Dead & Buried (1981)

AUGUST 9, 2008


My buddy Mike had been pushing his screening of Dead & Buried a bit more than usual, and I didn’t understand why. I had never seen it, and neither Bruce Willis OR Chevy Chase had nothing to do with it, so how good could it possibly be? Well, shit Earl, it’s fucking great. It’s becoming an increasingly rare event when I see a movie so enjoyable that it makes doing this Horror Movie A Day stuff worthwhile, but when I do, it’s all the more sweet.

It kind of reminds me of Messiah of Evil at times, what with the creepy atmosphere, the non-zombie zombie town, the doomed hero, etc. It’s just the type of movie you don’t see quite enough – where they take a fairly silly concept and not only milk it for all its worth, but play it mostly straight (apparently it was actually intended to BE a comedy, but they pulled a Sudden Death* and shot it the scary way). The result is something pretty original, always entertaining, and just plain delightful.

One high point of the film is seeing all the future “stars”. Robert Englund is the most prominent in terms of cast and future career (this was before Freddy though – his role was an actual actor’s role and not a gimmick-y cameo like some of his later stuff), but Barry Corbin also pops up as a local. Corbin is best known for Northern Exposure (and now No Country For Old Men), but to me he’s the head of the family in Who’s Harry Crumb, John Candy’s Fletch ripoff that featured Shawnee Smith at the peak of her hotness (a peak that she has actually maintained for almost 20 years now, if you ask me). But the big one for me was Glenn Morshower, aka loyal agent Pierce from 24. He’s like, I dunno, 25 here, but I recognized him instantly. He’s only in a few shots, but it’s still funny to see him so young. And Prince of Darkness’ Lisa Blount plays another of the town “zombies”, who shows some skin and has a blond ‘do that will satisfy those who disliked her strawberry locks in Darkness (I am not in that category). Someone named Lisa Marie is also in it, but it’s not the Lisa Marie anyone cares about, so that doesn’t count.

The score is also fantastic. Some of it sounds a bit ripped from Friday the 13th (which came the year before) but it’s very haunting and surprisingly soothing as well. I bet it’s on one of those CDs that cost 50 bucks at Fango cons, but if not I will be picking it up someday. Stan Winston’s effects are also impressive, no real surprise there. There is one gag that stuck out though – the hero rips a piece of a zombie woman’s cheek off for no real reason. You wouldn’t think much of it, until you realize that the director of Dead & Buried is none other than Gary Sherman, who also directed Poltergeist III, a film with it own inexplicable buccae-based removal.

One bit baffled me though, due to a flaw in the film print. Our hero discovers what’s going on when talking to the “bad guy”, and then runs outside and confronts a few of the zombie people before running off. Then the film skipped and suddenly he was back with the bad guy, where he received even MORE twist-y info (I don’t want to spoil anything, because it’s not as well known as the movies I usually spoil). The way that the film was cut made it seem like this was a flashback, not the next scene. But either way, I have no idea why he went back there. Mike let me borrow his DVD but I haven’t had time to go through the commentaries (there are 3!) yet to check it out.

I did watch the 2nd disc, which was interesting but not really worthy of its own disc. Stan Winston, Robert Englund, and Dan O’Bannon (2nd O’Bannon film this week!) each get their own 15 minute interview/recollection, mixed with film clips and some behind the scenes photos. All great stuff, but it could have been put on the 1st disc. Scam! It's sad to see Stan too, the interview is only a couple years old and he shows zero signs of ill health or anything. His interview is done in front of a bunch of his designs, and you only have to look at a single frame of it to be reminded of how much he has contributed to genre movies over the past 25 years. *Bows*

If you haven’t seen this one yet, I highly recommend it. It’s from 1981, but it feels right at home with some of the more classic but lesser-known 70s gems.

What say you?

*Sudden Death was written as a parody of Die Hard type movies, but Van Damme and Peter Hyams didn't quite get that, I guess. Which is why there's a scene of Van Damme fighting a guy in a big mascot costume. And why the movie doesn't make a goddamn lick of sense.


  1. What a fuckin' great movie! I dig everything about this flick. It even has Dale from Flash Gordon!

  2. Great movie.

    I own an original VHS of this one, bought from when the video stores sold their old stock. I bought it in 85 or 86 I think!

  3. I saw this film a few years after it was released, and thinking back on it I think it still holds up as damn good. I love the last five minutes of the film. I'd recommend it for a good night of creepfest viewing.

  4. I love this film... I actually went searching for it here to find your opinion.

    My disc has no commentaries. Got to get my hands on a more recent release!

  5. My favourite of the 'nasties' I've seen so far!

    There's a bit where the town undertaker / post mortum cosmetologist is rebuilding someone's face and I swear I have NO CLUE how the hell (from an FX point of view) they did the but where he stretches the eye open to pop a replacement eyeball in - it's phenomenal! Too realistic to be a dummy, to flush to the face to be an appliance... I'm stumped!


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