Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Burial Ground: Nights of Terror (1981)

Title: Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (1981)

Director: Andrea Bianchi


I think I’m a pretty knowledgeable dude when it comes to my zombie movies. Yeah that’s right, I’ve seen a lot of films about the walking dead. I’ve seen the most popular ones like Return of the Living Dead (1985) and all of George Romero’s zombie films. I’ve even seen some pretty obscure ones like Wild Zero (2000), The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) and The Dead Pit (1989) amongst countless others. But the road to seeing all zombie movies is a long one, filled with many, many bad films. Right now I am trying to see all these zombie movies that I never got around to seeing, most of them are zombie films from other parts of the world like Burial Ground: Nights of Terror which just so happens to be an Italian zombie flick.

Necronomicon Ex-Mortis...loosely translated....Book... Of the Dead!

Burial Ground doesn’t have much of a story. It’s basically the kind of film in which for whatever reason, a group of people end up isolated in a mansion in the middle of nowhere. While there, the living dead begin to emerge thanks to the work of a scientist who is studying what is referred to in the film as “Ancient Etruscan Magical Practices”. The scientist then decides to read the words of a magical scroll that brings the dead back to life. So from there on in, it’s all about people locking themselves up inside of a house trying to protect themselves from the living dead, who are dying to get into the mansion to feast on human flesh. That’s about it ladies and gents. The producers of this film where the same guys and gals who made Patrick Still Lives! (1980) which has the same basic premise of locking people up in an isolated mansion. In fact, I think they even shot this movie in the same exact mansion!

So basically, this movie runs on it’s premise alone, plot is non existent. Having these characters locked up in an isolated location is atypical horror movie behavior; the filmmakers are just giving themselves an excuse to slowly kill off characters in grizzly ways. And that they do well! This film is filled with the kind of gore you can come to expect from an Italian gore fest. Zombies really gorge on human flesh on this one! You can really see them ripping apart flesh and tearing out intestines…the film gets pretty graphic. It’s the kind of gore you’d expect to see in a Fulci movie. Speaking of Fulci, this film is extremely influenced by Fulci’s Zombie (1979). It has a scene in which a zombie grabs a girls head and impales her eye on a piece of broken glass, much like that scene in Fulci’s Zombie. The shots are even freaking identical. Many situations and zombie attacks are taken directly from Fulci’s zombie classic. It also has a bit of the Blind Dead movies because all of the zombies are supposed to be monks from a nearby monastery, ooooh! A plot twist!

This film has many funny things going for it. Same as Patrick Still Lives! Burial Ground is as sleazy as a horror movie can get. You kind of get the idea that this movie is just an excuse to see naked chicks. Hey, just remember, this here film was directed by the same guy who made Strip Naked for Your Killer! (1975) It’s really funny, at one point in the movie, every couple in the film goes to their respective rooms to have sex with each other, and the film switches from one room to the next, from one sexual situation to the next. What’s funny is that they have these beautiful ladies, I mean smoking hot models, having sex with these old dudes, it boggles the mind. During those years, the sex/horror film was extremely popular in Italy and these sleazy producers made them as quick and as cheaply as they could. And they sold ‘em to America! I’m sure this film played just fine on 42nd Street somewhere in sleazy 70’s New York City in a double bill with some ultraviolent Sonny Chiba movie.

In Burial Ground, there’s this couple who have a kid named Michael. The kid looks like a midget, because he is a midget! You see, the filmmakers used a 26 year old midget to play the boy because they knew they were going to be filming scenes involving incest and boob munching. That’s right! I said boob munching! I mean this kid bites a good chunk of his moms breast clean off and chews on the thing! This flick is most famous for that scene and that scene alone! So we have this odd looking kid through out the whole movie! Even worse is the fact that the kid makes sexual advances on his mom even before he is a freaking zombie! Weirder still is that when his mom is suddenly confronted with the fact that her son is a zombie, the first thing she tells him is “feed on my breast! You always liked that!” and she whips out her left breast in front of all the other people (and all the other zombies) this lady just doesn’t give a damn! Her son wants to breast feed in public, so be it! If that’s not entertainment, I don’t know what is. And here I was thinking that Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak (1995) was the only movie in which someone gets their breasts munched on! Burial Ground had done it more then a decade before Castle Freak had.

