I’m recovering from a sickness. This particular sickness saw me feeling the compulsion to try to collect every possible version of every movie that I loved. It was especially bad when I frequented horror conventions. I would buy VHS dubs of foreign laserdiscs for $20 each, or the wonderful bargain of three for $50. I’m not sure how many uncut or extended movies I watched with burned in Japanese subtitles this way, but I probably spent a small fortune.
It didn’t get any better with the rise of the internet and got a whole lot worse when the DVD era was in full swing. I’m not really talking about upgrading from one format to another, but instead buying multiple copies within the same format for a new extra, transfer, or worse, alternate packaging. Sometimes the new package is so impressive that the double dip is understandable. 2004’s Ultimate addition of Dawn of the Dead was well worth it, but I still can’t figure out why I also own the single disc release of the first part of that collection.
Although, without obsessive purchasing of multiple copies of the same movies, today’s entry would have never been discovered.
I first saw Cemetery Man when I taped it off of Showtime in the mid 90s. It immediately became a favorite of mine, and so began an endless search for different releases. Over the years I’ve accrued at least six copies.
While on this quest for additional scenes, content, or increased clarity, I found something curious. On one particular DVD, after Gnaghi vomits on the mayor’s daughter and runs away (about 30 minutes in), his face turns a violent shade of red right before he falls to the ground. Not like a sort of embarrassed shade of red, he was about the same shade as Elmer Fudd after being embarrassed by a cross-dressing Bugs Bunny.
The exact same takes appear to be used in every version I’ve seen, so I don’t think this is an alternate cut or anything. But there is some sort of cheap looking video effect as he turns red and falls in a sort of slow motion out of the frame. This raises an important question: why did this happen?
It’s such a confusing shot. Why is it only this release? Is this how director Michele Soavi intended the scene to play out? If that’s the case, why does no other release have this? I can only assume that this is not the way it was supposed to look as it’s so much dopier looking than the rest of the film. But that only makes it more confusing. Why did it happen here. There’s no way that it happened on accident. Somewhere, someone thought that this movie would be better if Gnaghi’s face turned the color of a cartoon tomato. Who takes on the authority to make that kind of decision on someone else’s movie. And really, why would anyone go through the trouble in the first place?
In the end, I think I’ll blame it on the same person who thought an appropriate title for this movie would be Mi Novia es un Zombie (Spanish for My Boyfriend is a Zombie). Since they must be referring to Valentina, the only character who actively pursues a zombie boyfriend, I’m going to assume that someone thought she was central to the story. In which case, the re-titler could have thought Gnaghi just wasn’t showing sufficient embarrassment by running away and rolling around in the middle of the road. A beet red face would be needed to convey the emotion necessary to drive this scene home.
When it comes down to it, I’m glad I own it as a curiosity piece. I’m still completely baffled by its existence but have come to appreciate it enough to put it in my curious collection. I just hope this isn’t the first way anyone experiences the movie.
And for those who may be concerned about the sickness I described earlier. I am, in fact, in recovery. I also think that I’ve discovered the cure for anyone else who finds themselves spending far too much money on various editions of the same films. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve gotten married, had four kids, and bought a house. It’s amazing how many fewer copies of Dawn of the Dead I’ve bought since then. I can only vouch for myself, but it might work for you too.