DEAD AND BURIED. It has been staring me in the face, screaming
"review me, asshole, c'mon!" for a good 3 months. I
don't know what it is, I like the movie, it is very competently
done, the story is notches above what usually garners a review
on this site, the acting is actually "acting" performed
by actual "actors" and it is a somewhat under-appreciated
movie from a time in American cinema that I simply love, the 80s.
So what have I been doing putting off this DEAD AND BURIED? Okay,
I talked myself into it...
Fresh off their new found success, "Alien" writers
Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon (heavily rumored to be fond of
youngsters and whose artwork has graced the pages of Finger
magazine a pedorists periodical from the mid 70's) dive headfirst
into 80s horror here on Earth with DEAD AND BURIED. 5.9 million
dollars later director Gary Sherman, who 10 years earlier had
brought us the EXTREMELY unnoticed, but excellent "Raw Meat,"
gets the tap to put this very smart script to work. Throw in TV
stalwarts like James Farentino, Jack Albertson, Chris Allport,
Melody Anderson and a bit part by the man who would be Freddie
& future coke-addled day-rater Robert Englund, set it in New
England for an aire of mist and mystery and ka-boom, you got your
formula for DEAD AND BURIED.
Allport's Freddie the photog gets the piece rolling by clicking
off a few frames of typical New England seascapes (the film was
actually shot in Mendocino, California) when a rather nicely built
gal shows up and offers here modeling services. This Chris Allport
character is no homo (he played the VERY gay Nicky in Savage
Weekend) so he is more than a little tickled with the offer.
It doesn't take long before our gal Lisa, we find out her name
after a little name game the two play, decides that her top needs
to come off and she asks Freddie if "he wants her."
Lisa snags his camera pops off a shot of Freddie and before his
eyes adjust a band of barnacled locals are all over him like spandex
pajamas. Crowbars, shovels and some old netting help bring Freddie
to a tree where is is bound, and in a rather harrowing and extremely
well-done sequence the locals soak him in gasoline and gal strikes
a match frying Freddie alive as his own camera records the scene
a frame at a time. The locals show very little emotion as Freddie
screams in sheer agony. They take snapshots, and film the whole
DEAD AND BURIED starts with an incredible scene, maybe that is
one problem, there are plenty other deaths scenes that are gorier
and uncomfortable to watch in the movie including a hitchhiker
who gets her head caved in and we watch mortician Albertson piece
together her head and face in a surprising realistic fashion but
the first scene is so dynamic, well-lit and downright brutal that
I felt just a tad let down as the film progressed. The effects
are handled by mastergeek Stan Winston who handled Aliens and
Terminator 1 & 2 and was in on Jurassic Park, and you can
tell that a far amount of the budget went to the gruesome killings
and rebuildings. Another asshole puckering effect is the classic
hypodermic in the eyeball as the badly burned Freddie, who we
have found out is actually a guy named George, cannot scream because
he has no lips.
I once again feel inclined to let the plot of this one rest in
the review because it is nicely written and well executed. Jack
Albertson's portrayal outshines everyone, he was a man who had
garnered a Best-supporting Oscar, a veteran of a top-rated sitcom
and probably best-known from one of the most beloved "kid"
movies ever "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
as simply "Grandpa." His character, William Dobbs, the
mortician, listens to classic jazz from the 40s, makes his entrances
in showboaty, flamboyant style and delivers most of the "important"
dialogue. He has the job of giving us, the audience, the information
we need to figure out what is going on, he also gives us the information
that may convolute what is actually taking place.
"Welcome to Plotter's Bluff" mutters one of the locals,
and the film is effective in transcending you into this little
seaside community. There is a foreboding mood to the film, Farentino's
Sheriff is not the dimwitted, easily fooled type, although we
find out his wife, portrayed by "Flash Gordon's" Dale
Arden (Melody Anderson), has been having some sort of affair behind
his back, he knows something is amiss. Is it supernatural, why
are the townspeople so aloof, who can he trust except Dobbs, who
seems to want to figure out why so many strangers seem to be meeting
their maker in this sleepy little town? James Farentino is an
intriguing actor, obviously good enough to carry a film the level
of DEAD AND BURIED but definitely not a leading man with proven
big-screen draw. A choice that was interesting for a film that
had a rather healthy budget. The marketers felt that they could
use the recent success of Aliens by using the tried and true "From
the Creators of..." as opposed to using a "star"
in the lead. Farentino has over 75 credits to his name mostly
made for TV movies and appearances in everything from Route 66
to ER and Melrose Place. His brushes with Johnny Law (the police,
Poindexter) have included the Canadian Mounties intercepting a
package with over 3 grams of snort that was being sent to his
hotel room while shooting a TV movie and at one point in his stellar
career he was charged with stalking Ol' Blue Eye's daughter, Tina
Sinatra. Jim has bagged an impressive array of tinsle-town cuties
and has divorced a couple of Prof. Tread's made for TV faves,
Michelle Lee and Debrah Farentino (who was named one of PEOPLE
Magazines 50 Most Beautiful People in 1995). Farentino is on his
way to induction into the BOF Hall of Fame, which is just teeming
with other Coke Hound Skirt Chasers!
You cannot pigeonhole DEAD AND BURIED very easily, it has elements
of 80s slash, TV-grade suspense, a different take on the walking
dead and is more akin to a full length Twilight Zone episode than
most of the films released during the 80s. The most amazing thing,
is that Sherman somehow pulls it off. It actually muddles itself
into a very bizarre ending that even includes a self-burial. It
is not all together hard to figure out what might happen at the
end but just when you think you have, you are drilled with one
last bit of information which results in a rather nice payoff.
Isn't that all you can really ask for in a "horror"
film, a nice payoff? Mr. Sherman looks to have the tools to play
in the big leagues of exploitation and he proved it just a few
years later by delivering the ground-jolting "Vice Squad"
arguably Wings Hauser's best picture and definitely the best "white
pimp" pic I have ever seen. Sherman also penned and directed
Poltergeist III, the movie that killed Carol Anne for real. Sherman
is still working in TV as a writer as you read this. Sherman had
to shoot more of the gorier tidbits after the initial finish of
the film to drive home some of the more spohisticated plot elements,
it was the 80's and the success of the slasher film had audiences
demanding more high-tech grue. Sherman delivered, with Stan Winston's
crew creating some of the best killings ever seen up to the point
of its release. Another interesting aspect is the snuff footage
that is shown in the climactic ending scenes, most of the gruesome
murders are all filmed buy the perpetrators on grainy black and
white fillm, it adds a very creepy element to an already creepy
If you find yourself looking for a slightly offbeat horror film,
give DEAD AND BURIED a shot. It might be a little too good for
most rubber-creature fancying fan-boys and that is too bad because
it is damn effective. If new millennia horror ripped off more
of this good script work as opposed to the 80s shit that was written
over a weekend maybe "true" horror might actually return
to the big screen. Shit, there I go again trapped in that fantasy
world of mine where substance over style matters to someone. God
damn, I am old.
|She is so cute and
cuddly and decaying.
|Dobbs is on the
scene at a "filming"
Discuss this baby.
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