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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 gruesome scene.

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 picture.

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.

Welcome Wagon!

Dobbs is on the scene at a "filming"

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Gas prices were way down in 1981...so they filled up!

Is that Mother Nicky from Savage Weekend? Yes it is.

Now we are talking...smile, click, click. Prrrrrrrrr.

Freddie the photographer is caught in a web of deceit.

Robert Englund manning Kodak InstaMatic.

Some great effects from Stan Winston make D&B even better.

James Farentino gets jiggy with "the man" Jack Albertson.

See, now that looks like it hurts.

The needle and the damage done...ouch!

Great camera work by Gary Sherman's crew elevates D&B.

Dobbs is chemistyerizing something.

This gal got stoned. I mean rocked. I mean beat to death.

Welcome to Plotter's Bluff. The "snuff" crew is ready.

Farentino's fingers....eeeewwwww!

Interesting B/W "snuff" footage.
Brains On Film 2003