Tuesday, March 31

Michele Soavi and His End

(spoilerish towards Dellamorte Dellamore, a.k.a. Cemetery Man)

I often ponder whether Michele Soavi has ever found true peace with his directorial career. Of course, Horror fans predominantly know him from his superb genre bookend film, Dellamorte Dellamore, and the young Soavi popping up as a random victim/extra in a host of vintage Italian horror numbers.

But the man essentially grew up in the cottage film industry of Italy during the period most readers here are interested in. His passion was fostered by Argento himself, so I just help but imagine him still feeling at least a touch sore over the fall of what gave him his life's calling.

Looking at his IMDB profile, the director hasn't revisited the genre since '94's Dellamorte. Perhaps Soavi merely saw the writing on the wall and knew Horror in his native country wasn't profitable any longer. Even then, he didn't get back into directing (television productions) several years after his departure from us.

This is why I see Dellamorte Dellamore as Soavi's last mournful stand before accepting the reality of purely commercial filmmaking. Not only in a stylistic sense, but there's a more open current pointing to this running through the film. Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) as the lead can be seen as a mirror of the director facing the cinematic shift within the world he knows. As the undead rise, it's business as usual to the character, being more concerned with the questions why. The world around him steadily unravels by outside forces beyond his control and Dellamorte eventually finds himself landlocked much like Soavi.

Looking at his faithful sidekick Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) as an outsider looking in, the little role reversal twist at the film's conclusion (with Gnaghi finally speaking and Francesco simply responding "Gna.") can be viewed as the outsider (or fan) taking control of the genre in memory. Soavi can longer continue due to a sea change in the industry and his genre legacy now belongs to fandom to carry on the torch. The variations of She (Anna Falchi) are the future dreams that Dellamorte hopes could carry him away from the world falling apart around him. Though much like Soavi was forced to do, Dellamorte painfully and sometimes unashamedly destroys these hopes, knowing it simply couldn't be. The credits roll over a snow globe; a trinket with the power to encapsulate a special memory to the beholder.

So perhaps Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore is the director's final meditation and gift to Horror fans the world over; he's fully aware the only work that will have a lasting power are his genre offerings. He can no longer "go home" and even if given the chance--it would probably be too painful for him to do so. Of course, I'm assuming all this, but Soavi has always been curiously guarded about the subtle meanings behind the film. I believe it's because the reasons are deeply personal. Hopefully he has found peace and I personally don't think he'll be coming back.

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