Dead And Buried (1981)


Nastiness Rating:

Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Jeff Millar/Alex Stern/Ronald Shusett/Dan O’Bannon

Could there be a GOOD Nasty? Well, yes. That’s been proven before. This one was surprising, though, in the same way that Let Sleeping Corpses Lie was surprising.

Maybe it’s not as surprising as all that because of who was involved with Dead And Buried. Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett (Alien) wrote the screenplay and Stan Winston did the special effects. So, even if one of them failed, the others would help to lift it back up. Fortunately, none of them failed here.

Dead And Buried is the story of a small Rhode Island town called Potter’s Bluff. Nothing has happened there for years when, suddenly, a young photographer is murdered, apparently by most of the people in the town. (In the most ridiculous bit in the film, he is so distracted by boobs that he doesn’t happen to notice the HUGE crowd gathering around them…on all sides.)

As Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) notices the bodies piling up, he also notices that the people in town are almost trying to get in his way of solving the crimes. Maybe not on purpose, but they certainly aren’t helping. Is the local doctor on his side? How about the semi-creepy/semi-funny mortician, William Dobbs (Jack Albertson in a pretty amazing final theatrical performance…by the way, he was Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory!)? Or even Dan’s wife (Melody Anderson, Dale Arden from Flash Gordon!)?

As time goes on, the sheriff starts to think that maybe…just maybe…the perpetrators are zombies. But who is controlling them? Who started it?

The movie isn’t particularly surprising or hard to see through, but it’s well made and pretty well acted. Director Gary Sherman (who basically took over the Poltergeist series after the second one) did a commendable job making O’Bannon and Shusett’s screenplay of Jeff Millar and Alex Stern’s story into something not just watchable, but enjoyable and worth seeking out. (It’s especially surprising when you figure that Millar’s only other credit is an After School Special called Mighty Moose And The Quarterback. Stern didn’t even have that.)

Maybe not an amazing film, but certainly worth a look-see. And Stan’s effects, of course, are great. Sure, there’s one that’s a little bit hokey, but it’s also the most gruesome of the deaths if only because it’s so creative. The hokeyness is a byproduct of the times, not the execution. It’s also the only effect NOT done by Stan Winston. He couldn’t make it back to do the shot (which was forced upon Sherman by the producers who wanted a gore film and not a dark comedy(!)), so they had to get another crew in to make the head for the shot.

Check this one out. And watch for Robert Englund, Michael Pataki (Korax from The Trouble With Tribbles!) and Barry Corbin as a some of the townsfolk.

LOW POINT: Acid in the brain!!! Definitely my favorite of the deaths.