Apologies for the infrequent updates this last couple of weeks – I’m deep into the writing of another new book. There’s always time to recommend a film, though. File this week’s suggestion under forgotten gems.
I’ve mentioned before, I think, that during the 1980’s, when the UK government’s ridiculously heavy-handed video nasty legislation cleared the shelves of almost all horror movies, one of the only ways my younger brother and I could get our horror kicks was by perusing the relevant shelves of Birmingham’s book stores. A prized possession was my copy of the ALIEN photo novel (which still sits proudly on my office bookshelf today). When Pete and I found a paperback novelisation of a new movie called DEAD AND BURIED with an eerie and mysterious cover, and bearing the tag line ‘the creators of ALIEN bring a new terror to Earth’, we were immediately sold. It took me many years to finally track down a decent copy of DEAD AND BURIED, and it was not at all what 11-year-old me had expected. Back in 1981, this film was unfairly mis-sold.
A series of brutal murders of tourists rock the small and otherwise peaceful coastal town of Potter’s Bluff. Sheriff Dan Gillis pieces together the mystery and discovers that the town, and its residents, are not as they seem.
Warning – the following trailer contains glimpses of most of the film’s best moments and some huge spoilers.Read more: Film recommendation – Dead and Buried
There are no xenomorphs in DEAD AND BURIED. There’s nothing otherworldly about it at all, actually, but you can understand why the studio was keen to cash in on the producer and writers’ connections with Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. It’s a shame, actually, because I think the association diminished DEAD AND BURIED‘s impact somewhat. It’s about as far removed from a science-fiction blockbuster as you can get. Instead, it’s a claustrophobic and genuinely creepy tale about small town secrets that’s part TWILIGHT ZONE, part NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
The cast reads like a who’s who of early eighties genre greats. JAMES FARENTINO (who, to me, will always be the pilot of BLUE THUNDER on TV) is the local sheriff who’s married to the school teacher played by MELODY ANDERSON (Dale Arden in Mike Hodges’ 1980 FLASH GORDON). Popping up in the supporting cast are other horror luminaries including ROBERT ENGLUND and LISA BLOUNT. Particular mention needs also to be made of the brilliant special makeup effects courtesy of the late, great STAN WINSTON. There are some truly impressive scenes here, not least the time-lapse reconstruction of a murdered girl’s face (as glimpsed in the trailer posted above).
Okay, so the twist in the tail is pretty easy to spot early on, but DEAD AND BURIED succeeds in delivering a solid and unsettling story that’s definitely worth an hour and a half of your time. It’s currently streaming on SHUDDER.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s another trailer with an introduction and voiceover from the magnificent GUILLERMO DEL TORO.