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"Dead & Buried" is a classic horror "small town with a secret" film,
this time concerning a tiny little seaside town called Potter's Bluff.
The formerly peaceful community has suddenly been plagued by a series
of grisly murders for the town sheriff Dan (James Farentino) to
investigate. Creepier still, the murder victims reappear as walking,
talking, friendly townsfolk. And what does the eccentric town mortician
(Jack Albertson) have to do with it?
This rarely talked about flick, above all else, is a masterpiece of atmosphere...moodily lit, foggy, with a genuine sense of claustrophobia as the horrors seem to be closing in closer and closer to Dan's own home and family, especially the strange new habits his wife (Melody Anderson) has taken up lately.
All of the actors are solid enough, but Jack Albertson steals the show as the eccentric, big band loving Mortician Dobbs. In one of his final performances, he delivers a character whose unsettling realism and reverence for the dead will make you completely forget his also classic turn as the kindly grandpa in "Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory". Rather than just play this character, he inhabits his psyche and becomes Dobbs, and it shows.
Everything from the low key bits of airy score music to the often slow and dreamlike pacing of the plot, is dedicated to heightening the viewer sense of disconnection and dread, leading up to a well known sort of "twist" climax, which in this context doesn't seem hackneyed.
My only real problem with this film is that the pacing can sometimes seem jarring, with little connection to scenes preceding it, almost to the point of breaking the well crafted mood. Also, the climax was a bit too abrupt and a few more seconds of that final anguished scene would've done a lot to increase the film's overall impact.
I'd still highly recommend "Dead & Buried", as a solid reminder of what imaginative and well made R rated horror used to be, before the parade of dull remakes and tamed to PG-13 bore fests that now clutter the genre.
This is a real sleeper, although the presence of screenwriter Dan
O'Bannon's ('Alien') name in the credits automatically assures us we
are in for a treat. And this is most certainly the case; 'Dead and
Buried' is a real class act. James Farentino is excellent as the
bewildered sheriff of the small American fishing community of Potter's
Bluff. And the opening scene, in which an unsuspecting photographer is
burned alive in broad daylight, still shocks more than twenty years
after the film's release. To reveal too much of the plot would be to
spoil the surprise; suffice it to say that it involves a series of
bizarre and brutal murders investigated by Farentino's character.
Stan Winston provides some great special makeup effects; witness the particularly gruesome sequence in which a man is embalmed... while still alive! Also, Lisa Blount appears as the seductive young lady on the beach in the opening scene (she can be seen in 'John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness'), and watch out for a fledgling Robert Englund before he rose to international stardom as serial killer Freddy Krueger in the 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' franchise. 'Dead and Buried''s final twist is really kick-ass and wonderfully macabre, and it wraps up a creepy, atmospheric outing. Definitely worth a look.
Neat seldom talked about horror film made by Gary Sherman, the man who brought us Deathline, Vice Squad, and Poltergeist III. Like most of Sherman's films, Dead & Buried is laced with a rather large dose of gore. One man is beaten and burned(later to survive and get needled in the worst possible way), another is beaten and marred with fishing hooks, another hacked to death, another with acid, and you get the general picture...and you get all the details as Sherman is not shy showing us these things with the camera lens either. The story centers on these deaths and their investigation by sheriff James Farentino. Farentino soon realizes that few if any can be trusted in the not-so-quaint New England town of Potter's Bluff, and that the cause of the deaths and the mystery soon fall on town mortician Jack Albertson. The film looses some credibility with the ambiguous nature of the script but is enhanced by the atmospheric direction of Sherman and the quality performances by the cast as a whole. There are definite frightening moments in the film that will make you jump in your seat. Farentino is good in his role and Melody Anderson is adequate(certainly attractive) in her role as his wife. The supporting cast with Barry Corbin, Robert Englund, and a host of familiar faces do very nicely, but the real star is Jack Albertson in one of his last roles. Albertson gives a fine performance and is suitably creepy. His entrance down a hillside in the coroner's car while playing big band music was a scenic highlight for me. A good...not great..film that is good for some honest scares.
Gary Sherman's horror masterpiece begins with one of cinema's best
beatings (and burnings) of a fellow human being. The scene takes place
on a beach in Potter's Bluff (Mendocino, No. Cal) and is a hypnotic,
brutal, black shock to the system.
