Dead & Buried (1981)

Dead again

And so, I think for the first time (you’ll have to forgive me, Picturenose has splendidly reviewed *so* many films now, I am losing track ;-)), we venture into the realms of the infamous video nasties, the tabloid term that was first applied, circa 1982, to films that were slammed in the UK by various MPs, Mary Whitehouse, tabloids and religious groups (of which many, customarily, did not feel the need actually to watch them) for their violent content, as Blighty’s home-rental video market blossomed. In fact Dead & Buried (1981) by US director Gary Sherman (who had previously made the excellent Death Line (Raw Meat) (1973)) was never actually prosecuted as a ‘nasty’, but was banned for a time before being released with 90 seconds cut in 1990, then uncut in 1999.

I mention it here because, unlike a good deal of the other films to feature on the list, Dead & Buried was in fact very far from being very crap – and, aside from Sherman, when you see the talent behind it, that should come as little surprise.

It starred Melody Anderson and James Farentino, and its screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, who as writers were responsible for no less than the original Alien (1979) and, while it does have more than its fair share of wince-worthy grue, is in fact a very surprising, suspenseful and well-crafted tale of witchcraft and terror set in the small New England coastal town of Potter’s Bluff, where Sheriff Dan Gillis (Farentino) is drawn into a diabolical scenario involving multiple murders and much, much worse. Along with Gillis, the local coroner-mortician William G. Dobbs (Jack Albertson) is seemingly at a complete loss as to any motive for the killings, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not advisable to trust *anyone* in town…

I have such a soft spot for this one, largely because it was one of the biggest ‘gotta-see’ pics of my teenage years, populated as they were by similarly ghoulish (and great) friends, who only wanted to see the goriest, most horrifying films available. And yet, and yet, this transcends mere gore, largely because it is so very well directed and written, and has a twist that, even after all these years, stands up as one of the genre’s very best.

Can’t give you the full movie, you’ll have to do your own homework on that one, but here is the trailer for your hopeful delectation. Enjoy. 🙂

94 mins.

3 thoughts on “Dead & Buried (1981)”

  1. We can rely on you, James, to get visceral. 🙂 I had no idea it was the Alien writers – it may indeed be far from crap, I’ll need to give it a look, I reckon. Total agreement with ‘many, customarily, did not feel the need actually to watch them’ by the way. In my home town, Life of Brian (1979) was banned up until around 2005 – gawd knows what they’d have made of this.

    Oh, and why is it always New Hampshire?

  2. Hey Colin,

    Indeed, someone has to (get visceral, that is), and you really should check Dead & Buried out – my guess is, even though it’s rooted somewhat in early 1980s’ sensibilities, hairstyles and fashions, you’ll love it 😉 Yes, I can’t tell you the joy that discovering this in our ‘best’ local video store, Mac’s Video, brought to me and my chums – it was surpassed only by Mac’s being the sole provider of a certain other ‘video nasty’ that was perhaps *the* best of those movies that provoked the outrage of the self-appointed ‘moral guardians’ of the time, namely Sam Raimi‘s seminal The Evil Dead (1982) (also due a review, methinks, hint, hint ;-)).

    And is New Hampshire the same as New England, where Potter’s Bluff is located? If so, yes, I take your point, creepy stuff does tend to happen around this locale in US films. Maybe it’s a Lovecraft thang, what do you think?

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