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Two Horror Films from Anchor Bay

Cemetery Man (June 9/06)

Cemetery Man has, over the years, become something of a cult item, due in no small part to director Michele Soavi's blatantly over-the-top sense of style, Rupert Everett's stoic work as the hero, and a general vibe of outrageousness. But Soavi's decision to emphasize weirdness for weirdness' sake quickly lends the proceedings a distinctly interminable feel, to the extent that it becomes virtually impossible to appreciate the film's few positive attributes. Everett plays Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery watchman who's been saddled with the task of executing zombies after they emerge from their fresh graves (in this universe, dead folks come back to life within days of passing away). But Francesco begins to question his existence following a romantic encounter with a widow-turned-zombie, and embarks upon a campaign of violence and murder as a means of cleansing his soul (at least, that's what seems to be happening). Cemetery Man is clearly meant to come off as an Army of Darkness-esque horror comedy, but Soavi proves to be completely incapable of offering up anything even resembling laughs or scares. The filmmaker instead peppers the proceedings with one incomprehensible sequence after another, eschewing a linear storyline in favor of something that's far more episodic in nature (ie Francesco gets his revenge on local bullies, his assistant begins an affair with a decomposing zombie head, etc). Everett delivers a fairly effective performance, admittedly, but he's been surrounded by an astoundingly amateurish supporting cast. And then there's the enigmatic conclusion, which comes off as nothing more than a lazy cheat; that it doesn't make a lick of sense is indicative of the overall feeling of needlessness that ultimately sinks Cemetery Man.

out of

Room 6 (June 10/06)

After the release of writer/producer Mark A. Altman's last effort within the horror genre, the execrable House of the Dead 2, it seemed as though the filmmaker had nowhere to go but up. Alas, Room 6 now stands as the nadir of Altman's career; the film is a baffling, thoroughly interminable ordeal that has virtually nothing to offer in the way of suspense, scares, or drama. Christine Taylor stars as Amy, a grade-school teacher who finds herself caught up in a waking nightmare after fiancee Nick (Shane Brolly) is taken to a hospital that nobody can seem to find. She enlists the help of a concerned stranger named Lucas (Jerry O'Connell), and embarks on a quest to unravel the truth behind her boyfriend's disappearance. Room 6 opens with a disastrously inept scene in which Amy wakes up in an operating room, where doctors are preparing to cut into her - even though she's still conscious. What should have been a chilling sequence comes off as laughable thanks to the ineptness of everyone involved, particularly director Mike Hurst - who infuses the majority of Room 6 with a similarly overwrought, woefully low-rent sensibility. Far more problematic, however, is the manner in which the film deals with Amy's nightmares, as it's never entirely clear what's actually happening and what's simply a part of her imagination - with the end result a movie that's frustratingly obtuse and abstract. And while one can't help but marvel at Altman's ability to keep getting movies of this ilk made, there's no denying that Taylor and O'Connell deserve far, far better.

no stars out of

About the DVD: Anchor Bay Entertainment presents both these titles with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, along with a fair amount of bonus features (Cemetery Man comes with an extensive featurette, while Room 6 contains a commentary track and a behind-the-scenes doc).
© David Nusair