The cult flm CEMETERY MAN came out on DVD this week, so I thought I’d post my review of the film here.
This was written back when the film came out in 1994; it’s been slightly expanded, since the original was condensed due to space constraints when it was published in Cinefantastique magazine. A week or two before the DVD came out, I got an offer to promote it on my website — maybe even get a screener copy for a review — but I took a pass because I just could not work up any enthusiasm for seeing the film again.
I’ve never been a fan of this movie, and I find its cult popularity somewhat perplexing. Consequently, I’ve developed a theory to explain this strange phenomenon — which all boils down to this:
It’s a great movie to see at a party, stoned.
What I mean by this is that the narrative is pointless and boring, absolutely in capable of sustaining interest or attention for feature length, but there are great images that erupt from time to time. So it’s easy to imagine a group of friends sitting around the television, higher than a hot air ballon, not really paying attention to what’s on the screen, talking among themselves, taking another hit, and then every once in a while noticing a zombie getting shot in the head, provoking the addle-headed viewers to shout, “Look, look! Dude, this is great!”
I have only one small piece of anecdotal evidence to support this theory: I had some friends and aquaintences who watched a bootlet copy of the film on home video and thought it was great — while they were at home with easy access to their stash. I told them it sucked, but they wouldn’t believe me — until it came out in art house theatres a few months later and they saw it again, without easy access to their stash. Most of them wouldn’t talk to me about it, but the one who did admitted, “You sure were right about that film!” I’ve always appreciated his honesty.
I can’t say everyone who likes this movie must have a brain fried on artificial stimulants, but if you look at some of the commentary about it on message boards around the Internet, you will sense a kind of thinking that we normally associate with college freshmen who’ve just smoke their first joint and think they’ve discovered the secrets of the universe. (Think of the Tom Hulce character in National Lampoon’s Animal House, and you’ll know what I mean.)