August 20, 2011

Dead & Buried (1981)

"A suspense horror film set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life."

Many years ago I had the book of "Dead & Buried" and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I didn't have much choice really as the DPP had included the film in the infamous list of "Video Nasties" and there was no way of seeing it.

Even though it was re-released uncut in Britain in 2004, it has taken until now for me to watch it thanks to Netflix. I wasn't disappointed either as it still holds up very well 30 years on. The opening scene in particular has a massive surprise for anyone expecting a run-of-the-mill '80s horror.

Starring James Farentino, who you might recognise from "The Possessed" (1977) and "Dynasty", as the sheriff of a small town, plus a lot of other well known American TV actors from the time, "Dead & Buried" is undoubtedly derivative of a lot of other "small town with a secret" mysteries, especially "The Stepford Wives" (1975), but it has a lot more atmosphere than most.

There is still some controversy over whether or not Dan O'Bannon actually wrote any of the screenplay or just allowed his name to be added to it after the success of "Alien" but it's still a pretty good script anyway. The dialogue is a little bit sparse and the characters don't have any depth to them but you'll discover that there's a good reason for that at the end.

Some of the scenes are a little bit disjointed but it's really no different to a TV movie in style and most people wouldn't notice. Gary A. Sherman may not have been the greatest director in the world especially as "Death Line" (1973) was his only claim to fame before this film but he did a competent job here.

Of course, the best reason for watching "Dead & Buried" is to see the late Lisa Blount being deliciously sexy and evil as a nurse. She was also in John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" (1987) but her most famous role was in "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982) which I know we've all watched at some point even though we probably won't admit to it in company.

You'll also spot Robert Englund in a minor role before he was to become famous for being Freddy.

Everybody plays it straight in spite of the story becoming even more far-fetched than "The Wicker Man" (1973) so it's one of first real horror films from the '80s rather than the comedy-horrors which eventually took over and ruined the genre.

The only major fault with "Dead & Buried" is that the twist ending is very predictable if you've watched a lot of "Twilight Zone" episodes.

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