Let's get things straight from the word go - Gary Sherman's 'Dead and Buried' is an American horror classic. Massively underrated and often ignored by the bulk of the horror community (though for the life of me I will never understand why?), this 80's shocker still stands as one of the most atmospheric horror films of its time.
The film opens in a misleadingly subdued manner on the beach of small town Potters Bluff, where we see a visiting photographer taking pictures of the local wildlife. As he pans his camera across the sedate panorama his lens stops on a beautiful young blonde woman posing enticingly for his pleasure. Captivated by her charm (and her flashing of breasts!) he moves in for some more adult wildlife snaps...then from out of nowhere he finds he is surrounded by a group of the townsfolk, all armed with an array of cameras and weapons! he's then grabbed and tied to a post then swiftly covered in gasoline and set on fire, whilst the locals all get down to snapping the bizarre horrific scenario. And so the scene is set...
Soon more mysterious murders follow and local sheriff James Farentino (blind to what's going on around him) gets down to the business of trying to unravel the mystery of what's really going on. But as he gets deeper into the underbelly of the mystery he soon discovers that there's a lot more to the residents of Potters Bluff than he ever could have realised! Soon he starts to wonder about his own growing paranoia, who can he trust? Perhaps not even his own wife?! And what about the oddball curio that is the towns mortician Mr Dobbs? Is he just a quaint old coot obsessed with his work or someone more sinister?
Right from the offset 'Dead and Buried' lulls you into a false sense of security with the pleasant flowing imagery of Sherman's direction and the sedate melody of Joe Renzetti's score. And continually when you've settled into the comfort zone the film grabs your senses and shakes them up with some truly unsettling moments of terror. All of which is the end product of an all round classy production and performance from all involved. Cast wise, Farentino is splendid in the lead role of the sheriff emotively pulling you into his paranoia and desperation and Jack Albertson is perfectly cast in the role of oddball mortician Dobbs with an impressive performance of a man that enjoys resculpting dead bodies whilst lost in the tunes of Glenn Miller. Cameo freaks will enjoy noting a pre-Freddy Kreuger appearance by Robert Englund as one of the murderous locals.
The plot is definitely a modern horror classic, at times genuinely unsettling with a finale that delivers a suckerpunch that anyone new to the film wont see coming (and a cracking ending it is too!) The feel of the movie is very much akin to an American variation of the classic 'Wicker Man', a policeman out on a limb with a sense of foreboding alienation in what should be a welcoming small town atmosphere. Whilst the 'Wicker Man' is perhaps the stronger of the two titles (with a more extreme powerful impact with its religious/anti overtones), 'Dead and Buried' still manages to capture the same essence albeit with a pseudo black magic theme and is worthy of any genre fans attention and addition to their collection. The film showed great hope for the future of classic horror cinema but what followed in the more commercial mainstream market of the 80's not only let the side down but brought upon a bland overkill of the horror scene leading to a stagnant period in the genre and a missed opportunity. A great shame.
But as ever I digress, the new remastered Special Edition from Dragon is a very welcome release and bizarrely whilst no US producer has seen fit to pick this classic up for release (and why the hell not?) this is in fact Dragons second visit to this particular title. One of their early releases (a mere two years ago but how time flies!), 'Dead and Buried' initially was met with mixed reaction. On one hand fans were pleased to see the film get its rightful DVD release but at the same time some corners were slightly disappointed by the bare bones presentation and a somewhat grainy soft print presentation. Have Dragon revisited the film with the goods to impress fans now? Sure. First things first, the print here is indeed a definite improvement on the earlier release though there is still indications of some grain on the image throughout. The image is stronger and more stable but still not the definitive pin sharp image that fans would love (it does look like the earlier release print has been utilised and tweaked for a somewhat improved picture quality). The 2.0 audio is solid and clear enough throughout with no noticeable hiss or the likes. So in general, not a groundbreaking remastering but an improvement none the less.
On the extras front things have taken a jump in the enjoyment stakes - the old German trailer from the first release shows up once again along with an old US release trailer, both interesting to see but neither any great shakes on the print front (though I'm more than happy to see them included!) Interestingly, there's an extensive text interview (in English) with director Sherman that is full of fascinating details not only about the production of 'Dead and Buried' but his career as a whole (I for one hadn't realised that this was his first movie in years following hibernation since making the classic 70's cannibal shocker 'Death Line'). Also included are the usual extensive filmographies section and a lovely flowing stills gallery backed by the films theme.
Also of note from this release is the very attractive packaging with the disc housed in a fold open digi-pack which also houses a 16 page glossy booklet on the film (in German), all of which is contained in a tasty wraparound slip case. The design and graphics of which beats hands down the bulky unattractive packaging that many other companies use for their so-called special edition releases (you know who!)
If you've never seen 'Dead and Buried' then now is the time to go do so. As mentioned earlier, this is a modern horror classic and Dragon's special edition is a fine package indeed! Forget your 'I Know What You Screamed Last Urban Legend' movies - see what a real horror film is all about...and yeah, welcome to Potters Bluff!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Dragon Films|
|Region 0 (PAL)|
|Running time - m|
|Ratio - Widescreen|
|Audio - Dolby|
|Theatrical trailer, Galleries|