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Cemetery Man

Anchor Bay
Movie B-
Special Features C-
DVD Geek Factor 5.75 (out of 10)

This one has become a cult classic since its 1994 release. While some passages in this movie are certainly enjoyable and appropriately disgusting, it falls somewhat short of being a classic, in my book. Still, it offers plenty to enjoy for those who like their movies sick and twisted.

Rupert Everett, before becoming a Hollywood sweetheart, plays Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery caretaker dealing with an epidemic that turns dead people into zombies within seven days of their demise. When zombies show up at his door in the middle of the night, he casually dispatches them with a revolver while chatting with a friend on the phone. Killing zombies has become as routine as digging graves; it's just part of the job.

When a beautiful widow (Anna Falchi) commits the unfortunate act of having sex with him on her dead husband's grave, the annoyed spouse kills her, creating a difficult situation where she comes back for more, zombie-style. Director Michele Soavi's work comes off as a sort of Sam Raimi/Lucio Fulci combination. The film goes from fast-paced horror comedy like The Evil Dead into stomach-churning Italian horror-movie violence like Zombie. Sometimes, the transitions are a little clunky.

The funniest stuff in the film concerns Francesco's "simple" assistant, Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), a hulking character reminiscent of Tor Johnson of Plan 9 From Outer Space. He has a tendency to throw up on pretty girls, and when the latest victim of his vomit shows up in the cemetery after a motorcycle accident, he claims the head off the corpse, and they fall in love.

For gore hounds, this one has a couple of decent carnage scenes, including some bites reminiscent of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. The low budget is very evident in the bloodletting scenes.

The movie goes a little crazy toward the end, perhaps trying to do too much as Francesco's insanity becomes evident. This is a semi-fun horror comedy splatfest, but far from great.

Special Features: A documentary featuring the director and stars reminiscing on the origins of the film. Apparently, everybody was quite shocked to have Everett on board.

Strangers With Candy: The Complete Series

Paramount Home Video
Show A-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 9 (out of 10)

If you failed to buy the single season DVDs, or missed this one on TV, here's your chance to get all of the shows for a pretty decent price. The great Amy Sedaris stars as Jerri Blank, 46-year-old high school student and former crack whore.

After a prison stint and some issues involving drugs, Jerri heads back to school in what works as a great spoof of those silly, preachy after-school specials. Sedaris is hilariously revolting as Jerri, one of the greatest female TV comedy characters since Lucy. This is an actress who isn't afraid to look ugly, a feat she accomplishes big-time with this show.

Stephen Colbert is killer funny as a teacher with a sexual secret, as is Paul Dinello as the object of his affection. The list of cameos includes Winona Ryder, Paul Rudd, Andy Richter and Will Ferrell.

A long-in-the-can film version of the TV show will finally be hitting screens in a limited release this summer, so those of you still mourning the disappearance of Jerri might soon be getting a fix.

Special Features: It combines all of the features from the complete-season editions, so in other words, it's loaded. Commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers, interviews and the complete unaired pilot are among the treats. The DVDs come in a nifty case that looks like a Trapper Keeper.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape: Special Collector's Edition

Paramount Home Video
Movie A-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Anybody squawking about how terrible of an actor Leonardo DiCaprio is should take the time to watch his work as Arnie, autistic brother to Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp). Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive beat him out for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and that was a travesty.

This is also the film that pretty much established Johnny Depp as a serious actor, with his career taking off after this one. The film follows Gilbert as he deals with life in a small town, including an affair with a married woman (Mary Steenburgen), his 500-pound mother and Arnie's penchant for climbing the town water tower. Juliette Lewis, John C. Reilly and Crispin Glover also star.

The great thing about DiCaprio's work here is that it is completely honest, portraying a handicap without making it a caricature. This film (along with This Boy's Life that same year) established the kid from Growing Pains as a major talent, and he's yet to deliver a bad performance.

Special Features: A commentary from director Lasse Hallström, and numerous good featurettes on the characters of Gilbert Grape and the film's legacy. Depp (with his Captain Jack Sparrow beard braids) offers up an interview, where he calls DiCaprio a good kid who grew up to be a "dashing young man."

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