DEAD AND BURIED (1981)
80s horror written by Alien scribes Ron Shusett and Dan O’Bannon seems to have developed a reputation and a cult following since it’s unremarkable release back in 1981…but is that rep and following well deserved? In my opinion…not really.
The story finds a series of murders perpetrated against visitors in the small town of Potter’s Bluff and the efforts of Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) to solve them. The more Gillis investigates, the more bizarre a direction the evidence seems to lead him. Worse still, the more it starts to appear the locals he’s known all his life are not who, or what, they seem and the town’s kindly mortician (Jack Albertson) might be at the center of it. Will Dan be able to solve the case, or will it be the death of him?
Flick has an atmosphere that is a bit unsettling throughout and a nice visual style, but that’s all director Gary Sherman (Vice Squad, Poltergeist III) accomplishes, as his direction is rather flat. He creates no suspense for the proceedings and no impact to the gory kill sequences. All the victims are introduced moments before their deaths, so they are just subjects for Stan Winston’s gore effects. Sherman also evokes very little in terms of performance from his cast and while the townspeople’s trance-like demeanor might be on purpose, that doesn’t explain everybody else. The dialog is terrible at times and the basic story of a strange little town where out-of-towners are offed with bloody regularity, is nothing new, though, the climactic revelation is a bit spooky and different. You can at least give it that.
There is a good cast here which, aside from Farentino and Albertson, also includes Melody Anderson as Gillis’ wife, and familiar faces Lisa Blount (Prince Of Darkness), Barry Corbin (WarGames) and Robert Englund (Do I need to tell you where you’ve seen him?), but they aren’t utilized to maximum effect and it’s a shame. With it’s premise and the direction the story leads, there could have been a really good movie here, had the film been in hands that had a better idea of what to do with it.
An odd little movie that doesn’t quite accomplish much else than being moody, atmospheric and weird though, Buried is still off the beaten path from the run-of-the-mill slasher flicks that were popular at the time. By today’s standards Dead And Buried is quite dated, tame and slow moving, but for horror fans it’s definitely worth a curiosity viewing, just don’t expect the hidden classic some make it out to be.
rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) hypodermic needles.
WARNING: Trailer is graphic and contains spoilers if you haven’t seen this flick…