DIRECTOR Michele Soavi WRITER Gianni Romoli; Tiziano Sclavi (novel) STARS Rupert Everett; François Hadji-Lazaro; Anna Falchi DVD Now

Dellamorte DellamoreTo the uninitiated Dellamorte Dellamore would appear, on first impressions, to be an Evil Dead clone but with added sleaze. However, despite Rupert Everett bearing a passing resemblance to Bruce Campbell (from the chin up), this is not the case.

The film opens as we expect it to; zombies rise from their graves and have their brains eviscerated with shovels by Everett (as the protagonist, Francesco Dellamorte) — but quickly the film becomes very much its own bizarre entity. Being more focused on surrealism, kitsch and titillation, it does not attempt to scare as a horror film, but it does provide a curious commentary on the protagonist’s descent into madness as he combats love, loss and zombies.

During the 1970s and 80s it was not uncommon for Italian films to be shot with English dialogue to reach a wider audience, but Dellamorte Dellamore was made in 1994 with the obvious intention of recapturing the feel of these earlier films. Hence, we observe entirely Italian settings wholly populated by British cast members. This peculiar juxtaposition only furthers the film’s unreal atmosphere. The humour is quintessentially British too. “You have a lovely ossuary,” says the voluptuous female lead (Anna Falchi) to the smitten Francesco. These moments of 1970s-style British comedy woven into the atmosphere of an 80s Argento or Bava flick feel stark, but not forced.

The imaginative quirks of the director (Michele Soavi) are enjoyable. For example, not content with showing the inevitable results of a motorcyclist colliding with the front of a bus, the viewer is treated to the reaction of a nearby horse! It is these oddities, combined with surprisingly high production values and acting, which make Dellamorte Dellamore an interesting watch. It does, however, feel about 15 minutes too long and often fails to generate the necessary character or plot empathy to sustain interest.

This Shameless fan edition is a good transfer featuring a sharp picture but disappointing sound levels; the dialogue is very low-level but the music and sound effects are blasted out. The disc comes with audio commentary, a booklet written by the excellent Alan Jones, and all the other extras that usually come as standard.

Posted by Ed Pope