“Death, death, death comes sweeping down, filthy death the leering clown, death on wings, death by surprise, failing evil from worldly eyes, death that spawns as life succumbs, while death and love, two kindred drums, beat the time till judgment day, an actor in a passion play, without beginning, without end, evermore, amen”.
Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? These are all questions we ask ourselves at one time or another. We stop and ask ourselves if our actions have meaning or are we just zombies walking around doing what society tells us we should be doing. Dellamorte Dellamore dares to ask these questions, pushing the zombie film into metaphysical and philosophical realms never before visited in the genre.
The film opens with Francesco Dellamorte, caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetary and his lonely existence. He lives in a small shanty house with the graveyard as his garden and an all but mute coworker Gnaghi, who resides in the basement of the same small house. They spend their days tending the grounds and their nights retiring the returners, the dead that have risen.
Francesco’s life soon takes a turn when he runs across a mysterious woman (the insanely beautiful Anna Falchi) attending her elderly husband’s funeral. Dellamorte shamelessly hits on her and is shot down. As he spends his evening trying to solve a skull shaped three dimensional puzzle and reading the phone book, he continues to think of her.
She seems to have a death fetish and soon returns to Francesco and makes love to him in the cemetery, atop her husband’s grave. He awakens and attacks his former bride, biting her flesh and causing her apparent death.
In any normal film, this would be an end. But in this world, it is a beginning of Dellamorte’s new life. He encounter’s this mysterious woman in many guises and begins to grow as a person because of it (or perhaps in pursuit of it). Each subsequent persona the woman appears as betrays his love and forces Dellamorte to perform mad acts on himself and others.
More archetype than character and several archetypes at that, Anna’s sexually charged gaze follows Dellamorte , each persona more alluring than the last. Is she in fact appearing to him in all these different forms, or does Francesco simply see her in every new woman he meets?
Then there is Gnaghi, who finds love with the mayor’s daughter, there is just one problem…she’s a bodiless corpse. Gnaghi is mute except for grunts but demonstrates that he is infact quite intellegent (usually behind Dellamorte's back). He is often child like but never mistake that for stupidity. When the Mayor's daughter first arrives she is a completely spoiled brat, this however changes after her accidental death and she happily courts Gnaghi. The less said about that, the more you will enjoy it.
Dellamorte is visited by the Grim Reaper, who advises him to kill. His targets go from being zombies to being living people. It seems however, that no matter how close he gets to being someone significant (at least in his own eyes), it is taken away. He is destined to be a nobody, residing in the cemetery like another rotting corpse.
No answers are easy and to provide you with an explanation of the bizarre ending would not only (in my opinion) be near impossible, but would also be a great disservice to my readers. Part zombie film, part kill spree film, and part existential drama, Dellamorte Dellamore represents our greatest needs and our greatest fears. The imagery in the film is like nothing seen before and almost every scene is a perfectly framed masterpiece. There are layers of symbolism and undercurrent of moral and existential themes that play out in subtle ways. Who is Francesco Dellamorte? What is his purpose in life and death? What does "She" represent and who is really the superior intellect, Dellamorte or Gnaghi?
The popular Italian comic book, Dylan Dog grew out of this and a new film based on that comic is set for release starring Brandon Routh. I know it will be a sad comparison so I’m not looking forward to it. In any case, it all starts with this film and I urge you to do yourself a favor, pour yourself some wine, get comfortable, and watch what is widely considered to be the last great Italian horror film.