Dead and Buried (1981)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This horror oddity, an attempt to update Twilight Zone-styled spookiness with a splash of early '80s gore, doesn't fully achieve this aim, but remains worth a look for hardcore horror buffs. The best element of Dead and Buried is the intelligent script by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. They populate their bizarre story with intelligent, believable characters and dole out the clues to the film's central mystery in a way guaranteed to keep the audience offguard. The film also benefits from slick direction by Gary Sherman, who crafts the film's shocks with bone-chilling verve. Highlights include the thoroughly unsettling prologue and a suspenseful nocturnal chase scene where a lost family stumbles into a seemingly deserted house that turns out to be full of killers. Unfortunately, lead actor James Farentino gives an uneven performance, going overboard on his character's hysteria near the end in way that reduces his character to a cartoon. However, Jack Albertson steals the show as the morbid but witty Dobbs, clearly relishing the chance to cut loose on such a bizarre role, and the support cast is full of familiar character actor faces like Barry Corbin and a pre-Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund. In the end, it's easy to see why Dead and Buried never found a big audience. It is too plot-heavy for those viewers in search of a shock machine, yet too visceral for the viewers who appreciate subtle horror. Despite this problem, Dead and Buried contains enough solid shocks and offbeat moments to make it worth a viewing for fans of creepy cult movies.