Wednesday, October 22, 2008

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: Beware Organized Zombies!

I've probably seen BURIAL GROUND more than a half-dozen times over the years, including VHS screenings with pals, an afternoon matinee at the Budco Midtown (taken in rather than attend Calculus class), and a late-night revival showing on a ridiculously warm August night.

Regardless of the venue, though, I'd held on to a long-standing belief that GROUND was nothing more than a minor player in the Spaghetti Splatter oeuvre, a D-grade shocker highlighted only by its crazed casting of a dwarf as an adolescent boy and the notorious titty-chomping sequence that rightly secured its place in the Eurotrash Hall of Shame.

So imagine my surprise when I returned to BURIAL GROUND not once, but twice last year (on DVD and with an enthusiastic crowd of fellow gorehounds at the Exhumed Halloween Marathon) and found myself thoroughly enjoying this sinister, inspired zombie flick that offers much more than its aforementioned price of admission scene.

After a bearded archeologist makes an "incredible" discovery – and pays dearly for it – three couples and a creepy dwarf in the guise of one pair's son arrive at the country home where the professor was performing his experiments on the dead. Some heavy duty foreshadowing follows, along with lots of leering and sexual horseplay, but you won't have to wait long for the flick to get to its main course, so to speak.

By the time 20 minutes have elapsed in BURIAL GROUND's tight 85 minute running time the zombies released by the professor are attacking couples making out in the grass in broad daylight – and all hell has broken loose. Featuring some of my favorite zombie makeup of all-time – complete with empty eye sockets, squirming maggots and skeletal hands – these creatures have such a believable "look" of death you can almost smell it coming from the screen.

As an added bonus, BURIAL GROUND doesn't feature the same old empty-headed zombies we've come to know and love in the post-DAWN OF THE DEAD splatterfests of Fulci, Mattei and Co. Sure, these rotten skull chompers shamble along and dress shabbily. But they're also organized, work well as a team and shockingly employ weapons like sycthes and knives in pursuit of their prey. In other words, our human counterparts are fucked.

With its over-achieving zombies, creepy sexual undercurrent (before chomping her tit, Michael appears to put the moves on his mother in yet another stellar itchy-skitchy moment), hand-held camerawork that borders on nausea-inducing, and grimtastically nihilistic ending, BURIAL GROUND offers far more than I ever credited with or remembered.

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