I had seen both Soavi's Stagefright debut and The Church and had been very impressed with both, but Dellamorte Dellamore was the film that I kept noting fans mention as his best work to date.
I finally got hold of the Italian dvd and I certainly wasn't disappointed. For me, this is the most exciting horror film made since Evil Dead II, although the comparison would have to end there. Dellamorte Dellamore is one of the most unique and original films that I have seen in the horror genre. Hell, any genre when I think about it!
From the moment the camera panned back from the skull at the beginning, I found myself enthralled. This Soavi picture is a surreal horror fantasy with exciting camerawork, beautiful photography, and a very original script. It's one of those unique films where you have no idea what will happen next. For the whole film. That's a rarity in this genre! The film also contains hefty doses of very dark humour.
This is what Soavi has said - "Dellamorte Dellamore proved that it's possible to do something unusual and evocative and to be successful with it."
I shall only give a basic plot rundown because I'm reluctant to reveal any spoilers. One of the joys of the film is the surprising direction that it takes upon your initial viewing.
Rupert Everett plays Francesco Dellamorte, a somewhat morose yet thoroughly likeable character in the bizarre province of "Buffalora." He works at the town's cemetary with an Igor-like assistant called Gnaghi, played with much gusto by Francoise Hadji-Lazaro. The two make a great combination but as the Gnaghi character has a severe speech impediment, it tends to be a very one-sided conversation.
A plague has hit Buffalora's cemetary. After several days, some fresh corpses are reanimated and Dellamorte has to ensure that they're destroyed and returned to their resting places.
However, what begins as a zombie film develops further into a twisted and thoroughly enjoyable fantasy as the Dellamorte character starts to loose his grip on the boundaries between the dead and the living, and his subsequent moral behaviour.
Everett shines in his role. His delivery of the monologue and movie dialogue is flawless. His wry comments and his almost bored reactions to the most extraordinary circumstances are a joy to behold. All of Francesco's musings are entertaining and I have to say that I agreed with a lot of his social commentary!
Despite the high comedy and gore factors, Dellamorte Dellamore is a very poignant film at times. A strange and exciting combination. Those feelings of poignancy are produced by the photography and camerawork, Everett's performance, the use of the score material and the script itself. It's particularly evident in the last several minutes of the picture. I found those last few moments to be genuinely moving.
Talking of the score, I loved this one again. Each of the Soavi films that I've seen has had a wonderful score. In this picture the variation and use of the score material really impressed me. For example, not only do I love to hear the music of Philip Glass stirring up emotions, but it's also great fun to observe a relaxed Dellamorte nonchalantly shooting zombies whilst a Eurobeat type dance track plays!
The camerawork and photography are equally impressive. Ditto with the editing, and the pleasing steadycam work in some sequences. All in all...I can't fault this picture. I would describe it as a classic and I urge any horror fan to seek it out.
I bought the Italian Medusa dvd. Here's what that disc provides:
- Widescreen print
- Choice of English or Italian - 2.0 Dolby
- Commentary with director Michele Soavi and writer Gianni Romoli
- Making-of documentary (18 minutes)
- Cast and crew biographies
The picture quality is EXCELLENT but unfortunately the disc only offers a 2.0 soundtrack. However, it does provide the choice of either English or Italian, with optional subtitles for each.
As you would expect from an Italian disc, the commentary, documentary and biographies are in Italian. The documentary features an interview with Everett which has had an Italian voice placed over the top. With a bit of concentration, it's possible to hear and understand Everett. Also, that making-of footage is great fun to watch.
Italian subtitles are available for both that documentary and the commentary, so people with a rudimentary knowledge of Italian would probably be able to understand it. I should imagine that it's far easier to read and understand another language, rather than by just being able to listen to it.
So a great film with nice extras provided by Medusa. Trouble is, having no knowledge of Italian, all I can do is enjoy that making-of footage which is why I've probably been a bit mean with this disc's extras mark.
It's a shame about the lack of a 5.1 soundtrack, but other than that, I can't fault this disc. Only myself for my ignorance of Italian! I would thorougly recommend Medusa's disc of this Soavi classic.