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Horror Movie A Day: Quint on DEAD & BURIED (1981)
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Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] I’m really glad we got to this picture (thank you Movie Gods). Like I mentioned yesterday, fellow ‘80s horror nerds have been pressing me to finally watch DEAD & BURIED for years. The reasons being a great cast, Stan Winston effects and a serious tone. The flick plays up atmosphere, set in a foggy fishing town that apparently is so foggy that the INSIDES of buildings are foggy, too.

We start with a photographer taking pictures of a small beach. As he’s snapping photos, he notices a beautiful blonde, a townie who brings the flirt. It’s a nicely executed scene and my mind immediately went into “how’s this going to go wrong?” mode. The photographer starts snapping pics of this girl, posing seductively. Okay, I thought… In one of these camera POVs we’re going to see something grab this girl. I’m sure the filmmakers intended that because that’s not what happens. It’s the photographer who gets jumped (thankfully after Lisa Blount whips her top off) by a bunch of townspeople. She was in on it, luring him in as the fishermen in the town sneak up and jump him. They tie him to a post and set him on fire. Next thing we know, we’re in the middle of a street as the local sheriff (James Farentino) investigates a car accident. It’s our photographer, hanging upsidedown in his flipped, burnt to hell. I thought this make-up was pretty fantastic… one eye was permanently burned open, lips gone… gnarly. But then this dude starts screaming! He’s not dead! How fucked up! Great! The rest of the film is a mystery, unraveling just what the fuck is going on in this small town. Are all the townspeople in on it? Who’s not? And what the fuck IS GOING ON!?!

The WTF factor goes into overdrive when our photographer is murdered in the hospital (his poor exposed eye…) and is buried… then pops up, like he was never burned in the first place, pumping gas. Okay, smart script from ALIEN’s Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon (who also scripted two of my favorite ‘80s genre flicks: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and LIFEFORCE). Check that box. Also check the box next to great cast on your list of genre musts. You have Robert Englund (pre-Freddy) in a bit part as a townsman, Barry Corbin (WARGAMES, but who I’ll always remember as Harv in CRITTERS 2) and, perhaps the standout, Grandpa Joe himself Jack Albertson as the local undertaker, Dobbs. Setting aside my insane nostalgia at the sound of his voice (WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY was on constant rotation during my childhood), Albertson is the bright, shining star of this film hands down. His undertaker is at once a very sweet old man and a very creepy old man.

Dobbs takes much pride in his ability to recreate even the most messed up bodies for display before burial. He views himself as an artist and we get a great scene watching him work (aided by Stan Winston’s effects). And Stan Winston’s effects are great. There’s only one crappy effect, an acid-face-injection, but a little research shows that it was a reshoot and Winston wasn’t available, which makes more sense. But the stuff Winston did is top notch. The burned photographer, the face reconstruction, the eye-stab… great stuff.

The negatives to the movie pretty much rest in James Farentino’s lead performance as the sheriff. He’s okay throughout the entire movie, but really fumbles the big ending. There’s a reveal and when he sees it, he overacts to the point of almost derailing the movie. But the twist is fun (if not wholly unexpected) and Albertson’s work in this scene more than makes up for Farentino’s overacting, so no harm no foul. I wish Englund had a little more to do… same goes for Barry Corbin, but I think if the filmmakers had known how popular they’d be to genre fans I bet you anything they would have had more meat to their roles. Without knowing, I understand why the focus is on the hero with the most side-time given to Jack Albertson, who is hands down the most interesting and entertaining character in the movie. Final Thoughts: High on atmosphere, high on character-work and high on mystery. This is a demented little movie that makes you weep that Jack Albertson didn’t do much genre work. For ‘80s exploitation horror it’s got a little edge to it, but doesn’t skimp on the gore and flesh.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

Awesome. I’m a huge, huge Dick Miller fan! I have a lobby card from this film that I bought based only on the title (which I knew was the film that Roger Corman shot simultaneously with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) and Dick Miller’s name. See you folks tomorrow with my thoughts on this one! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark

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