The beating is filmed by a mild-mannered pipe-smoking old man, a waitress, a mechanic and many other affable citizens of the area. It sets the scene for much grotesquery to come.
DEATH LINE (aka RAW MEAT) demonstrated that Sherman had the goods. DEAD AND BURIED cements him into the brickwork of the horror hall of fame.
Future Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) makes an appearance, as does sexy Lisa Blount from AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN. But the film's real star is the (now dead and buried himself) Jack Albertson as the coroner of Potter's Bluff. Albertson's is an eccentric, layered, career-best performance.
The tone is dream-like and ethereal. Even interiors are filled with mist. A foghorn is heard constantly. Nobody is who they seem.
A stand-out is a Super-8 home video shot by some students. Its climax provides a not unexpected revelation and the film itself perfectly embodies the horror of corruption which director Sherman is pushing.
The film did zero theatrical business because it's too damn weird for most audiences, and too damn good. But it has developed a cult on video.
Horror story full of tension, thrills , chills and restless terror. The
writers of alien, Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon , bring a new bizarre
terror to earth . Suspense/horror film set in a small coastal town in
Rhode Island where, after a series of gory murders committed by mobs of
townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back
to life . Bouts of insanity in the populace , realising a plague of
murderous madness that are leading several grisly killings . In the
little town some people begins to kill and rioting, and things really
start going to hell with this sudden death-wave . The strange events
drive its victims mad before killing them, with a difficult line
between normal hysteria and actual insanity . Meanwhile the sheriff
Gillis ( James Farentino married to Melody Anderson ) is investigating
the weird deeds , but has no tracks to what's going on. Fortunately,
the coastal small New England town has a magnificent mortician named
William G. Dobbs (Jack Albertson) , who is glad to take care of these
deaths which is good for his business . The puzzling seems to be
resolved at the creepy final packed with twists and turns .
This one is of the highest earning horror movies of the 80s and contains a good cast as James Farentino , Melody Anderson and special mention to Jack Albertson as the mysterious undertaker . Furthermore , early apparition of the future terror icon as Robert Englund and film debut for Lisa Blount . It's a solid movie , a terror story plenty of suspense and intrigue in which the victims seem to be coming back to life. Film itself takes place from point of sight the sheriff and the mortician . The living dead appearance is the high point of the movie , they deliver the goods plenty of screams, shocks and tension . The horror moments are compactly made and fast moving . It packs tension, shocks, thrills, chills and lots of gore and blood . There's plenty of moments of gore and a number of scenes that are quite horrifying , resulting to be definitely the spotlight of the film the surprising ending . This gory chiller is well made by Gary A. Sherman . Gary is an expert on action genre as proved in ¨Wanted : dead or alive¨ , ¨Vice squad¨ and terror as ¨Death line¨ , ¨Poltergeister III¨ , and ¨Dead and buried¨ , this one is his best film . Rating : 6,5 , good horror movie .
Neither an unappreciated masterpiece nor a forgotten gem, Dead and
Buried is simply a pretty respectable old horror movie from 1981.
The movie is less a plot than a figure-it-out. Early scenes have many visitors to the small town of Potter's Bluff being killed in fairly gruesome fashion by several assailants, and it is hardly a spoiler to say that several of these attackers are local citizens with standard day jobs, as this is also revealed almost instantly.
The rest of the movie involves local Sheriff Dan Gillis and his efforts to work out who is responsible and why.
That's really it...
Through the next hour or so you sorta already now how it will turn out, only a few clever but subtle changes come up meaning that even when you know what is going to happen, you almost don't.
The acting is serviceable although some of the bit part characters overact fiercely at times, including the murdered fisherman who takes drunk acting to ludicrous levels.
A very camp undertaker - Dobbs - has some left field opinions and is not afraid to share them with Dan, who grows increasingly confused as evidence piles up around him.
I won't say what sub-genre of horror we are dealing with here, as even the most minor allusion will give away the whole movie.
