Welcome to a new feature here at Horror Squad you can expect to find every Wednesday and Friday. It's called I Would Have Saved/Killed and it goes like this: one of our writers will pick a character, big or small, from a movie and explain how they, for whatever reason, would have altered the fate of that character.

Don't worry, we will never spoil anything pre-jump, though obviously everything after the break is operating under the assumption you've seen the film to the right, so be warned. And a big tip of our hat to Arbogast on Film for inspiring us with his post The One You Might Have Saved.

Hit the jump, where we'll talk about one of my favorite films of all-time -- Michele Soavi's beautiful Cemetery Man.

: Valentina Scanarotti

Fate: Dead

Cause of Death/Method of Escape: Tragically decapitated in a motorcycle accident, but she returns as a severed head who falls in love Dellamorte's assistant, Gnaghi. Unfortunately, a bullet to the skull puts her down for good.

Verdict: I would have saved her.

Reason: Getting to choose a character like Valentina is one of the greatest parts about the whole I Would Have Saved/Killed column. Where else can you spend a few hundred words not only talking about Michele Soavi's brilliant Italian horror film Cemetery Man, but also about why one of the peripheral characters should have lived?

Valentina, played by Fabiana Formica, is the bratty daughter of the local mayor. Her first encounter with Gnaghi, the endearingly bizarre cemetery assistant at the Buffalora Cemetery doesn't end well. In fact, Gnaghi is so smitten with Valentina that he pukes on her. If that weren't bad enough, she then flees the scene on the back of a motorcycle, which runs into a bus full of boy scouts head-on. Since the dead don't stay dead at the cemetery in Buffalora, Gnaghi knows his beloved will be coming back and he frees her (or more accurately, her severed head) from its final resting place. Being dead has given Valentina a change of perspective and she now realizes that Gnaghi is actually the right guy for her. The odd couple share a charmed romance -- he feeds her pasta with banana slices and keeps her head inside his blown out television set. This domestic bliss could have gone on forever, if not for Valentina's father. The mayor shows up at the cemetery -- not at first realizing that his daughter is still alive -- and Valentina calls to him so she can ask for his permission to marry Gnaghi. He refuses and she gnaws out his throat. Unfortunately, Dellamorte then puts a bullet in her brain and Gnaghi's one shot at love ends in tragedy.

My reasons for saving Valentina have little to do with her and more to do with Gnaghi. François Hadji-Lazaro's Gnaghi is a loveable simpleton (and may be something of a savant) who you can't help but like. He doesn't talk much, his hygiene is questionable at best, and he's not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but he's an incredibly charming character and I tend to find myself wanting him to have a happy ending. Maybe I'm just a big romantic at heart, but there's something touching about the relationship between these two strange characters, and the scene after Valentina's death, with Gnaghi sobbing on Dellamorte's shoulder, is heartbreaking. Plus, had she lived, it would have been interesting to see how she figured into the film's incredibly philosophical climax and how things might have changed between her and her beloved.

It's a shame we'll never know how that might have turned out because Valentina doesn't live til the end of Cemetery Man. In a film about love and death, it seems almost fitting that it ends the way screenwriter Gianni Romoli and director Soavi have conceived. Cemetery Man's ending is perfect and one of my favorite sequences in any film, so I'd be hesitant to change it in any way, but I do ponder a few things. Dellamorte and Gnaghi flee Buffalora, but as they emerge from a tunnel they find that the road ends abruptly. The caretaker slams on the breaks to avoid driving off the precipice and Gnaghi bashes his head on the dash and passes out. Dellamorte then posits that the rest of the world doesn't exist. When Gnaghi eventually comes to, he's able to speak. He asks his friend to take him home, only to discover that now Dellamorte has become the one who can barely speak. Soavi then cuts to the two characters as little figures in a snowglobe. The ending is rife with existential implications, but the idea that Ghanghi and Dellamorte have somehow swapped roles is interesting. Thinking about how that might have been affected had Valentina lived adds a whole new wrinkle. Would this smarter Gnaghi have been repulsed by his bride? Would Valentina have been changed by going through the tunnel too? Or maybe they'd have still been in love after everything was said and done. I kinda like that third option -- man and severed head zombie love truly conquers all.
categories Features, Horror