Dead & Buried is one of the greatest underrated horror films of the 1980s. That moniker gets thrown around for every other horror movie by anyone that ever saw anything between 1980-1989. However, it’s true here. For the British readers, this film was one of the original Video Nasty titles. The rest of the world won’t remember it, because this movie died a brutal death upon its initial theatrical exhibition. Why is that?
The sheer volume of people that don’t know Dead & Buried is quite sad. History has been kinder to it via re-examining Stan Winston’s early FX work on the film. Plus, Jack Albertson turns his final live-action theatrical role into quite the outing. For the Disney purists, I know that Fox and the Hound was his last actual movie, but I’m only counting physical performances. There’s something about his fragility onscreen that adds to the weird mortality issue he’s working through on camera.
When Dead & Buried came back into geek fashion around the time Tarantino referenced it in Kill Bill: Volume 1 is when Blue Underground dropped it on DVD. I picked it up from Borders, since I had never seen the film uncut before. To even date myself further, AVCO Embassy movies were largely the domain of TBS and Encore Movie Channel back in the day. The first time seeing the movie uncut didn’t really add anything for me, but Dead & Buried stuck with me the older I got.
Gary Sherman is a horror director that gets a great deal of love from Blue Underground. His directing debut Death Line aka Raw Meat has quite the Blue Underground release. It’s only when going through the special features on that disc that it sunk in that Sherman wasn’t British. The director has this almost Amicus flare that would have felt way more comfortable working alongside Freddie Francis or Roy Ward Baker.
Naturally, America dimmed his light with the walking atrocity that was Poltergeist III. One day, I’d like to see Sherman get the chance to bring his cut to audiences. But, people are kinda ruining the appeal of alternate cuts after one too many bites at the apple for DC. Ultimately, what is the big takeaway of this movie? I mean other than don’t trust suspicious nurses with syringes?
When watching these underseen 80s horror films, I start to wonder a certain thing about Dead & Buried. It takes the premise of what would have been a Creepshow segment and stretches it to 94 minutes. So much of the middle of the movie just drags. How much about Potters Bluff are we supposed to care about as an audience? Get to the heart of the matter and quite teasing the audience.
Now, horror movies are all premise and nothing else. It’s like cinematic storytelling can’t have it right in the middle without losing everything.
Dead & Buried comes to 4K UHD with way more new special features than I expected. Blue Underground is one of those indie powerhouses that tends to brings all of the special features on their first release pattern. But, they’ve also been going back and creating new interviews, commentary and related featurettes for the 4K era. Plus, they went a step further and added a CD soundtrack and a booklet.
What sets this release of Dead & Buried apart is that the 4K transfer is impressive, but also shows off the worst of the cinematography aesthetic. Certain shots play super dark, while others seem washed out to give it that dreamlike feel. Steven Poster approved the restoration of his original cinematography and it remains true to the original exhibition. However, the sheer volume of darkness is going to bother casual viewers. I enjoyed it and I guess that’s all that matters.