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Dead & Buried is yet another underground genre classic to make its way to DVD in the past couple of months.  While it’s true many of these movies, including Dead & Buried, were previously released in obscure regions in strange languages, recently such films have been getting special treatment by up and coming DVD production companies that are building reputations with releasing such genre gems.  With this new revival, horror fans are being given the opportunity to view some of the movies that impact most all of the modern horror films being released today.  Blue Underground has chosen a great, relatively unknown film for deluxe treatment and ends up putting together a package that many major studios should pay attention to.

Dead & Buried: Limited Edition
There’s something not quite right in Potter’s Bluff.  The small, coastal town has been experiencing a series of murders.  A photographer from out of town has come to enjoy the scenic coastline.  He gets more than he bargained for when the local townsfolk burn him alive and leave his body in his car, overturned, for the authorities to find.  This is when Sheriff Dan Gillis gets involved in the investigation.  

The murders continue, but the oddities are still waiting in the dark.  As Dan starts to dig further into the murders, he begins to realize some of the townspeople are not necessarily who they say they are.  Murdered individuals are seen walking around, fine and dandy, days later.  Gillis' wife is acting oddly, she is linked to the murdered photographer, and Dan finds strange books and film amongst his wife’s belongings.  Dan’s only possible link to what could be going on comes in the form of the local coroner, G. William Dobbs, played by Jack Albertson (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) in his last film role.

Dead & Buried plays with the audience by switching tones very quickly.  There are horrific murders and genuinely creepy moments throughout.  However, the main focus of the movie is the investigation behind those murders and during this period, the movie is really a taught mystery/thriller.  The entire film and its mystery turn to pure horror towards the end of the third act as the true nature of the town is revealed.

The movie is a very credible and mature horror piece, despite some overly violent moments that were forcefully added by the third studio to handle this film during its production.  Director Gary Sherman (Deathline) handles the tone of the film well and creates some very disturbing atmosphere that builds up to a genuinely shocking reveal scene at the end.  To say which modern day horror movie stole from this movie would be to ruin part of Dead & Buried.  The actors are all very good and it was a pleasant surprise to see not only the wonderful Jack Albertson here, but Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Stree) in a cameo.

Dead & Buried is not a perfect film by any means, though.  It has aged relatively well, but some of the scenes speak loudly of leftover trends in the genre that have been handled to much greater effect in other films.  The themes here are nothing highly original and there are a few questions that are left partially unanswered in the end.  The film is, though, one that demands a viewing at least once and stands out as a very odd twist on the zombie film.

Dead & Buried: Limited Edition
Dead & Buried is presented in 16x9 enhanced, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.  The image source has obviously not been preserved well.  The picture is noticeably grainy which borders on being distracting.  Fortunately, though, Blue Underground has done everything they can to sharpen the picture and make sure all the colors (or lack thereof) are clear despite the washed out quality of the picture (a directorial decision).  While this transfer may look poor upon first glance, the viewer learns to appreciate the work that went into making it the best transfer possible for this aged film.

While Blue Underground is to be commended for offering both a 6.1 DTS-ES and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX soundtrack, I cannot help but feel they wasted time, effort and money.  The movies original sound elements could not have been in great shape.  While both of these soundtracks have periods of richness, overall they add nothing to the experience of the movie.  The music is the main surround element.  This speaks nothing towards the quality of the film, though, as Dead & Buried does not rely on surround sound to move the story along.  Dolby Surround 2.0 is offered as well as the original mono soundtrack.  Overall, a complete, yet sadly and unavoidably unimpressive, sound package.

Dead & Buried: Limited Edition
If you like commentaries, this Limited Edition package starts off with a bang.  There are 3 quality audio commentaries here as well as a collection of short featurettes, trailers, posters and stills.

Commentary 1 features Blue Underground's David Gregory with director Gary A. Sherman.  David Gregory acts as the audience’s voice asking the questions we want to know from Gary Sherman.  They both keep this track lively and highly informative.  There are a few dead periods that don’t last overly long as the two sit back and watch some of the more key scenes.  Fortunately, though, they don’t overlook any details and come back from their silence with something interesting to talk about.  One of the main focuses of the commentary track is the confusing history of the film as the companies with the rights to the movie changed three times in different stages of the film.  Cuts, additions and reordering in the film are discussed.  Very cool!

Commentary 2 is with David Gregory, co-writer/co-producer Ronald Shusett, and actress Linda Turley (now Linda Shusett, whose only film credit is as a waitress in this film).  This is a wonderful commentary for anyone interested in screenwriting.  Ronald Shusett discusses the history of the script and keeps the information coming during the duration of the film.  Plot devices are carefully analyzed and story structure is scrutinized.  Another very good commentary.

Commentary 3 is with David Gregory and cinematographer Steve Poster.  Again, this one is very informative for a special group.  If you are interested in cinema photography, Steve Poster will give you more than enough information.  While this was the least interesting to me, it did contain a wealth of very technical information that will explain every technical aspect of the film.  It rounds out a great set of commentaries.

There are the usual theatrical trailers, posters and still galleries found on disc 1.  On disc 2, there are three very good short featurettes.  “Dead and Buried EFX” with Stan Winston is a discussion with the modern-day grandmaster of cinema effects himself.  The genius Winston expresses genuine joy while discussing his effects work on Dead & Buried and explains each effect in depth.  “An Early Work of Horror” is a conversation with the four-bladed dream-killer Robert Englund. Englund explains his small part in the film and about the production itself.  A good retrospective on the film from an actors point of view.  Finally, “Crafting Fear” is a monologue from Dan O’Bannon who has a screenwriting credit on this film.  O’Bannon (whose name is associated with some of the genre greats including Alien and Return of the Living Dead) explains that he had very little to do with the script and spends more time analyzing why the script works.  This is a great informative piece.  I have to just say, having idolized the works of O’Bannon for years, I was quite shocked to see his face (did he show his face on the Return of the Living Dead DVD?).  He looks, at the same time, more normal than I expected and much weirder than I could have imagined.  That’s just an observation, take it at face value.  There is also a set of Steve Poster’s location stills on disc 2.
Dead & Buried: Limited Edition
When it came down to crafting this review, I was very concerned.  Movies such as this that have enjoyed a relative “success” in the word-of-mouth underground world can be a surprise when you finally see them.  I thought Dead & Buried was a solid picture and wish I could have seen it years ago.  It has aged, though, and other, more popular movies, have stolen some of the basic ideas of this film.  This DVD set, however, is fantastic and stands out as a great study tool for an aspiring filmmaker.  While the video and audio, both carrying the harsh stamp of age and neglect, leave much to be desired, Blue Underground has created a wonderful package around a interestingly obscure film.