Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) is investigating an attempted murder in the small rural town of Potter's Bluff. Things become even more complicated for him when the body count begins to rise and no one seems to have any answers. Gillis begins to learn that there is more at play here. But is he prepared to deal with his sinister findings? -summary
Released in 1981 directed by Gary Sherman (Poltergeist III), written by Dan O' Bannon (Return of the Living Dead) and Ronald Shusett,Dead & Buried is a horror film that attempts to ride the coattails of Ridley Scott's Alien. This is due to the main creative minds behind the production of that film having a big hand in this one. I don't believe Alien was that great, but I thought it was very good though, certainly better than this; with that said, come into this film ready to watch it as its own, because if you're hoping for it to be something else then prepare for your high expectations to take a dive.
Well seasoned horror fans will quickly notice how well the film works with setting the mood, by establishing a haunting atmosphere and maintaining this feel completely throughout. The film was put together with a low budget and it shows. However, they make the best of it with very well use of lighting, darkness, and heavy fog in a certain area. One scene leads into some type of a haunted house, and with the right amount of shadowing it can produce some chills. It feels dated by today's standard, but it still deserves credit for being such an ambitious project. The music score works really well with the small eerie town setting and townsfolk.
The film is stylish even down to some of the gore effects, and gore hounds will get something worthwhile here. Some of the kills work well towards shock while others are left to the imagination. The build up is done correctly enough despite the inevitable being seen from a distance, but it's the possible cause of death that grabs your attention because you know the killers are very cruel.
The plot is suspense-filled following Dan Gillis as he tries to come up with answers, plus the audience trying to figure out the killers motive. There's quite a bit of guessing to go around at first, because they come off as this territorial group; evidence points to something more than that and about midway through the film, things do become pretty clear but the revelations aren't any less shocking.
Besides predictability working against the film late in the duration, one of the problems is that it feels too ambitious for its own good. At times, and this is kind of due to the performance by the late Jack Alberston as William Dobbs; the film in some way feels as if it could have worked better as a horror comedy (and that's coming from me?!). It really felt difficult to take him seriously. I would like to give more details, but it's impossible for me to do so without spoilers. The film also has its share of plot holes working against it for those whom prefer tight storytelling.
The acting is welll done for the most part with Farentino and Alberston turning in good enough performances. Although Albertson felt a bit strange, he was still creepy for the most part delivering some dialog out of left field. Robert Englund also makes an appearance in one of his earliest roles. Many of the cast are pretty easy to watch as they seem to have down those mysterious zombie lke mannerisms.
Dead & Buried is considered an unappreciated gem by many. Personally, I think some folks choose to overlook the glaring issues. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this really isn't something I would consider to be a must see. It's a watchable horror movie, and I recommend it to serious fans for the most part. The movie has a 92 minute run time and there are also some pretty good features on the 2 Disk set. The extras consist of three short featurettes with a run time total of around 45 minutes. They feature Stan Winston discussing the special effects in very good detail, the eye ball scene specifically, as well as Robert Englund and Dan O' Bannon giving some detail on filming the movie and other cool details. It's an overall fun watch.
Pros: -Atmosphere and creativity
Cons: -Predictable and questionable plot elements
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Originally the film was going to be more of a tongue-in-cheek comedy. But the main investors wanted a horror film resulting in a lot of production tampering causing quite a few reshoots and delays in production.