Dead & Buried (1981)

Dead & Buried (1981), directed by Gary Sherman.

Ordinary folk of a fishing village -- equipped with an assortment of cameras -- are brutally murdering visitors who later come back to life (?) as contented locals. The sheriff is mighty puzzled. Further: he has reason to suspect his wife of... what? It is a "fear of morticians" story.

I read the novelization of this back then but never saw the movie. Apparently no one else did, either. I had more refined tastes when I was young and figured it would be too cheezy. I missed a odd, moody little horror film, something of Roger Corman, maybe some John Carpenter, revive an old "Tales from the Crypt" comics genre plot, and add a cinematographer with a good eye.

Although in a contemporary setting, it has an old 1940s wartime ambiance, with those dark greens and browns and Doc's big band music. For all the terr-o-rama, it has a sad, poignant moment in the graveyard: "Bury me".

Some gruesome but amazing practical effects (big needle, eyeball) arranged by Stan Winston. Originally banned in the UK as a "video nasty". The project was owned by three sets of producers and the last crew insisted on editing and reshoots for less comedy, more gore. One really bad effect (acid up the nose) was done after Winston was gone.

About the only comedy remaining is from Jack Albertson's eccentric mortician/coroner. This was his last film and he died just after completing his voice work. He was ill and medicated during production but it doesn't show in his performance. He knew what was up and I wonder if this last project amused him?

Also with Melody Anderson who everyone thought would become a big star. Flash Gordon (1980) was done but not yet released and it flopped too.

Early views of Robert Englund, Barry Corbin, Lisa Blount and Glenn Morshower.

When Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon met one had the first part of the Alien (1979) script and the other rights to Total Recall (1990) from a story by PK Dick. They helped each other with their stories. Alien (1979) (my favorite!) became a smash hit and "changed everything" for horror properties. Based on that they got to do this film and then (before it flopped) Total Recall (1990).

Everyone in the commentaries regrets the meddling of the "Third Entity" in reediting the movie. (They won't name names). The AVCO Embassy distributor thought the original cut was fine, but that's gone now.

Filmed in Mendocino CA.

Available Blu-ray from Blue Underground. I'm not seeing much high definition detail, but that would be difficult with this one. Much of it is filmed in the dark and uses all sorts of filtering and fog to give the town a soft fishing port look.

Three commentary tracks, and three extras featuring Stan Winston, Dan O'Bannon and Robert Englund.