Dead and Buried review by The Grim Ringler

Recently released by indie DVD up-and-comer Blue Underground, Dead and Buried is a bit of a forgotten gem. Fairly well regarded and very well acted, this nifty little horror romp sorta fell through the cracks during the eighties and never quite found its place in the annals of horror history, thanks to this beautifully done DVD edition though fans of the genre are getting a second chance to discover a very nifty thriller.

The small town of Potters Bluff seems as if its the perfect town for tourists – set on a beautiful bay, quiet and small, and seemingly living in a age long past where life moved slowly and a smile and warm greeting welcomed you wherever you went. Things are not as they seem though, as visitors to the town quickly find out when they are set upon (no matter in day or night) by the townsfolk and are dispatched in any number of gruesome ways. And as the bodies begin to pile up the town’s sheriff (wonderfully played by James Farentino) is left with a mystery on his hands that is growing like a bloodstain. But as these people are dying there is another mystery the sheriff happens upon that may hold an even darker discovery – the first person that had mysteriously died in the town (brutally murdered after what looked like a bad car wreck that left him in the hospital) has suddenly turned up again in town alive and well and working at a local gas station. And somehow the sheriff’s wife knows what is going on. As more people disappear, seemingly murdered and their bodies taken, everyone becomes a suspect in a town whose quiet lifestyle has become deadly. As the mystery begins to unravel though, and the sheriff begins realizing that perhaps there are more dead residents in town than living, the dark secret that has been eluding him, a dark secret that involves his wife somehow, may not be one he really wants to know.

Wonderfully cast with an array of character actors (keep your eyes peeled for Robert Englund), this is a very interesting take on the zombie genre. Not at all like other movies filled with the living dead, it’s the town itself that holds the menace in Dead and Buried as each house seems filled with a brooding evil and every arrival of fog seems to hold within it some hidden threat. Playing like a macabre mystery, the strength of the film really is in its performances, which are strong across the boards, the standout being Jack Albertson who plays the town’s mortician and seems to know far more than he is willing to let on. Beyond the acting, what makes the film work is that it plays out like an old-school horror film, the moments of horror that happen being beautifully set up with a thick atmosphere and a masterful use of light and sound. Sadly, the story is one that will seem very familiar by now, as will the ‘shock’ ending, but that doesn’t seem to lessen the film too greatly, though it will hurt the enjoyment for anyone that knows the genre well. In an interview on the second disc of the set Robert Englund tells the interviewer how he approached his work in the film and how it reminded him of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, and on he’s absolutely right – the use of the town, and stiff, chilling acting of the actors as they attack interlopers into their town really does play out like that book, and again, like a classic horror film. This perhaps hurt Dead and Buried in the eighties as well seeing as how most horror films of that decade focused on serial killers, masked murderers, and over-the-top deaths. The special effects, done by legend Stan Winston¸ are all wonderfully done and work to add a very nasty air to the murders, making them all the more horrific but never becoming the focus of the picture.

The biggest fault I can find in the movie truly is the story itself that, while it’s well done, does feel very well worn by the time we are seeing it. This doesn’t make the film bad in any way but it does take away the shock value of the story and to a lesser degree dates the film. Otherwise the real drawback to the film is that this really didn’t need to be a two disc-set. I mean, does this movie need three commentaries? Really? And the featurettes, while nifty, are all pretty short and seems they coulda been slipped onto the first disc. The set is beautifully packaged though and really does show off the movie very well.

The film looks flawless and sounds very good though why they bothered with the surround sound on a film that had to have been made in stereo at best, though the sound effects sound wonderful throughout the film. There are three commentaries on the disc as well as some nifty featurettes on the special effects makeup, the making of the film and Robert Englund’s recollections from the film. The extras are nothing though that will knock your socks off; they do make a neat addition to a find film.

I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from Dead and Buried, had in fact just thought that the film would be a tepid oldie that would be good for a grin and no more and I am happy to say that I was wrong on all counts. Dead and Buried is a very well made ‘old fashioned’ horror film that actually knows how to build dread and suspense and that doesn’t rely on masked madmen to provide its chills. Not a perfect film but one I would recommend highly just the same.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
blog comments powered by Disqus