Steve Sunpire, reviewer of genre movies... Writer, Artist and Video Editor... Check out my hubs
This is a total WTF movie… What can one say about Burial Ground that has never been said before?
This truly is as bottom of the barrel as one film can aspire to be. The only way this film could have been any worse is if it had been shot on shitieo, I mean what sort of super crack were they sticking in their pipes when they came up with this garbage?
I don’t even know how to describe this film, the stupidity and depravity of this movie defies all logic and reason, the sheer audacity of the filmmakers is a testament to the endless levels of crap Italian producers will let slip through the shitty cracks of dried shit just to make some money.
However after saying all of that… Burial Ground has it's charms, I genuinely hold a soft spot for this film in my heart, it truly is a golden turkey, a film so astonishingly bad that it is actually fun to watch, and after repeat viewing one even starts to believe that 'Burial Ground's' silliness is intentional, that the film is fully self-aware of its crap-factor, and then I came to a realisation and had an instant epiphany…
Burial Ground is a joke… A big freaking meta-satirical joke, and after watching this film for the sixth time in my life—yes I watched this film six times, and I remember every single time vividly, once when I bought the crappy Vipco release, a second when I couldn't believe what I had just watched so watched it again, then a third when I had to watch it with a friend just so I had someone to talk about the film with, then again with more friends and a shit tonne of beer and vodka, and twice when I bought the 88 films Blu-ray—it became evidently clear that this film is without any doubt a comedy, there just is no other explanation to why Burial Ground exists, other than it is a spoof/parody of other Italian zombie movies.
Burial Ground is an absolute genius film, this is clearly the first-ever zombie spoof film, years ahead of its time, years before Return of the Living Dead 1985, Burial Ground is the first zombie comedy and it is a masterful work of genuine genius.
IT JUST HAS TO BE A PARODY
Unfortunately Burial Ground lampoons the most obscure zombie films, the zombie films before zombie films were even considered by studios as viable consumer material, the zombie films before the hype, before the buzz, before zombie films were heir own. genre
Besides Night of the Living Dead 1969, Burial Ground lampoons the likes of Tombs of the Blind Dead 1971, 'The Virgin Among the Living Dead' 1973, Night of the Seagulls 1975, and even Zombie Flesh Eaters 1979 to name a few.
IT JUST HAS TO BE A PARODY... THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION!
Now to the untrained eye Burial Ground looks like just a low-budget shoddy zombie movie, and uneducated audience in 70s Euro-trash cinema will easily spot all of the films shortcomings be them intentional or not. However to a seasoned cinephile of European exploitation cinema Burial Ground is less a film trying to be a serious zombie horror, but an actual satire of zombie/splatter/erotic films of the 70's.
However there is no way for me to back up this augment, there is no testimony to reinforce this theory; the only proof is in the actual film itself, and I will outline some of the key points in 'Burial Ground' to back up my theory that this film is in actual fact a comedy.
Why Burial Ground 1981 is a satirical parody/comedy of 70's Euro-trash exploitation cinema, and not in actual fact a bad zombie movie trying to take itself seriously?
- The archaeologist professor at the beginning of film tries to make friends with the zombies, rather than fight them or run away before they munch him down. The professors acting is almost as if David Attenborough had found a talking Albatross and tried to communicate with it.
- The box title of the film is 'Burial Ground' however the credits would lead you to believe the film is called 'Nights of Terror'. Now European exploitation films usually were miss-titled or released under multiple titles, I genuinely stand by this as an intentional joke.
- The opening credits music, upbeat jazz, is highly reminiscent of 60's and 70's comedies, and completely out of place with the Tangerine Dreams-esque synthesiser music from the opening and rest of the movie.
- The characters, if you can call them that, are just blatant hyperbolic caricatures of rich snobbish and lavish aristocrats. The women are beautiful, the men are dull and disgusting.
- 70s euro-trash erotica, the first thing our protagonists do once they arrive at the mansion is all go off to have sex.
- We have a ten-year-old boy clearly being played by a short man in his early thirties.
- The whole film is shot either in one long master shot or a medium close up, classic 70s comedy cinematography... Most comedy is shot flat in one master shot occasionally cutting away to mid close-ups, look at SNL or any Jim Carrey film... or take a look at any Charlie Chaplin sketch, 'Burial Ground' is filmed the exact same way.
- Random acts of paranormal experience
- Random bear-trap
- Ludicrously long build ups of fake high tension, if you can call them that, to fake pay off's, except when a woman gets her head sliced off, that build up did pay off.
- Mother of a thirty-year-old ten-year-old boy getting caught by son having sex with a man who is not his dad but her lover, jumping naked out of bed to cover herself up with a towel on the other side of the room... This has to be a joke, a gag.
