I recently rewatched this cult horror classic, also known as Cemetery Man. There's so much more to it than meets the eye. Here's an explanation I wrote a few years ago on imdb. Read it right after you've watched the film.
There is a man named Franco. He used to be an engineer. His family-matters didn't go well, so he cheated on his wife with a hooker he fell in love with. He couldn't comprehend why she didn’t reciprocate his love and killed the whore out of jealousy of her clients. After the murder of the one he loved, he went insane and went out on a killing spree (7 pedestrians and his family). He is now in a hospital in a coma (an attempted suicide) and his mind tries to work out death and love (morte e amore).
This is where the movie starts. Everything takes place in Franco’s head. Franco's hospital room has no doors and no walls; he lies in the dark. This represents the coma he’s in, Francesco’s world, Buffalore.
Francesco represents Franco’s dark side, the murderer, who has taken over Franco’s mind. Gnaghi symbolizes Franco’s good side. Gnaghi likes it when the sun shines; Francesco thinks that's when the weather's gone bad. Gnaghi can complete the skull puzzle (a metaphor for death) – he understands and accepts death; Francesco cannot. Francesco is obsessed by this incomprehension, marking the phonebook up. Gnaghi burning the phonebook could be seen as his trying to help Francesco deal with death.
The ‘returners’ in the movie attack those people who can't understand death. E.g. the Mayor being eaten by his own daughter (he wanted to exploit her death to get reelected), the girl who comes to see Claudio (to ask him whether he loved her or not), ‘She’ being bitten by her husband (for having sex above his grave), Francesco being bitten by his dead girlfriend. Only Gnaghi can have a meaningful relationship with a zombified head.
The returners also symbolize Franco’s inner demons (feelings of guilt) which haunt him and which he tries to fight off. Every time Francesco is on the phone with Franco, returners appear - his guilt surfaces. ‘She’ is his worst returner – she keeps coming back, killing her was his biggest mistake. His love and lust for her brought all these problems upon him/Franco, so he wants to get rid of his wiener.
Franco denies his friendship with Francesco - he denies the existence of his dark side. When Franco tells Francesco to 'GO AWAY', he immediately leaves town. “Where do you think you're going if you haven’t yet realized the difference between life and me?”, Death tells Francesco. So he travels down the road, trying to leave Buffalore and death behind him. After they pass a tunnel (a common symbol for near-death experiences), the road ends and off its edge is the afterlife. The coffin falling over the edge reinforces this symbolism. Realizing there is no escape from his greatest mystery, death, he loads two bullets into the gun, says a prayer, and is about to kill both himself and Gnaghi, when Gnaghi awakens. Gnaghi doesn’t want to die because death isn’t a mystery to him. Therefore, he takes the gun and throws it off the edge - the good side takes over Franco’s mind. Gnaghi can now talk, Francesco can only murmur. Their positions in the snow globe switch. Now Franco has sorted out his demons and can sleep in peace.
© Oct 25 2005