I love a good mind-bending movie. There are usually two types of mind-benders: Ones that are mind-bending the whole way through, and ones that slowly unravel as they go along. I enjoy the first because it lets me think about how the film could work long after it's over (I'm still trying to decipher the ending of Phantasm), but I love the feeling of slowly catching onto what's going on. Dead & Buried fits into the latter category. It's based on the novel by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the same name, and from the few pages I've read of it, the movie follows it decently enough. Stay away from Potters Bluff, or you might end up...
Dead & Buried 1981 Review
As the film begins, we see a man ride his Volkswagen bus down to a beach to shoot some photographs. While there, he meets a young woman who asks to have photographs taken of her. He complies, and is shocked when the woman flashes her breasts at him and offers to have sex. He heads over to her when suddenly...FLASH! Out of nowhere, people are surrounding him and taking pictures of him. A few make swipes with items like shovels, but he dodges before getting hit with one. They break a few bones in his body before tying him to a pole with fisher's net and lighting him on fire with gas. They disguise the murder by crashing his Volkswagen on the de of the road with the murder victim inde and light the bus on fire, so it was all an "accident."
Sheriff Dan Gillis is shocked at all the recent murders that have been happening to vitors of his sleepy coastal town of Potters Bluff. He then begins seeing the murder victims that were already buried turn up around the town as locals. He digs a little deeper into the mystery and finds that his wife and local mortician could be in on it as well. Will the sheriff solve the mystery, or will no one be safe in Potters Bluff ever again?
Director Gary Sherman's original intention for the film was a horror/comedy, but the studio wanted to emphaze more on gore than on humor. As a result of this, the studio added two new death scenes to be shot: The drunk's at the boatyard and the doctor's. FX guru Stan Winston did the drunk's death, but wasn't around for the doctor's death, which is why it looks so fake. In fact, the body in the cast which is supposed to be the burn victim from the opening is, in reality, an incredibly life-like mechanical dummy Winston created. Due to child labor laws, they couldn't use the kid who played Jamie at night. This was difficult because all his scenes took place at night. To fix the problem, they set up a huge tent around the car and the house to make it appear to be dark outde. However, to get air to the cast and crew within the tent, they used large fans to supply the oxygen needed. But nce the fans were so loud, they had to dub all the dialogue later in the production. In a burst of creativity, the director didn't want the audience to see the color red at all during the film so when blood started flowing, it would shock the audience even more.
You'll be hard pressed to find a familiar face in the cast (with the exception of a young Robert Englund as a local), and the presence of fresh faces makes it all the more realistic. Bedes, who knew Robert Englund would go on to be a superstar of the horror genre? They're not bad actors either; in fact, they're incredibly good! James Farentino's performance as the sheriff was the best in the film, but the rest of the cast is pretty strong as well. The effects by Stan Winston were sensational, and it's sad that he couldn't work his magic for the doctor's death because that was a really foul effect. The writing by Dan O'Bannon (who would go on to do Return of the Living Dead) and Richard Shusett (who would write the screenplay for clasc films like Total Recall and Poltergeist III) is great and sticks to the book as best it can.
Dead & Buried is the creepiest film I've seen in a long time. It has a fog-shrouded Gothic atmosphere that manages to genuinely creep you out as it goes along. Plus, the poster is one of the few I've come across that actually invokes a feeling of dread in me. I don't know why, it just does. The plot (dead people coming back as locals) is oddly reminiscent of the clasc Ray Bradbury short story, "The Crowd", and I really didn't see the twist at the end coming before it slapped me right across the face. It's one of the best (and scariest) unknown horror flicks out there, and it's available in a 2-Disc Limited Edition courtesy of Blue Underground! If you have Netflix, it's currently available for streaming and I'd highly recommend watching it before "it all goes down" in September. Dead & Buried is one of those lost horror clascs you can watch over and over again without it long it's full effect, which makes it
The best of the best.
A really great film.
It's OK; has its flaws.
The power of Christ compels you to stay away from this film!
Death is preferable to this garbage.