Sunday, 21 October 2012

Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror (1981)

Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror is a surprisingly enjoyable and atmospheric horror movie that suffers from a lot of bad (over-)acting and the presence of THIS guy

playing one of the creepiest "children" that I've ever seen onscreen. That's probably due to the fact that he was a midget already in his mid-20s when he portrayed young Michael, a boy who dotes on his mother a little too much. But more on that later.

The plot is simplicity itself as a bunch of people arrive at a villa and start to encounter some zombies. It's all the fault of a professor, he managed to wake them up moments before becoming their first victim. That's all you need to know. The characters onscreen aren't all that well fleshed out or even interesting but they're there and they're in peril and that's all that's needed.

Directed by Andrea Bianchi and written by Piero Regnoli, Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror has enough gore to appease fans of blood and viscera and plenty of atmosphere despite the many flaws. The zombies aren't the best I've ever seen but they're grimy and maggot-strewn and when heads are damaged the makers of the movie have gone for an interesting way of depicting the trauma, it's done in the style of shattering ceramic as opposed to bloody mush. There's some blood and mush on display but the shattering of each dried corpse head is a nice little touch that helps make the movie memorable.

The other thing making the movie memorable is the very strange and incestuous relationship depicted between young Michael (Peter Bark, pictured above) and his mother, Evelyn (Mariangela Giordano). The film hits all of the usual beats, in many ways, and shuffles from one zombie moment to another and then takes a massive swerve when Michael finds himself being offered comfort by his mother and trying to exploit the situation in a very Oedipal way. It's probably the most disturbing part of the whole film and certainly made Peter Bark an actor held with warped affection in the schlock-loving hearts of many genre fans.

Mind you, at least Bark and Giordano make an impression, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast. It's not entirely their fault, they are ill-served by weak material that sometimes feels like it's going to veer into softcore porn territory before it gets back on track with yet another zombie appearance. The acting is bad, the script is weak and the film isn't one to recommend to anyone who wants a wholly satisfying movie experience. Thankfully, there are some positive aspects (mainly that atmosphere and the special effects here and there) to make it worth viewing at least once and I'd certainly advise fans of zombie movies to at least make up their own minds about it.


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