In 1981, horror filmmakers were all busy looking for an unclaimed holiday from which they could launch their own series of copycat films in the vein of Halloween and Friday the 13th. The slasher craze had taken over the nation, and it seemed that there was just no room for tride and true horror flicks like the sleeper gem, Dead & Buried. This cult-classic shocker would eventually find a rabid following on home video (which is where I first saw it back in the days of blurry, distorted VHS), but now we can all see it the way the filmmakers intended, as the film makes its Hi-Definition debut courtesy of Blue Underground.
Potter's Bluff, Rhode Island is a picturesque seaside little village where everyone knows everyone and there's a pie on every windowsill. The cozy town has a gas station, a diner, a one man police force, and a gorgeous ocean view. It's a great place to live, but you wouldn't wanna visit there. See, in Potter's Bluff, people check in, and corpses check out. It seems a mob of folks don't take kindly to strangers, and show this early on, when a photographer from the midwest is bludgeoned, strung up, and burned alive, and then tossed in his van to make it look like an accident. The local sheriff (Farentino) doesn't buy it, though, and he begins an investigation that leads to more deaths, more questions, and some truly horrifying answers that will have your head spinning by the film's mind-blowing climax.
Dead & Buried is a very unique and highly atmospheric film, with scares that are much more psychological than visceral, and, as a result, stay with you long after viewing. The film moves at a somewhat deliberate pace - much like life in this sleepy little seaside town - but it serves the plot nicely, as it's not a question of "whodunnit" as much as why, and while the secret of Potter's Bluff is something you may figure out early on, the tense manner in which it unfolds makes for a truly unnerving experience.
Farentino and the late Jack Albertson turn in great performances as the sheriff and eccentric mortician respectively, while the supporting cast (including Flash Gordon cutey, Melody Anderson), flesh out the the personality of the Bluff's eccentric population quite nicely, lending to the creepy vibe of one of the eighties' finest horror offerings.
Dead & Buried arrives on Blu-ray alive and kicking, with a clean and consistent 1.78:1 1080p transfer. There's an occasional softness to the image, masking some of the detail, but this is the case with many of the films from this era, as the "soft focus" look was all the rage at the time, and was obviously a stylistic choice of the time rather than any fault with the transfer. The film is also inherently grainy, but the grain is of a fine cinematic variety that adds warmth to the otherwise stark color palette of the film. Much like the previous Blue Underground release, The Final Countdown, Dead & Buried isn't particularly colorful, as much of the action takes place at night, under overcast skies, or in dark interiors, but the film makes up for lack of visual pop with oodles of atmosphere, from rolling fog and swirling smoke, to eerie lighting effects.
The 7.1 Dolby DTS HD soundtrack is crisp and clear, free of distortion, and offers a wonderful reproduction of both dialogue and score, but otherwise doesn't offer much by way of aural excitement as Dead & Buried just isn't that sort of film. Still, never one to rest on its laurels, Blue Underground offers not one, but two 7.1 soundtracks, including a Dolby True HD version, as well a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
While Dead & Buried isn't reference material grade stuff, this is certainly the best this underrated film has ever looked or sounded, and Blue Underground knows fans will certainly appreciate the extra care that's gone into this transfer.
Extras here are carryovers from Blue Underground's excellent 2-DVD set released awhile back, and include three audio commentary tracks, including one with Director Gary Sherman and Blue Underground's David Gregory; a more craft specific track featuring co-writer Ronald Shusett and actress Linda Turley; and a technical analysis by cinematographer, Steve Poster.
Three standard definition featurettes (the best of which is an FX retropsective with Stan Winston), a poster and stills gallery, and trailers round out the goodies.
Dead & Buried is one of the finest examples of eighties horror. It's an expertly made, intelligent, and highly atmospheric thriller that resonates with the viewer long after the credits roll. Now that it's is out on Blu-ray, longtime fans can finally see and hear the film the way the filmmakers intended. As for those who haven't seen the film, well, you're in for quite a treat as this is one of those underrated little gems that Blue Underground is famous for. Definitely worth picking up!