanthropic Francesco Dellamorte, who’s retired from the world to tend a small-town cemetery where the dead have begun climbing out of their graves. He quietly copes with the problem by bashing in the zombies’ skulls and shooting them between the eyes, leaving his half-wit assistant Gnaghi (brilliantly played by French singer Francois Hadji Lazaro) to rebury the critters.
Although Francesco has spread the rumor he’s impotent, he’s not — as a young widow (neophyte Anna Falchi, of Jessica Rabbit dimensions) is pleased to discover. Their idyll, with a healthy dose of attractive, stylized nudity for both, ends badly when her late husband rises from the dead.
Soavi’s visceral connections between love and death (not to mention food and regurgitation) will revolt many, and it takes a strong stomach to watch Everett and Falchi’s nude romping on bone-strewn graves. Motif pans out, however, in a final plot turn.
Everett is physically perfect for the role and moves easily between a stylized comic-strip character and a serial killer with a broken heart. As Gnaghi, Lazaro swings from hilarious to heart-wrenching in the film’s mystic finale. Falchi doesn’t make it past level one.
Lensing and dense production design are campy parodies of horror low-budgeters.