Dead & Buried (1981)
AKA Dead and Buried (1981)
(Release Date: May 29, 1981)

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The Zombies are Back and Want to have you for Dinner!
But not in the "Scary" sense... I mean they want to invite you over for a meal!
As, like, a guest... that's it! They're nice Zombies, man!
Well, like, of course, AFTER they kill you, you know!

The UnBURIED Critic!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

The advent of the "Zombie Film" came well before Romero and company gave us Night of the Living Dead. Before the Rotting Corpses aspect of Zombies came to the forefront, zombies were fleshy automatons much closer to their Voodoo Brethren than the anarchic hoards we know now. Generally the old Zombie flicks (like White Zombie or The Last Man on Earth) would feature a group of mindless drones following the every order of a single wizard or madman with a special redeadening voodoo curse.

If you'll pardon the expression, that style isn't quite dead yet, or at least, wasn't in 1981. This was the year that Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon (the writers of Alien) brought us
I like her, she's very... Earthy!

The French Guyed it up!At least the Japanese left it Chicked Out!
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Dead & Buried, an unconventional and scary Zombie thriller that, while ultimately falling prey to predictability in a hindsight rife with "Surprise-Twist-Endings", still packs some legitimate scares today. Directed by Poltergeist III's Gary Sherman, Dead & Buried has that pre-classic zombie flick feel, while incorporating elements of Salem's Lot and The Stepford Wives! However, it never once feels derivative, even if the film falls short of perfection by a country mile.

Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) of Potters Bluff, USA is concerned by the fact that visitors to his little town seem to turn up dead, which doesn't do a whole lot for the local tourism industry. Actually that's a lot like saying that Jaws didn't do much for the tourism industry of Amity, but I digress. What Sir Daniel of Gillihad doesn't know is that the perpetrators of these grizzly murders are his very constituents. There's the occasionally topless Nurse Lisa (Lisa Blount), his buddies Ron (Dennis Redfield) and Harry (Robert Englund), and then there are innumerable other people who just keep showing up day after day in the town... and they look just like the dead people that fell victim to the hapless hamleters.

Dan has no idea WHO to trust, especially when the finest and most upstanding man in the city is the local mortician (Oscar Winner Jack Albertson's William G. Dobbs), who makes Lurch from The Addams Family look like Fred Rogers. Luckily Danny-boy has his loving wife Janet (Melody Anderson, Dale Arden from Flash Gordon), who is as loyal as she can possibly get... except for the books on witchcraft and voodoo she keeps in her thong drawer.

Dude, is anybody not in on this whole "Zombie" thing?

While I'm with you on the fact that this movie is pretty damned predictable, it's not your basic, garden variety horror film, either. The Zombie Hoards seem to be in remarkable shape and in remarkable command of their faculties. But when necessary, the nasty is busted out like a trump card during a game of drunken spades, courtesy of legendary Makeup Effects Designer Stan Winston. The effects are effectively shocking, and nicely convincing at the same time. The acting, directing and effects do make up for a predictable little movie that is almost as well-lit as Carlsbad Caverns during the night-time scenes. And even if you know it's coming, that ending is a fantastic and satisfying exclamation point to a creepy and scary little film.

This one is an all-but forgotten little gem that is getting a second look due to a classy DVD release from Blue Underground. It's well worth a look for fans of Zombie movies who don't confine their definitions to teeny little boxes (by aaron pruitt). Three Stars out of Five for Dead & Buried. It's not perfect, but it's pretty damned cool. For fans of O'Bannon's Zombie flicks, and Shusett's, um... well... Ron Shusett flicks it's a must see... and compared to Shusett's King Kong Lives it's The Godfather. So until Ol' Ron heads up the writing on a remake of The Devil's Rain, and releases it through that gravestone they call "Platinum Dunes", I'll see you in the next reel. And then I shall Rise Again like Lazarus after Jesus Wept.

Yep, that's going into my 4th and 5th Grade Sacramental class lecture, this coming Wednesday!

Part The Stepford Wives,
Part White Zombie,
Part Night of the Living Dead.
And that's just THIS CRITIC!
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Dead & Buried (1981) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is solely responsible for his own views and
for the fact that he never really considered himself a "Joiner" for these very reasons!
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