Dead and Buried

Here’s a bizarre film:

I watched this last night with a friend and was impressed* by this silly, silly movie.

It follows a small town sheriff who is in way over his head trying to solve a series of murders committed by a local gang of sociopaths who pray on out of towners. They try to make the guy out to be a competent cop, but he spends most of the film showing up at crime-scenes and looking totally dumb-founded.

Without giving to much away, I would think this film was probably an inspiration for Dead Alive, as it strikes a few of the same notes - however humorlessly. The Wikipedia entry says it was originally designed to be a black comedy but the idea was dropped in favor of straight horror. It really shows, most of the movie is played straight by actors who have no business trying to play it straight.

It ends up trying so hard to be serious that it goes straight back to funny. I don’t know if I’d recommend this, I’m mostly posting to see if anybody else has seen it and what they thought.

*I’m impressed mainly by how ham-handed and poorly executed it is, but also by the subject matter and gore-factor, which while also poorly executed, made for some good laughs.


This movie justifies it’s existence merely for including the line “You can’t kill me, you can only make me dead.” My friend and I were in forced to rewind this line several times, and it only got funnier.

Funny, I remember liking (and being scared by) this film quite a lot, though I confess it’s been ages since I saw it. I should probably leave it in the past, sounds like.

Never seen it, and I doubt I will, but that’s some fantastic poster art…very surreal.

I love this movie. Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Return Of The Living Dead, Dark Star) had a hand in writing it. I absolutely adore the opening sequence, which tricks you into thinking you’re going to be watching some sort of earnest, small-town drama until they pull a nice switcheroo.

Man, how could I have missed this growing up?

Gabe, you’re way too hard on it! This was 1981, for Pete’s sake. The gore stuff was vintage early Stan Winston, and it was wonderfully goofy, except for the burn victim in the hospital. That was unsettling even by today’s standards. Freaky. Until the syringe in the eyeball, at which point it was goofy again! Phew. That lipless mouth and eyeball behind the bandages were pretty disturbing.

Also, the script wasn’t just Dan O’Bannon, but also the other guy he did Alien with, Ronald Shusett. Since Alien was just a few years early, this would have been a huge draw in 1981 if you paid attention to that kind of stuff.

Even though it avoids the straight up black comedy route, it’s still got its share of humor. How can you take seriously some of those scenes? Killing a guy by pumping acid into his face? The leering townsfolk taking pictures during their murders (what a weird unintentional antecedent to stuff like Eden Lake and El Ray de la Montana, with murders captured on cell phones!)? And Jack Albertson’s* performance as Dobbs with those crazy thick spectacles, playing big band tunes on a gramophone and driving around a vintage hearse? That was total ham.

Also, I have to say this is a significant footnote in the history of zombie movies. What a great alternate take on the concept. If you’re a fan of zombie movies, you need to have seen this.

I have to admit I didn’t see the twist coming, but I imagine these days, folks expect that sort of thing. It’s a bit funny that Blade Runner would come out a year later, with the same twist all but edited out until the director’s cut…

  • Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocoloate Factory!