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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.
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 ****
*** 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.
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.
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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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 ***
After reading so many positive reviews about 'Dead and Buried', I felt
like giving it a try and my try didn't go in vain. D&B is one of the
most influential zombie horror films of its time, whose plot still
seems fresh. Gary Sherman has done a great job as his characters 'come
to life' and stay credible throughout the movie. I bet Gary has got
midas touch. The film doesn't rely on a big budget to prove its worth.
What scares a viewer to death in 'D&B' are the characters who turn up
alive after being murdered in previous sequences. If you are looking
for an eerie set-up, foggy and silent nights, spooky town, strange
people, hacked but twisting arm, syringe-poked eye, and a crazy
re-animator, then Ladies and Gentleman....WELCOME TO POTTER'S BLUFF'.
The film deserves a 10/10 for its lingering nature. You won't forget
anything about it even after 10 years and I promise, you'll take this
to you graves.
Dan Gills (James Farentino) is the friendly Sheriff of Potter's Bluff, a small coastal town. He lives a contented life with his wife Janet (Melody Anderson), who is a school teacher. It so happens that a certain itinerant George (Christopher Allport) is caught by some crazy townspeople and is murdered in a gory fashion. However, George survives, but before he could tell anything to Dan, he is murdered by one of the female assailants right under the nose of Dan and Doctor Joe (Joseph Medalis). George's murder is soon followed by the murders of a vagrant and a young lady backpacker. A family traveling through Potter's Bluff is attacked by some townspeople in the middle of the night. That's when Dan has his first encounter with an assaulter. During all these days, Dan had been discussing the murders with Dr. Dobbs (Jack Albertson), who is apparently Potter's Bluff only mortician. Dobbs is often sarcastic with Dan. Little does Dan know that Dobbs is working on a hidden sinister agenda. Dan's wife Janet had been behaving strange lately. She comes home late at night and it looks as if she is holding a secret. So what's her secret?; and more important, what's the secret of Potter's Bluff? Does this town really teach us 'A New Way to Live'?
Unlike other horror movies, D&B doesn't go around silly teenagers or campfire tales. This is no silly or cheesy stuff. Farentino as well as other characters including a younger Robert Englund have shown the viewers one of the highest crests of the American cinema. Farentino is great as sheriff and so are Melody and other actors, but one who really steals the show is Jack Albertson, with great portrayal of Dobb's character. You want Dobbs to be secretive and he is. You want Dan to be sincere in his efforts and he is. You want Melody and several others to be a part of this fishy scheme and they are. The end comes like a big surprise as the viewers are baffled and forced to think whether they should really believe what they just saw. This movie is credible with its tight plot, effective screenplay and matchless atmosphere. Potter's Bluff reeks blood and has everything a horror addict would ever need; a great set-up, deserted beaches and orphan boats, old-style agoraphobia inducing hospital corridor, freaky café with strange customers, uninhabited houses, rainy hillsides, old truck, foggy nights, and finally a scheming cold-blooded re-animator who is about to take over the town with his re-animated creations. D&B with its great atmosphere is capable of bewitching anyone who wants a relentless dose of atmospheric horror. This film has 80's written all over it and seems obsessed with the quality horror of its time. Simply unmissable!
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