Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

★★★ Watched 29 Jan, 2020

My film viewing was a lot more diverse growing up in the old Yugoslavia, where national TV would show movies from all around the world. There were no private TV stations or cable channels to push their commercial interests. Also, the 80s was the dying decade of the golden era of Italian cinema which was producing amazing specter of spectacles from period dramas, fantasy epics and big actions movies to westerns and horror. Then Hollywood completely took over the mainstream cinema just when I reached the peak of adolescence and slowly forgot about the influence and style of Italian cinema.

Meanwhile, my interest was also taken by anime (animation from Japan) and I was pondering and later explaining to friends the cultural differences between the Far East and the West that I learned from years of watching anime. Now, after decades of Hollywood indoctrination, I realize how Italian and European cinema, in general, also had a very much distinct style and approach, that is strange and exotic to someone who grew up in USA. I use the past tense because the new generations of filmmakers that grew up with Hollywood movies internalized their aesthetics and storytelling style as their own and slowly abandoned the old European way. You can still find movies with a distinctly regional style, but those are relegated to art cinema which is rarely distributed through the regular cinema channels.

Dellamorte Dellamore was directed by Michele Soavi, a protege of legendary Italian director Dario Argento. Soavi also worked with director Lamberto Bava, son of legendary Mario Bava. So this movie has a strong sense of old Italian horror style with gore, partial nudity and humor. Being a fan of Italian comic strip series Dylan Dog, I could see the inspiration, mainly in the main character who deals with paranormal on daily basis, has a revolver that he always drops or misplaces when he needs it the most, drives an old WV Beatle, is a loner who is being helped by his incompetent assistant and police inspector that always has his back. Also, he usually falls for a young woman that gets him into trouble one way or the other. All these elements od Dylan Dog are here, but this is still not Dylan Dog as we know him from comics.

EDIT: After writing this I found out that the screenplay was based upon the story by Tiziano Sclavi, author of Dylan Dog. Mystery solved. 😉

The movie itself is quite bizarre, especially if you are used to the Hollywood horror style. Rupert Everett, whose looks were an inspiration for character Dylan Dog (another intentional “coincidence”), plays the caretaker of a cemetery in a small Italian town where corpses come back to life and he needs to take care of them. His distinguished British origin fits surprisingly well in the Italian setting where everyone speaks (mostly dubbed) English. Things get complicated once he gets involved with a young widow. Then the train really goes off the rails after a traffic tragedy involving the mayor’s teenage daughter.

I have to admit this movie would never come under my radar if it wasn’t for the connection to Dylan Dog. I’m glad I saw it because it provided a nostalgia for the old Italian cinema that I almost forgot I had and a welcome distraction from the familiar and overly polished Hollywood style. Special effects are very much of the era and quite convincing for this type of movie. Next, I’m planning to rewatch some of Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill movies of my youth.

Source: Letterboxd
Info: IMDb

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