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"When the moon turns red, the dead shall rise!" says the tag-line on the cover of the 2004 Umbrella R4 DVD release. Well, red moons prove to be irrelevant, but the dead definitely rise. Burial Ground is a full-on zombie flick, one of the Romero/Fulci-inspired Italian gorefests of the 1980s, seen now uncut, in widescreen and glorious colour. And as gory, sexploitative Italian zombie epics go, it's not bad. Not up to Fulci, of course, and nowhere near Romero, but not nearly as awful as previous poor-quality video releases of such films (and ill-informed reviews) had lead me to expect. There's no plot to speak of, however, and little character development. Not much subtlety either. So if that's what you look for in your zombie movies, forget it. Go and see Shaun of the Dead instead.

What Burial Ground does have is some of the scabbiest, most gruesomely decayed zombies ever, and director Bianchi lets you see them up-close-and-personal right from the start. He knows what you're watching this film for. Yes, there is a vague (very vague) back story offered to explain why the dead rise, and some character dynamics to fill in the gaps, but it's all purely cosmetic. It doesn't matter. What matters is zombies. Lots of them. Clawing up from the earth. Stumbling around with inexorable awkwardness. Ripping out throats. Tearing off limbs. Eating fist-loads of bloody intestine (and the odd liver). Making attractive women run, hide, scream, bare their breasts. There's lots of dismemberment and evisceration in this one. And along the way we're given plenty of close-ups of the many and varied semi-skeletal zombie faces and green-oozing bullet holes -- because the film makers want you to appreciate the glorious work of their make-up team. This is where the money went. And they want you to appreciate it.

The story gets moving by contriving to gather a group of attractive Italian actors together in a large, gothic mansion under mysterious circumstances (thanks to a disturbingly bearded archeologist who has violated an ancient burial site), kicks things off with a bit of good-natured sex and nudity.... and then it's zombie action all the way. Until, naturally, there's no one left who isn't splattered across the carpet or shambling about living-dead fashion. The carnage ends on a perverted sexual note as well, if you like that sort of thing -- an infamous scene in which a distraught mother offers to comfort her young now-dead son (played by weird 25-year-old Peter Bark) by giving him what he has wanted most throughout the film: her breast to suckle. Silly woman! What does she think her zombified cannibalistic offspring will do when a breast is shoved in his mouth?

All in all, this is pure, inexcusable zombie muck-'n'-mire-- and there's no other justification for it. In an interview included on the DVD, producer Gabriele Cristanti says that "mixing horror and sex was very popular at the time". Well, in these more blasé times the sex seems pretty tame, but the gore is still over-the-top. And it offers a visceral ickiness that no CGI equivalent could better. In fact, even though this film is over 20 years old, the brain-splattering and dismemberment is still rather effective. The zombie make-up looks good too, despite the fact that we are sometimes overly conscious of layers of shredded latex.

In an interview included on the DVD, lead actress Mariangela Giordano (whom Cristiani describes as the only one of the cast who was a known actor and had an ongoing career), when asked about the film, comments: "That's the one with the zombies, isn't it?"



aka Le Notti del Terrore; Nights of Terror; Zombie Horror; Zombie 3


Duration: 86 min

Aspect ratio: 19:9


Language: Very 1980s-style slightly awkward English dubbing (from the Italian)

Production Company: Esteban Cinematografica [it]

Director: Andrea Bianchi

Producer: Gabriele Crisanti

Writer: Piero Regnoli

Cinematographer: Gianfranco Maioletti

Special effects: Gianetto de Rossi

Karin Weil
Mariangela Giordano
Gian Luigi Chrizzi
Peter Bark
Simone Mattioli
Antonella Antinori
Roberto Caporali

Rating: 5.5/10


IMDB entry

copyright©Robert Hood 2004

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