Horror Movie Review: Dead & Buried (1981)

A video nasty once upon a time, Dead & Buried is a smart and classy horror movie that will keep you guessing right up until the very end. Then still throw in a final twist to leave you grinning with glee.

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Directed by Gary Sherman, it stars Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, and James Farentino. It is Albertson’s final live-action film role before his death six months after the film’s release.

Bad things are going on in Potter’s Bluff. Bad things like murder.

When tourists and travellers begin to end up dead, with very little to go on, Sheriff Dan Gillis (Farentino) begins to investigate. A murder mystery, the viewer is quickly given some insight into who is responsible. It’s just the ‘why’ that remains a mystery until the very end.

Why are a group of the townspeople murdering random people who visit the town? Why do they snap pictures of their victims before killing them? Why do those same victims turn up a few days later with no memory and as part of the townspeople?

It’s all very shadowy and a lot of fun to unravel alongside the excellent character of Sheriff Dan. A likable man, played excellently by James Farentino. Although he is far from alone as a great character played by a great actor. Jack Albertson as the town’s eccentric mortician turns in one hell of a memorable performance. Always going to be remembered for his role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Grandpa Joe, this performance is up there for impact. The supporting cast are all really, really good too. You’ll remember their characters. Especially as they’re all involved in this town’s dark secret in some way.

So… great cast and great story. What else? It has tons of quality horror moments. Some that are tension-based and others that are outright horrid. From the latter, it’s two moments that stand out and part of why this was classed as a video nasty.

The first is the classic ‘hypodermic needle to the eye’, shown in all its glory. The second is the impressive one-shot re-composition of a rotting corpse into a young woman. Absolutely outstanding stuff and daringly artistic.

Which is how Dead & Buried feels a lot of the time… artistic. It has plenty of traditional horror about it but for its time (1981), it is wholly original. More than any of that, it’s thoroughly enjoyable which is rarely something you can say about video nasties.

Dead & Buried
  • The Final Score - 8/10
User Review
7.94/10 (7 votes)