Dead & Buried
By: Craig Villinger  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
All Regions, PAL. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). English 2.0. Force Video (Australia). 90 Minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Gary Sherman
Starring: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Lisa Blount, Dennis Redfield, Robert Englund
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Make up FX: Stan Winston
Y ear: 1981

In this reviewers humble opinion, Gary Sherman's Dead & Buried is one of the truly under rated classics of the horror genre. Released in the early 80's amid a wave of cheap slasher films and imported Italian cannibal and zombie gore-fests, it somehow got swept aside and never quite achieved the same status as other films of its time. So what's it all about exactly?

James Farentino plays Dan Gillis, sheriff of the peaceful seaside town of Potters Bluff, where nothing much happens and everyone is incredibly polite to each other and all that crap. Or so it seems... A visiting photographer is burned alive while snapping a few "saucy" shots on the beach, and shortly after that a dirty old vagrant is graphically sliced and diced by an odd looking group of locals who seem to have a strange penchant for standing around and taking photographs of their actions. Things get even more complicated when it appears as though some of the recently deceased are not quite as dead as we thought, and Gillis begins to suspect that the entire town is acting a bit loopy, including his own wife, a school teacher who is filling her students in on the finer points of voodoo and the black arts.

I could go into more detail here, but that would perhaps spoil the experience for those who haven't seen the movie. The plot features numerous twists and turns, something that is somewhat uncommon for a film of this sort, and screenwriters Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett (Alien, Total Recall) deserve full credit for trying to inject something different into what could have been just another standard horror thriller. Director Gary Sherman manages to create some very atmospheric sequences and gives us a few decent frights along the way (even years after first seeing it, the "Corpse in the car" scene managed to scare the absolute life out of me!) while splatter lovers will not be disappointed with the level of gore on offer, with some very graphic throat slashings, eye ball piercings and much more courtesy of FX legend Stan Winston.

If you haven't seen this one yet, watch it as soon as possible. The neat little twist in the end had some horror fans saying "Boring, I saw that coming a mile off" but I must admit that I was caught completely by surprise and thoroughly enjoyed it. A highly Recommended film!
Video
The tone of this review has been quite positive so far, but unfortunately it's pretty much all downhill from here. The film is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio without the benefit of 16x9 enhancement. At best the image could be described as "average", however during its lesser moments the transfer quality could only be described as "appalling". There are some nasty compression problems evident, and the image appears so grainy at times that it is hard to make out what is going on, particularly during the films darker scenes. There is minimal attention to shadow detail and colours seem fairly dull, with flesh tones occasionally looking unnatural. In all honesty, this is one of the worst transfers I have ever seen, which is quite a shame since this is such a great movie.
Audio
The only audio option is a 2.0 stereo track. When compared with the image quality, the sound isn't all that bad, although that isn't saying much. Dialogue is easy to understand, and the score helps add a suitable "punch" to the movies shock scenes. There did appear to be some minor audio sync problems at times, but problems like this seemed almost inconsequential given the discs poor image quality.
Extra Features
Only a "teaser" trailer that runs when the disc first starts up (unless you count "scene selection" as an extra, which I don't).
The Verdict
Coming up with a final evaluation for this disc is a slightly difficult task. The film itself is outstanding and is well worth a look, however the presentation of the DVD leaves a lot to be desired. At the time of writing this review, the only other DVD releases of Dead & Buried were the two Dragon Film Entertainment releases from Germany, which apparently feature fairly poor audio and video quality themselves. Hopefully a superior release of this horror classic is somewhere on the horizon, but in the meantime, the fairly cheap price tag may make the Australian version of Dead & Buried a good option for those waiting for something better to come along.
Movie Score
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