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Buried Alive
(a.k.a. Beyond The Darkness & Blue Holocaust & The Final Darkness)
(1979)
 

Director: Joe D'Amato            
Cast:
Kieran Carter, Cinzia Monreale, Franca Stoppi, Sam Modesto


Special guest review!

By Jason Alt

 

I seem to have done it again; this time I am fairly sure I have a gift, a sort of 6th sense if you will. Without having done any research whatsoever, or talked to anyone about the film, I can stroll into any major rental chain, and walk out with a zombie film made in Italy. If you haven’t read my first review, Is music by Goblin "beyond the darkness", hmm?I suggest you do eventually so that you can sort of get a little scenario of what my life is all about. I watch these God-awful pieces of trash, and as if that weren’t bad enough, I make my friends watch them too. My latest rental, Buried Alive was by a complete accident. I had seen the over-sized display box a few times in the video store, and my preconception was that it was terrible enough to watch.

Apparently even though you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can for videos. As soon as I popped it in to the VCR and the music started up, I cringed. I turned to my friend who was watching with me for moral support. “5 bucks says this music is by Goblin.” Sure enough I was right, but somehow that didn’t make me feel good. In fact, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of dread. I suddenly didn’t want to watch the rest of this movie, and I had only seen ten seconds of it.

The movie starts out by introducing the protagonist and by showing that he is a taxidermist. Then it shows him fiddling around with some formaldehyde, which is obviously going to be integral to the plot, but it does little to explain anything. Nor does it explain the next scene which features a wooden faced woman watching an old gypsy stick pins into a voodoo doll of a woman who is shown to be the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the protagonist. It explains even less when later on, the protagonist and the same wooden faced woman, who apparently live together, meet up in a bedroom, and the protagonist starts sucking on her nipple (it may sound sexy, but it’s like watching your grandparents do it.) This scene makes even less sense when you consider the fact that the hero’s woman has just died.

So naturally, it’s time for him to go dig her up. An earlier scene featured him injecting the fluid into her neck at her wake. An old man happened by and saw him straddling the body plunging a needle into its neck. Of course the man does or says nothing to anyone else, preferring to take it upon himself to begin a vigilante crusade that involves him breaking into the protagonist’s house twice to snoop around. She is dug up with little effort, and he digs a two foot hole before striking the coffin lid. He is seen standing shin-deep in a hole opening the lid even though the scene where she was buried showed the pall-bearers lower her into a 6-foot hole. Stranger still, the girl’s father asked the funeral home director to look after the body, and he promised that he would. He doesn’t, however, catch the hero in the act of grave theft. Perhaps he was too busy breaking into his house to notice the hero dig up the body and drive off in a fire-engine-red van and get a flat tire 3 feet away from the gate.

The movie is most ridiculous in the sense that the motivations behind the main character are never clear, nor are they explained. There is no rhyme or reason for him the hero to shack up with a frankly unattractive, creepy-looking woman who associates with Gypsies when he has a really hot girlfriend. (She is way too good for him, it’s really discouraging.) There is no reason for him to, when having sex with a really hot jogger (also too good for him), throw off the blankets covering the preserved body of his dead girlfriend, then kill the jogger when, shock horror, she looks over and sees the body. None of these things make any sense, and it is hard to understand any of the plot.

The music is really wretched. It does not belong in this kind of film, but that doesn’t seem to bother “The Goblins” who apparently do the entire soundtrack for these kinds of movies all the time. The frenzied pace of the techno music doesn’t match the pace of the scenes in the slightest, and is as out of place as Sammy Davis Jr. at a Klan meeting. It is ridiculous, and the songs (if you can call them that) are all exactly the same as the ones in every other movie for which they have done the soundtrack. This leads one to believe that there was absolutely no consideration as to how the music would work in the scene; the same jingles are used for multiple films, all with extremely different plots.

The acting is wooden. There is no other way to describe acting that is absolutely bereft of feeling, character development or clarity. One gets the feeling that this film was directed, casted, lighted, acted in, and even had doughnuts brought to by people who are filled with nothing but utter contempt for film making. This movie is nothing but a gore fest, so corners were obviously cut. But the fact that the movie is utterly all about excuses to cut people up and dissolve them in acid is no excuse for the acting to be of poor quality.

The only instance of anyone actually being buried alive occurred at the very end of the movie. It occurred under ridiculous circumstances when you find out that the dead girlfriend has an identical twin. The film just declined to mention that earlier which sets the whole thing up like a soap opera. Either the character has an evil twin, or they die but one lock of their hair is left so they are cloned, or their death was a dream sequence. The whole incident is a terrible back door for the directors, and makes the whole film even more ridiculous.  

The one redeeming quality for the film is the gore. It was most certainly a gore-fest. The thing which disturbed me was that the version of the film I watched (under the title Buried Alive) is actually a cut version of the film. I have no idea what could possibly have been cut; it was most violent. The eeriest thing was the realism of the corpses. They were the most realistic bodies I have ever seen in a movie which reeks of a low-budget film. They are better than some I have seen in million-dollar blockbuster movies made in Hollywood. They were absolutely dead (huh-huh) ringers for the characters they were supposed to be. The realism makes it easy to forget the you are watching a movie (a bad one), and really get into it. Limbs are hacked off with cleavers, and, like hacking apart a real body (or so I am told by creepy relatives) that they don’t come off with one chop. Pieces of flesh and gristle are still attached, and it is absolutely sickening when the two characters who commit all the murders wail on someone with a cleaver with a look of absolute relish on their faces while they are splashed with gore. It really almost saves the film.

In this respect the film is nearly a different sort of a porno. The acting and film quality is bad, but the stuff that is promised (in this case the violent murders and realistic corpses) are of the focal point for cast and director. Pornos also have horrible plots and acting, but that’s not why people rent them. Nobody ever watches a porno and spends the whole time critiquing the character development (maybe some people do, but they don’t get invited to parties.) So maybe the film has to be appreciated for the wonderful violence that it delivers, and judged solely on its merits. If you can do that, and you like violence, this is a great movie to try and find. If not, this is incredibly painful to watch, and I don’t recommend it be viewed by anyone.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check Amazon for soundtrack album (CD)

See also: Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Night Of The Zombies, The Resurrected

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