1981 is strongly starting to feel like an incredibly poignant year in horror and strangely another classic cult feature had slipped me by.
I intend to right this wrong this year and finally took the time to sit down and watch Dead and Buried, and straight off the bat, I can see why it is revered so highly.
Right from the get-go, the opening scene pulls you in as we follow an amateaur photographer visiting the small town of Potter’s Bluff. He quickly becomes enamoured by a beautiful woman along with an invitation to copulate.
The photographer becomes ensnared and what starts out as a moment of sexual intrigue swiftly leads to his ruin when he is ambushed by some of the townsfolk, who beat him and set him on fire. As if that ordeal was torture enough, the photographer somehow survives, only to be finally put to rest by the temptress who visits him in the hospital dusguised as a nurse.
It’s a gripping and horrifying sequence that hangs heavy on the mind and wrongfully shafted the feature into the video nasty category.
It’s the raw approach to these harrowing scenes that force the viewer into the dark world lurking in the shadows of a remote American town.
This isn’t even the masterstroke of the film however, as director Gary Sherman (Death Line, Poltergeist III) guides us through Dan O’ Bannon and Ronald Shusett’s screenplay via Sheriff Dan Gillis’ (James Farentino). Gillis is drawn to the increase in murders that are sprouting up in town and enlists the support of eccentric mortician, Dobbs (Jack Albertson) to unearth those responsible. In doing so though, Gillis finds himself falling down a rabbit warren of death and despair, and curiously (although perhaps not surprisingly considering O’Bannon’s involvement) the discovery of reanimated corpses.
As Gillis descends further into his investigation, the behaviour of his wife Janet (Melody Anderson, who will always be remembered fondly as Dale Arden in 1980s Flash Gordon), adding to the bizarre things that continue to occur.
The final blow when it happens is a killer moment and one that leaves the rug firmly pulled beneath Gillis’ feet and us the audience along with him.
If you’ve not seen this movie before, I highly recommend it and it firmly confirms to me the genius mind of O’Bannon, who keeps on impressing with his writings of the Undead.
Oh and it boasts an early performance from a certain Robert Englund in the mix too.
- Saul Muerte