Something needs to be said about the zombie mayhem in this movie. I mean, these are ultra slow moving zombies, the go at a snails pace, but they are many and they kill their victims in extremely gory ways. They are pretty clever as well! I mean, you ever heard of zombies grabbing a scythe and slicing heads off with it? Exactly! I think this is the only movie on which I have seen zombies using a battering ram! Oh wait, they did that in Army of Darkness (1993) didn’t they? Still, it makes the zombies in this movie look extremely resourceful and intelligent! The make up on the zombies is interesting, and to the films credit, each zombie has a distinctively undead look. I mean, they all look different and varied. Its not the same zombie mask over and over again. Also, this is a movie in which no matter how cheap or sleazy it is, you can’t say you didn’t see enough zombies. The zombies are on screen most of the time, so if it’s zombies you want, its zombies you get with this one. The zombie mayhem is equally non stop. Zombies are always killing someone every five minutes, so it isn’t boring in that sense.

The film ends with a nice little Fulci/Romero homage, or is that rip off? Well, this being an Italian horror flick, Im gonna go with rip off. But in actuality this "prophecy" sounds like a last minute way to try and make some sense out of the whole film. It is called “The Prophecy of the Black Spider” and it appears on screen as the films final shot, notice all the grammatical errors as you read it:

So that’s it my friends, another obscure zombie film seen! Now I need to get my hands on those Tombs of the Blind Dead movies that are waiting for me at home. Expect reviews for those soon! But Burial Ground? An a-typical sleaze bag Italian horror film. I mean, I never saw Fulci’s, Bava’s, or Argento’s films as sleazy. Burial Ground is. In fact, it’s on a whole other level of cheapness and sleaziness in the Italian horror movie pantheon. Don’t get confused, this isn’t a masterpiece at all, but it can make for an amusing (if not completely stupid) evening of zombie movie watching.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

Burial Ground - Night of TerrorBurial Ground [VHS]Burial Ground Poster Movie 11x17Zombie


Lee Russell said...

There are indeed some enjoyable moments in this cheap, horrible, sleeze-ride. A perfect film for a bad movie night where you want to laugh at stupid characters getting killed by extremely slow zombies. I still can't get over how bad the zombie masks look close-up, as they just painted black around the eyes and mouths of the actors, and yet you can still obviously see their real faces through the mouth and eye holes.

I think you'll find the third Blind Dead film pairs up quite nicely with this one as far as overall shoddiness goes. The other three in the series are quite fun, and decent films over all.

Good review.

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, I had fun with it, there are moments here and there that defy logic! Like for example, when Michael, the kid, gets killed by one of the zombies, the zombie is clearly chomping on his arm. But when the kid reappears zombified, he still has both of his arms!

How about that scene where they lock themselves up in what is obviously the workshop where they built all the sets for the film! It even has fresh saw dust on the floor and the place is supposed to be abandoned! Hilarious!

And yeah, you could see the actors faces through the zombie masks, I never got how they simply let that slip, as if we werent going to notice it?

LIke you said, a fun flick, but so stupid!

Thanks for the info on the Blind Dead movies, I'll be checking out the first one this weeekend and reviewing the rest in the next couple of days.

Thanks for commenting Lee!

Cal said...

awesome review! im getting my hands of fulcis zombi sonna and can't wait. If i remember right wasn't there a scene in zombie holocaust 1979 also known as Dr Butcher MD in which a group of zombies use a scythe to decapitate a woman from a nearby window?

Franco Macabro said...

I dont know man, that scene you just described sounds exactly like a scene on this movie, where this girl is hanging out of a window, and these zombies grab her and slice her head off, thats from this movie, unless they used the same gag on Zombie Holocaust.

These Italian movies fed off of each other a lot. The one scene I remember from Zombie Holocaust is the one with the motorboat engine in the zombies face, that one was awesome.

Cal said...

i did see it on u tube but looking now i can't find it. I seem to remember the woman was wearing a nurse outfit or something similar?

and yes the motorboat scene is epic

Franco Macabro said...

Your probably referring to the maid outfit she had on, the zombies kill the maid, yup, that scene is from Burial Ground.


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