Friday, 3 January 2014

Dead And Buried (1981)

Dead And Buried is a great little horror movie. It's one of those films that's just so much fun, it's a campfire tale of a movie, an E.C. comic on screen and none the worse for it.

Things start off with a horrible murder and then get decidedly odd as we see people walking around who should be staying very still due to them being mortality-challenged, according to the information that the local sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) is receiving. Is there a conspiracy going on in the town? Voodoo hoodoo perhaps? Or does the local mortician (played by Jack Albertson) have some secret that he's managed to hide from the sheriff?

Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon wrote the script, based on a story by Jeff Millar and Alex Stern, and the publicity at the time made the most of the fact that these men were responsible for crafting the script of Alien. This is, of course, a very different type of movie but it's handled just as carefully and paced perfectly.

Director Gary Sherman mixes some proper shocks (which gained it enough attention to get it tagged as a "video nasty" back amidst that particular furore) with lashings of atmosphere so thick that you can almost smell the saltwater-mist as it rolls through the screen.

The acting is pretty top-notch from everyone involved. Farentino is very good as the leading man trying to figure out what's going on in his town but it's Albertson who steals the show as the mortician with a real pride in his work, often accompanied by his favourite big-band music. Other faces of note include Robert Englund, Barry Corbin (a tiny role but always good to see him), Glenn Morshower, Christopher Allport, the lovely Melody Anderson and Lisa Blount, who makes quite an impression with her limited screen time.

Perhaps it's a movie that feels a bit too cheeky by the time the end credits roll but it's a fine mix of black comedy and outright horror that I feel does just enough to assume the viewer is onside right up until it reveals it's punchline. It's a fun ride but also has moments of real horror there. It has a fine pedigree (Sherman had previously directed Death Line while Shusett and O'Bannon had given us that killer xenomorph) and I think that most fans should love it.


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