I can't be bothered whipping up another 600 words on a straightforward movie such as this so I won't. What we have here is a pretty basic scenario brightened up somewhat towards the end by several minor variations and twists, nothing like "Bruce Willis' wife dropping the Wedding ring" or "Samara crawling through the TV", but welcome additions to what would otherwise be a Twilight Zone episode nonetheless.
Oh, and I don't think I could finish without mentioning Robert Englund of Freddie fame is in this, it's irrelevant though.
Final Rating 6 / 10. Worth a look but it is obvious as to why this isn't mentioned in the same breath as The Exorcist or The Omen.
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Excellent Twilight Zone-type thriller is a true gem among the many
horror films of the '80's.
In the quiet little New England town of Potters Bluff a series of inexplicably violent murders has been taking place. It's up to the local sheriff to solve the horrid crimes, but that's proving to be hard, especially since the murder victims seem to still be alive!
Dead & Buried is an especially intriguing and well-crafted horror film. Director Sherman gives the film an ice-chilling, moody atmosphere. The filming locations are great, especially the rocky beaches used in the opening sequences. Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon's storyline is full of quiet uncertainty and over-whelming shocks! The music score is as wonderfully moody as the atmosphere.
One true highlight of this film is its stars. James Farentino is perfect as the mystified sheriff Dan Gillis (likely named after screenwriter Dan O'Bannon). The lovely Melody Anderson is wonderfully believable as Gillis's wife. The late-great Jack Albertson (here in his final role) is awesome as the mortician Dobbs.
Yet another highlight is the truly gory makeup FX of Stan Winston, which provides for more than one unforgettable moment in this film.
Dead & Buried is simply a classic of modern horror and is too often over-looked for lesser films of its day. A must-see for horror and thriller fans.
**** out of ****
Gary Sherman's film Dead & Buried, from a script by Alien writers Ron
Shusset and (the late) Dan O'Bannon, is a strange creature of a movie.
It's meant to reel in the horror movie crowd, but it's for a crowd of
another time period. That is, at least, the filmmaker's intention, and
it's the kind of horror movie that might have been made in the 40's
(maybe Val Lewton would've produced it, though probably never showing a
death on screen), and has a mad mortician, calmly and chillingly played
by Jack ("Grandpa Joe" from Willy Wonka) Albertson, bringing back
people from the dead and having those dead go after tourists or
passerbys who have the dumb luck to travel into town.
Sometimes the gore is meant to be emphasized, like with the death of the fisherman or the doctor who gets acid poured on him. The latter of these is a terrible scene, not just because Stan Winston wasn't involved in the effect (you can tell), but because it's done too much and the camera lingers a little too long. Dead & Buried is helped by it being surreal: the opening scene where the guy is photographing on the beach, comes across the woman and starts to take pictures "for Playboy" and then is overcome by a horde of people also flashing pictured and filming and is killed by fire, is something out of a pure nightmare (you almost expect someone to wake up, but no one does). When it sticks to this dead-undead thing, of the hints at witchcraft and the eerie performances by the Sheriff's wife and some of the townspeople like Robert Englund, make it worthwhile.
Dead & Buried is not what you expect, which is a good and not-so-good thing. It's low-budget and atmospheric, and its ending is a bit of a WTF twist that seems unnecessary. But there's a lot of interest here, a lot of weird effects with cameras and crowds of the undead. Just don't go expecting the usual flesh and guts show, despite what the film's own distributors thought at the time.
It didn't occur to me until my later years, when I became an avid 'credit
reader,' to make the connection between DEAD AND
BURIED and two other low-budget gems that totally blew my mind: the
gorier (but not by much) DEATH LINE, released in the U.S. under the
appetizing title RAW MEAT, and a nasty-but-nifty little cop thriller called
VICE SQUAD, which has the distinction of sporting quite possibly the
smarmiest, most memorably evil performance that Wings Hauser ever gave in
his entire career.
The gore ante has been upped so much at the movies nowadays, that you literally have to take the top of somebody's head off to get a rise out of the audience, (see HANNIBAL). But there was a time, either when we were more naive, or when lower budgets demanded it, that directors of low-budget horror fare knew that if you were going for the gross-out, you had to make it effective to scare the bejesus out of moviegoers. Gary Sherman was one of the few talented directors who knew this, and he went to town on my nerves with this, which I saw for the first time on video many years ago.
