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.

Film Review: Prince of Darkness (1987)

Release Date: October 23rd, 1987
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter
Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Victor Wong, Jameson Parker, Alice Cooper, Peter Jason, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson

Alive Films, Carolco Pictures, Larry Franco Productions, Universal Pictures, 101 Minutes

prince_of_darknessReview:

This film came out in the middle of John Carpenter’s heyday. It was also the middle part of the loose trilogy he refers to as the Apocalypse Trilogy, which includes The Thing, this film and In The Mouth of Madness. All films are separate films but they follow a similar tone and a very stark “end of the world” vibe.

Prince of Darkness is an unsettling film and visually, one of the most striking in Carpenter’s pretty illustrious catalog. Other than The Thing, I find this film to be the most terrifying in his portfolio.

You never really know what is going on in this film but in a nutshell, the devil is coming back to Earth and the students trying to work on a strange science project, are being used as the vessel’s to bring forth his return. There is a mysterious cylinder of churning green liquid that works as the catalyst to propel the evil forward, there are zombie like hobos who have trapped the students inside the evil church with the green liquid, there are demon bugs, possessed characters and some pretty disturbing visuals. This film has made me fearful of someone spitting water in my face.

This is some of John Carpenter’s best work and one of my favorite horror films from the 80s. One can’t watch this movie for the first time and not feel uncomfortable. Even to this day, as many times as I have watched it, there are certain things in this film that still hit certain triggers that I had when seeing it for the first time when I was eleven or twelve.

I love this movie for what it is and how well it was executed. It has one of Carpenter’s best film scores and is one of the most original and intriguing movies he has made. The only thing really to fear though, is knowing that some schmuck will remake this someday.

Rating: 8/10