Sheriff Dan Gillis has a nice life with his wife, the teacher Janet Gillis, in the small coastal and friendly town of Potter’s Bluff. When visitors are mysterious killed in the town, Sheriff Gillis investigates the cases carefully and finds that dead people are reanimating and coming back to life. Dan finds a book of witchcraft and voodoo in his wife’s drawer and he suspects that she might be practicing black magic. Dan meets the coroner-mortician William G. Dobbs and learns the dreadful and surprising secret.
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
User Reviews: Gary Sherman’s film Dead & Buried, from a script by Alien writers Ron Shusset and (the late) Dan O’Bannon, is a strange creature of a movie. It’s meant to reel in the horror movie crowd, but it’s for a crowd of another time period. That is, at least, the filmmaker’s intention, and it’s the kind of horror movie that might have been made in the 40’s (maybe Val Lewton would’ve produced it, though probably never showing a death on screen), and has a mad mortician, calmly and chillingly played by Jack ("Grandpa Joe" from Willy Wonka) Albertson, bringing back people from the dead and having those dead go after tourists or passerbys who have the dumb luck to travel into town.
Sometimes the gore is meant to be emphasized, like with the death of the fisherman or the doctor who gets acid poured on him. The latter of these is a terrible scene, not just because Stan Winston wasn’t involved in the effect (you can tell), but because it’s done too much and the camera lingers a little too long. Dead & Buried is helped by it being surreal: the opening scene where the guy is photographing on the beach, comes across the woman and starts to take pictures "for Playboy" and then is overcome by a horde of people also flashing pictured and filming and is killed by fire, is something out of a pure nightmare (you almost expect someone to wake up, but no one does). When it sticks to this dead-undead thing, of the hints at witchcraft and the eerie performances by the Sheriff’s wife and some of the townspeople like Robert Englund, make it worthwhile.
Dead & Buried is not what you expect, which is a good and not-so-good thing. It’s low-budget and atmospheric, and its ending is a bit of a WTF twist that seems unnecessary. But there’s a lot of interest here, a lot of weird effects with cameras and crowds of the undead. Just don’t go expecting the usual flesh and guts show, despite what the film’s own distributors thought at the time.