October 29, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Dead and Buried

Where has the month gone? It feels like it was just yesterday I was taking some cues from a few fine twitter folk to watch horror movies all month. Well, I am doing it, and surprisingly writing about all, or very close to, of them. It is hard to believe it is almost over. I think i am going to have to think of some other marathons to do, perhaps some film series? In any case, here I am, ready to share with you my latest viewing. It is one of the last ones before my big weekend marathon.

This time around I decided to go with a film with a good representation around the horror community and one that I have not seen in some time. It is a wonderfully atmospheric feature that has some nice visceral moments as well as a slowly unfolding story that sucks you in.

Dead and Buried was released way back in 1981 and brings together some elements of Steven King and HP Lovecraft tales, along with a little bit of John Carpenter's The Fog. It takes us into the quiet, unassuming seaside town of Potter's Bluff. It is a very New Englandy sort of place, but knowing the nature of the movie, it is safe to assume that there is an evil bubbling just below the surface.

It does not take long for the menace to appear. We open with a vacationing photographer taking some photos along the shore. He is approached by a rather friendly young lass from town. They chat flirtatiously to the point where she flashes him. Just as he is about to approach her a net is thrown over his head and he is accosted by a group of townsfolk. He is doused with gas, a match is lit and the mob watches him burn with a sinister gaze on their faces.

It is a hell of an opening and one that helps set the one for the rest of the movie. This is a strange town where these visitors are killed only to turn up later as townsfolk. It is up to the towns new sheriff to figure out what is going on. Meanwhile, the town mortician has explanations for the murders. Could he know ore than he is letting on?

This is an engrossing film that many fans of modern horror are likely to overlook due to its old school feel and methodical pacing. The performances are generally quite good and there a palpable sense of dread and unease cast like a pall over the proceedings. The cast is highlighted by James Farentino as the sheriff and Jack Albertson (from Chico and The Man) as the mysterious mortician.

It is kind if funny, the movie is capably directed by Gary Sherman and is the third film of his I have watched this month after Poltergeist 3 and Raw Meat. It is not something I intended but there it is. This one and Raw Meat are definitely worthwhile viewings, solid horror movies with great atmosphere that seem to fly under the radar a bit.

dead and Buried has an interesting production history as it went through three production companies, each one ought after the other and they all had different ideas on what they wanted. Sherman wanted to focus on the black comedy aspects hike the final involved company wanted gore. This gore focus resulted in additional kills and effects being added late in production. The effects were by legend Rick Baker, one of his earlier films, and sadly was not available for all the work, so the acid scene is notably subpar.

In any case this is a rather good movie with a nice look an effective section that should be added to your watch list if you haven't yet seen it. Also, if you watch, you will notice Robert Englund in a supporting role.

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