Thursday, August 7, 2008

Burial Ground

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The "Burial Ground" poster art
(click image for hi-rez version)

You know you'd buy a ticket to see this movie.

The poster for 1981's "Burial Ground" is a classic bit of zombie movie artwork where once again the promotional effort is better than the movie... in this case, a whole lot better. That is one cool poster!


"Wa-wa-wait! I'll shave it off if you don't like it!"

But that's not to say the movie is completely worthless... not by a long shot. It has it's merits and I still enjoy putting it on occasionally, which is more than can be said for some others. I'd put it slightly below "Hell of the Living Dead" and above "Nightmare City." The proximity it shares with these other titles should give you some inkling of the quality; it resides firmly in that murky swamp of "so bad it's good" territory. In fact, the things that make this movie bad are the very things that make it fun to watch.


"WHAT is that I'm feeling in my underwear?"

A professor researching a burial ground of the ancient Etruscans in Italy makes a discovery of some kind that amazes him. But the ascot-wearing Etruscans buried there want to keep their secrets, so they arise and begin killing and eating all they encounter. Luckily for them, several vacationing couples have come to the Professor's castle-like mansion (apparently he needed some extra money to keep up his research) and they are more interested in getting down than getting out alive. Below are some screen captures I made to share with you. The living characters aren't interesting enough for you to care when they die; their main function is to become zombie chow, so the zombies are my main focus. Oh, and "little" Michael... we certainly can't forget Michael. Who could, having seen him? He's creepier than the zombies, and all he wears is a bad wig.


"Mother, may I have some warm milk before going to bed?"

Michael, a strange man-child, has a thing for his mother, which is understandable; lots of young boys have lusted after their hottie mothers. But she encourages it; when he shows up in the room where she and her boyfriend are giving the bedsprings a workout, she leaps up out of the bed naked, sauntering across the room to grab a sheet and halfway drape herself with it. When all she had to do was cover up a little more while in bed! Yep, the stunted kid is messed up physically, but his emotional problems stem from her unwillingness to let him grow up. Her own neediness and insecurity cause him to be confused about his budding sexuality.

Or, he could just be a horny midget with a slutty mother.


"Oh, man, a maggot just crawled in my mouth! Yuuuk!"

The ease with which the dead are accidentally raised by the hirsute, hapless professor studying the Etruscan tombs seems to indicate that some cemeteries should display "Quiet: Do Not Disturb The Dead!" signs. At least in most of these films some explanation is attempted; Trioxin gas, space radiation, black-magic voodoo, Egyptian curses, biological viruses, etc., but here they just seem to come out because he was being a little too noisy... or nosy, perhaps.


"Boo-gah boo-gah boo-gah!"

The "make-up" of the zombies seems to be composed of slathered-on plaster, into which assorted teeth, hair, eyeballs and live worms are implanted. Then as the "actor" goes through his paces, the dried mud-like layers crack, to reveal red stuff below. Although the effect could work to portray dried-up corpses to good effect, the overdone, hand-molded result hardly resembles human skeletal anatomy at all. Blackened noses poke through the caked mud and blackened lips show plainly behind "teeth," all too obvious in the lingering close-ups. Other zombies are fresh-faced youth with only a little make-up, though, belying the idea that they have all been dead for centuries. However, the makeup is certainly better then the oatmeal-wearing things in "Nightmare City," which seems to indicate that they all died while eating breakfast and keeled over face first into their bowl of Quaker Oats.


His mother warned him that sunbathing without enough tanning lotion would make his skin peel.

The director makes an attempt to mimic Lucio Fulci's Zombie, both with the inclusion of live maggots and nightcrawlers on the makeup, and even the wood-in-the-eyeball gag, only this time it's a glass shard. But the silliness of the living, and the intelligence of the dead, take away any tension and replace it with amusement. The tool-using zombies are so smart that one expects them to soon figure out how to hotwire one of the cars and ram the door with it. The only reason they don't have to is the idiocy of the people inside, who all too soon put themselves on the menu.


Somehow I don't think this fellow looked much better when he was alive.


"Miss! Can you get me out of this mudpack? It's drying out and hurting my skin."


These Etruscans really knew the secret to fertilizing their flowers!


Refreshed from his little dirt nap in a planter, this zombie has an appetite for mayhem.


"Should we get in the car and drive away?"
"No, they'll be expecting us to do that!"



"What... is there something on my face?"


"I'm too sexy for my ascot."


"By the power of the pitchfork, I command you!"


"Oh, no, you did not just pull a rake on me!"


"Aw, come on, you're making it so easy it's not even fun any more!"


Considering the amount of live worms these guys carry around, they'd be very handy to take fishing.

One death that will have you chuckling rather than upchucking is when a maid sticks her head out of a window. One of the zombies below nails her hand to the window sill with a thrown spike, while another slowly reaches up with a scythe. Putting it above her head behind her neck, he very slo-o-o-wly brings it down and severs her head as smoothly and easily as if her neck were made of warm liverwurst. Yes, super-strong and intelligent. The people never had a chance.


This fan completely lost her head over Episode 3: "The Revenge of the Scythe."


"Is this bugging you? Is this bugging you?"

Near the end one of the female characters is surounded by the zombies who advance slowly with hands outstreached. Apparently the are just trying to freak her out, as once they are inches away they all just hold the position while she screams. Must have been waiting for the director to yell "cut!" but he probably was off behind the set wall quaffing down a pint or feeling up the script-girl.


Whoever this mysterious "Black Spider" is, I wouldn't trust the prophetic writings of someone so bad at spelling.

Here's a good review of the film from someone better at that sort of thing that I am... AllThings Zombie.


"Did they just call for lunch? I can't hear a thing through all this junk!"


I'm not convinced this kid ever actually became a zombie. He was just acting normally.


Who these hooded guys are in the church next door is never explained. Sheesh, this late in the movie and you want explanations? They're just zombies, okay?

Here's a YouTube video of the trailer for your enjoyment!

3 comments:

kindertrauma said...

That kid has always freaked me out. He looks like the love child of Estelle Getty and Edgar Allan Poe.

Silver Screen Kid said...

Definitely a good crappy movie. That kid was played by a 30-somethin-year-old guy with a growth defect (like Webster). Back then they had laws in Italy about children acting in scenes with extreme gore / nudity (I guess they probably still do have those laws. Who knows with Italy, though).

That incestuous tit munching is one of the all time classic moments from zombie cinema. Huge points awarded for that one.

Karswell said...

I just bumped this one up higher in my netflix queue, cuz while the poster art is of course legendary I barely remembered the actual film and definitely haven't seen it since the earliest dawning of vhs rental. And when Silver Screen Kid mentioned the tit munching scene I went back and bumped it up even higher.

Really nice screen grabs too Fred, I should hire you to help me at my job doing this.