- Over the top gore and violence, so over the top it just becomes comically silly and absurd.
- Nailing flimsy wooden boards on all of the windows and doors in an enormous mansion.
- Then all of the characters decide to let the zombies in, as it apparently would be easier for them that way.
- Yes at one point in the film that thirty-year-old man-boy-child decides it would be a brilliant idea to try and score with his mother, however she rebuts him and he runs away to become zombie food, only later to reappear as a zombie himself, and I shit you not, the mother feels so bad about turning her son away earlier she lets him eat her breast off… Zombie incest... Yes, that’s right 'Braindead' 1992 fans 'Burial Ground' got there first.
- And many many more comical moments...
The zombies look goofy, now the same guy, Gino De Rossi, who did the make-up effects for Lucio Fulci's early horror films as well as 'Cannibal Ferox' 1981, 'The Last Emperor' 1987 and 'Casino Royal' 2006, created the make-up effects for this film, and 'Burial Ground' was after he had done the make-up on 'City of the Living Dead' 1980 and 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' 1979, so De Rossi was clearly seasoned in making up zombies.
But the zombies of 'Burial Ground' don’t just look like bad make-up effects, these look like deliberately goofy masks, with outrageously over the top features. These look like Halloween masks someone made at home because they left it to the last minute and the store had run out of stock.
There is clearly a deliberate artistic choice here to make the zombies look as silly as possible; this had to have been deliberate.
But I guess you cannot deny they look unique for the time, and as a bonus, all of the other gore elements are actually good, so you cannot complain too much.
The zombies of 'Burial Ground' are original in character, for instance, they are almost organised, devising complex strategies, working as teams and calculating against our stupid protagonists.
The zombies use weapons and are even shown to have some great marksmanship skills.
However dumb the zombies look in 'Burial Ground' you have to admit they are quite articulate and highly organised, which is something very original in the early years of zombie cinema.
Now for all of the goofiness, bad acting, shoddy make-up effects and ludicrous narrative 'Burial Ground' does have some redeeming factors, apart from the comedy, 'Burial Ground' has some fine music, beautiful even, the opening theme of the film is one of the best pieces of music I have ever heard in a low-budget exploitation horror, it sets an aura of mystery and draws you right into the film.
The acting and story, however… Forget about it, there is no story, the film is progressed via a series of ludicrous subplots, that have no real ending or meaning, and the characters have no business being anywhere near this film, rather they would feel more at home in a 'Scooby-doo' episode.
The films pacing is all wrong, starting off fast, 'Burial Ground' wastes no time in getting the zombies on the screen as quickly as possible, but in doing so it blows its own load way too soon, slowing down towards the middle and dragging on until the end.
And as for the cinematography, everything is in a master shot, static just letting the action unfold.
'Burial Ground' was produced by Gabriele Crisanti with a screenplay by Piero Regnoli and directed by Andrea Bianchi, unfortunately, I am not too familiar with Andrea Bianchi work, but he was the man responsible for the erotic 'The Exorcist' 1973 clone 'Malabimba' 1979.
To be honest, it is no surprise 'Burial Ground' ended up the way it did, 'Burial Ground' is a clear cash and grab of the zombie film boom at the time.
However, I genuinely believe Andrea Bianchi, intentionally, possibly in secret, directed this as a parody-comedy not just of the genre but also of the production practices used at the time.
'Burial Ground' is now available through 88 Films in the UK, fully uncut and beautifully re-masters, the restoration is fantastic.
This is the best 'Burial Ground' has ever looked, and probably the most effort anyone has ever put into this film, clear and crisp image and sound, and much effort has been taken to retain the film's original grain and colours.
'Burial Ground' is part of 88 Films Italian Collection, and comes with a reversible sleeve, collectors booklet and postcard, the disc includes an interview with Mikel Coven on the films of Andrea Bianchi, as well as a cool audio commentary.
Also on the disc is an alternative Grindhouse version of the film from the only 35mm print in existence.
I personally recommend grabbing a copy of this Blu-ray as the film just look amazing.
Overall 'Burial Ground' is a guilty pleasure of mine, I equally love and hate this movie, but it has a charm that only a true cinephile of European exploitation cinema can understand.
The film is bloody but slow, it's comedy gold but the joke wears thin fast, overall I give 'Burial Ground' the film a solid 3 out of 5 stars, and I give 88 Films Blu-ray presentation a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
'Burial Ground' is a classic piece of Euro-trash cinema, it's fun and fresh with something true exploitation fans will enjoy, though not so 70's European exploitation cinema-savvy audience members will undeniably not get the joke, my personal opinion grab some friends and have a bloody good laugh, this film is awesome.
You just have to see it to believe it…