Film Review: Dead & Buried (1981)

Also known as: Look Alive (alternative title)
Release Date: May 29th, 1981 (special screening)
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Alex Stern, Jeff Millar
Music by: Joe Renzetti
Cast: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund, Lisa Blount, Bill Quinn, Michael Currie, Barry Corbin

Aspen Productions, Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance, 94 Minutes

Review:

“You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can’t. You can only make me dead.” – Dobbs

This is a movie I’ve never seen but the old VHS box art used to intrigue me when I was a kid because it was hard to tell what the film was even about.

Looking at the poster art, the perspective is strange and I kind of thought it was about undead giants in the desert at night.

By the way, that’s be a solid idea for a horror film or at the very least, minor villains in a sword and sorcery story.

Anyway, the film is a about a small coastal New England town where the townsfolk act as a killer mob that loves taking photographs of their victims before and as they murder them.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, as it could ruin the big reveal, which I thought was pretty damn intriguing.

The film is really atmospheric and it feels very confining, as the dread within the town closes in on the core characters with each passing murder. It’s also slow paced but there are enough kills in here to keep the regular horror fan engaged and satisfied.

Apart from the ambiance, I think the most effective thing about the movie is Stan Winston’s special effects. This was still early in the legend’s career but he used some superb practical effects that have held up tremendously well. The shock moment of the burnt man screaming back to life was amazing and as a practical effects fanboy, I just nodded and smirked.

Dead & Buried was a nice surprise for me. I didn’t know what to expect but it was a slow burn with a pretty good, batshit crazy payoff.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: horror movies about killer families or strange small towns.