Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the cemetery caretaker in the small Italian town of Buffalora. He lives in a ramshackle house on the premises, constantly surrounded by death, with only his mentally handicapped assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) for company. Young punks in town spread gossip that Dellamorte is impotent. His hobbies are reading outdated telephone directories, in which he crosses out the names of the deceased, and trying to assemble a puzzle shaped like a human skull. Gnaghi, whose interests include spaghetti and television, can speak only one word: "Gna. "