Some of the plot points maybe as murky as the atmospheric photography is at times, but one thing is certainly made clear: TV-friendly character actor-turned-spooky-town M.E. Jack Albertson is definitely up to no good. Travelers and transients who are innocently passing through the little, picturesque seacoast town where he plies his trade, are being found horribly murdered, only to be resurrected...as townies! Voodoo is somehow involved, as are some of the most violently graphic dispatchings commended to film for that time period.
James Farentino and Melody Anderson, known mostly for TV movie appearances (and in Melody's case, FLASH...aaaa-aaahhh!) do serviceable jobs as the town sheriff and his wife, who become more embroiled in the mystery than they'd like, and Robert Englund joins the proceedings, usually making his formidably creepy presence more than welcome, (until he came into his own as Freddy). But this is definitely Albertson's baby, and he relishes breaking out of his casting niche after all those episodes of CHICO AND THE MAN. Good thing, too, since it was one of his last performances. Sadly, as it is with most talented character actors, he was never recognized for his stage work as much as what he left on film, but his D&B role is a nice antithesis to the kindly Grandpa George in WILLY WONKA.
Also: Dan O'Bannon wouldn't be able to catch the lightning-in-a-bottle he captured with ALIEN again, until his severed-tongue-in-cheek rendering of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, his playfully amped-up homage to George Romero's masterpiece.
FOOTNOTE: D&B's releasing woes had nothing to do with its low-budget status. The original releasing company, Vestron, went belly-up and had to file for Chapter 11 more than once, leaving movies like this in limbo until the legal problems could be satisfactorily settled. It took a while for the video release, but it was worth the wait.
Oh, and no matter how mind-boggling the gore gets, you'll still want to watch it twice, just to see how you missed being clued in on the head-spinning climax!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For some inexplicable reason this splendid, compelling, atmospheric
little zombie mystery thriller took a while to be rediscovered (it
received a spotty theatrical distribution when first released and got
mixed reviews from critics), but thankfully with its being reissued on
DVD it's been widely acknowledged and rightly heralded as an off-beat
minor masterpiece of early 80's cinematic small town perversity ala
"Blue Velvet" and "The Stepfather." No question about it; the plot's a
real whopper: friendly, dependable sheriff James Farentino investigates
a troubling rash of brutal murders which upsets the drab tranquility of
the heretofore sleepy seaside hamlet Potter's Bluff. The premise may
sound a little thin, but there are several socko surprises deftly
delivered throughout the picture as it ambles along at a deceptively
leisurely clip towards a great, jarring, truly unpredictable
Director Gary ("Raw Meat," "Vice Squad") Sherman keeps the ambiance wonderfully tense and creepy, expertly milking the rundown and uniquely unsettling coastal community setting for maximum skin-crawling eeriness (in this respect "Dead & Buried" takes its honorable place alongside Curtis Harrington's fine "Night Tide," the stand-out sexy Euro chiller "Daughters of Darkness," Matt Cimber's deeply upsetting "The Witch Who Came From the Sea," and John Carpenter's supremely spooky "The Fog"). The murders are shockingly graphic and sadistic, but never gratuitously so (Stan Winston did the excellent grisly make-up f/x, which are highlighted by an especially nasty hypodermic needle in the eye gag). Joe Renzetti supplies a beautifully lilting, dolorous score. Steve Poster's misty, shadowy, all faded dingy colors cinematography greatly enhances the potently blood-chilling gloom-doom mood. The clever and original script by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shussett (who previously collaborated on "ALIEN") stacks the deck with a few crackerjack plot twists and an agreeable amount of quietly hilarious black-as-midnight gallows humor (e.g., one crazed local yokel repeatedly exclaims "Welcome to Potter's Bluff!" before killing someone). And the tip-top cast really hits the spot: "Flash Gordon" 's Melody Anderson, underrated B-movie ingénue Lisa Blount, Barry Corbin, the ever-sleazy Michael Pataki, a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund, Tim Burton's onetime main squeeze Lisa Marie in a bit part as a doomed hitchhiker, and Jack Albertson, who in his final film role gives a lovely, touching, gracefully understated performance as a sweet, doddering old mortician. A real dandy sleeper.
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