Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror ~ 1981, Andrea Bianchi, Italy
Burial Ground is a film about a lot of things… It’s a film about overcoming adversity, it’s a film about confronting the past, it’s a film about survival… but mostly it’s a movie where a full grown man plays a child who really wants to bang his mom. Yep. Now, granted, this is a very small man, but he’s definitely an adult human being, and not a child by any stretch of the imagination. And again, as I mentioned a moment ago, he really, really wants to have sex with his mom, and the reason why any of that was included in this film remains shrouded forever in mystery and lost to time. This is a movie where rotting corpses rise from their graves to tear human beings apart and devour their flesh, and none of that is even one tenth as creepy as this fucking kid/mom/incest subplot.
Plus, he looks like that.
THE PLOT~ When some professor/archeologist/whatever type guy removes an engraved plate from an ancient ruin, he unwittingly triggers a centuries old curse that reanimates the dead and imperils every lusty Italian in the immediate area. What a dumb ass, huh? Meanwhile, our cast of totally forgettable characters all arrive at the beautiful, stately Italian villa which may or may not belong to the aforementioned professor, and which also appears to be on the same property as this ancient tomb for some reason, for a weekend of aggressive sex in as many locations as possible, as often as possible. Solid plan. Sadly, none of these idiots is yet aware that the zombie apocalypse is upon them, so they only get in about fourteen or fifteen sex scenes before the place is just crawling with ghouls and everyone is forced to switch to survival mode. From there it’s your typical Night of the Living Dead style survival zombie film, they barricade, they fight, they die, the end. It’s actually pretty fun!
Burial Ground is a rip off, and no buts about it. If you read the plot blurb above, the you already know that these guys watched Romero’s contributions a time or two, but this flick is also clearly indebted to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, at one point even going so far as to directly copy of one of that film’s most memorable eyeball related gore gags. Even so, in watching Burial Ground, you’re more likely to be reminded of Jean Rollin’s Grapes of Death, or even the uber-shabby mummy/zombie mash up Dawn of the Mummy, as Burial Ground is tonally dissimilar to the work of either Romero or Fulci.
I actually sort of love it it. The make up effects are truly terrible, but the music is really great. It’s much more ambient and freeform than the synth scores you would get from Goblin or Fabio Frizzi, but it suits this film excellently. Burial Ground is also super pleasant visually, whoever managed to acquire this location for the film should be given a freakin’ trophy, because it probably saved the movie in the end. The grounds and house are both beautiful, and do more to push this film in the arty/poetic direction that Rollin has on lock than any other element in the mix by far. That’s not to say that the movie feels anywhere near as poetic as the work of Jean Rollin, and truthfully, it doesn’t want to be, which is okay. The proof is in the pudding, and Burial Ground is very forthcoming about its intentions; it wants to entertain, and deliver. In this film we don’t waste any time with plot, character development, or really anything that takes too much mental energy. Instead, we get zombies; we get them fast, and in as much abundance as is available, and to hold us over while we wait the scant few minutes it takes to fetch our wobbling ghouls, we are compensated with liberal doses of naked Italians gettin’ busy. Folks, Burial Ground isn’t here to judge. Burial Ground knows what you want, and you don’t have to pretend with Burial Ground. Burial Ground isn’t the kind of movie you take home to mother, but it’s the kind of movie you meet in a back alley when you really need a fix.
VIDEO NASTY BREAKDOWN
Yep! is also made the list of gnarly flicks which raised the English Ire back in the rough and tumble 1980’s! So, how does it compare to all the other films it tries so very hard to imitate? Pretty damn well, actually. Burial Ground has lots of footage of people having their guts fondled and yanked out by grizzled old zombies, but it also has a few memorable gags and scenes that stick out to the viewer; such as a somewhat elaborate sequence involving a dart and a scythe. More than anything else, what probably put Burial Ground on the map for both British Censors and psychotronic film fans is its puzzling inclusion of the aforementioned incest subplot, as well as the hardcore off-putting choice of casting a full grown man to play the role of Michael, who is supposed to be the child in question. We’re pretty much forced to assume that the biggest reason behind these decisions was that it was one more way to jazz the film up with sensational content that was smutty, and which felt markedly inappropriate, both traditionally seen as desirable traits for Italian Genre films. In the end no matter how you feel about the movie, Michael’s horrifyingly wrong relationship with his mother makes Burial Ground difficult to forget, and it also adds a lot of weight to later scenes in the film, wherein we learn the fate of young(?) Michael. Burial Ground’s blood and gore isn’t quite as over the top as some other films in the Video Nasty lexicon, but it hits home, because Burial Ground doesn’t work hard- it works smart. And by smart, I mean they cast an adult man as a child who wants to bang his mom, and then we see his corpse being eaten, and it’s super bloody and I love it. You probably will, too.
It also has one of the most bleak and nihilistic endings of any zombie film ever, which is quite a statement indeed. Suffice to say, nobody survives this one, and we end with a freeze frame, followed by this text (spelling errors included):
“The Earth Shall Tremble…
Graves Shall Open…
They Shall Come Among the Living as Messengers of Death and there shall be the Nights of Terror…
Profecy of the Black Spider.”
DAMN! That’s the most metal shit I’ve ever heard in my LIFE. So, yeah, if you want to know more about The Black Spider and whatever his deal was, then be my guest and google that shit. Meanwhile, this is a pretty amazing way to end a zombie movie, and I don’t even know if that caption is bogus or not. I really don’t care. At the end of the day, Burial Ground pretty much delivers in the same way that junk food does, it’s not good for you, but if that’s what you wanted, you wouldn’t have bought those Cheetos in the first place.