Wednesday, June 6, 2007

#13: Cemetery Man (Michele Soavi, 1994)

Hyper-stylized overkill is not really my thing, hence my distaste for Oliver Stone, summer blockbusters, and most music videos and commercials. I can't even enjoy this stuff on a couch-potato level because the barrage of loud and fast images gives me a headache and the nature of the barrage usually forces the actors to portray their characters as either ultra-cartoony hams, inert dullards, or little lost children. "Cemetery Man" is full of hyper-stylized overkill. And I loved it.
"Say what?" you say. "Explain, dickhead."
Okay, I will. If any film can justify extreme hyper-stylized shenanigans, this film's mixture of comedy, horror, pontifications on the meaning of life and death, and hummingbird-quick changes in tone can. "Cemetery Man" has the uncanny ability to make you think you know where it's taking you, then abruptly jerk you somewhere far away from there, then muss your hair, slap you on the rump, and gently set you down right where you think you should be, but things have changed so much that the familiar path is just as fucked up as the one you were on. If you can make sense of that tortured, awful sentence, you might be the ideal viewer for this movie.

The film is photographed in such a massively inappropriate way that any other way of photographing the film would have been inappropriate. It's shot like an expensive European perfume commercial. Think of movies you've seen that were obnoxiously, claustrophobically, middlebrow-ily postcard pretty. This movie looks just like that, times fifty, though instead of the E.M. Forster adaptations and costume dramas we are used to seeing through that clear postcard haze, "Cemetery Man" is full of zombies, exploding heads, large-breasted naked women, fat guys with messy eating habits and vomiting problems, dirt, slime, improperly stored public records, horrific automobile accidents, love affairs with decapitated teenage heads, skull-splitting, a syringe to the cock (partially offscreen), the fight within oneself to overcome nihilism and ennui, and sex on graves.

This film starts where lesser zombie films take two hours to finish, and propels itself crazily through an ever-expanding maze of detours, digressions, gags, pratfalls, contemplations, tender empathies, nihilistic brutalities, bad jokes, good jokes, and multiple weirdnesses until it dead-ends, a few miles from where it began, in a surprisingly moving conclusion.

I failed to mention that Rupert Everett plays the leading role, and he's perfect for it.

I'm overselling it a bit, but I've never seen anything like it. I particularly recommend it for people who don't like horror movies. And people who do.

True love travels on a gravel road.

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