Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Film Review: Burial Ground - 2009

A 2009 review of one of the most upsetting horror movies I have ever seen. You'll know what I mean when you get to it...

This month's movie is a "good" one--the Italian zombie movie Burial Ground!

The movie opens with some sort of archeologist guy digging in an ancient cavern:

...Topol is Rasputin in Burial Ground!

No, no, that's not Topol. Its just some guy--typical in horror movies--who is messing around with forces he doesn't understand.

He finds some stone slab with some writing on it, brings it back home and does some research using ancient texts. He mutter something about it being "the answer" or something, and returns to the cavern to dig some more. But this guy is no Indiana Jones--he basically grabs a pick-axe and just starts wailing away at these sacred ruins.

That upsets a tomb, which slides open to reveal: zombies!!

The zombies attack the guy, one of them biting his ear off. We then get a big juicy close-up of zombie munching on it, letting everyone know exactly what kind of movie they're about to see.

We then cut to the credits of
Burial Ground:
...okay, The Nights of Terror. These Italian movies have more names than Prince's drivers license (bada-bum!). Despite this title card, this movie is known to most people as Burial Ground, so Burial Ground it is.

The credits are your standard list of Italian names, with one or two American ones thrown in. And then you get to this:

In all of the movies I have seen (The Omen, The Cat From Outer Space, The Joy Luck Club, etc.), I have never seen an actor or actress get a credit that screams out "special" as much as this one. Of all the Big Deal Appearances I have seen--Marlon Brando in Superman, Frank Sinatra in Cannonball Run II, etc.--I've never seen anyone get their name in a box during the credits. Ms. Giordan must be pretty special!

Anyway, the movie opens with three cars of people visiting an old Italian castle. They are three sets of couples, one of whom has a son. All of a sudden, this film felt familiar to me.

The couples all check into their rooms, and then it hit me--I had seen this movie before. It was this scene--when the mother of the young boy puts her son to bed--that clinched it for me:

You see, this little boy isn't a little boy at all--it's an adult male playing a little boy. He's not a "little person" per se, he's more the size of your typical jockey, with a little boy wig slapped on him. It was this really laughable yet creepy touch that I remembered discovering back when I saw this movie in a theatre, part of a double feature put on by my friends at Exhumed Films.

At the time, I wondered why the producers had gone for such a weird, creepy touch as this--trying to pass off some 30ish man as a little tyke, floods and all. As I watched the movie, it became sickeningly clear, as we'll get to in a moment.

Anyway, the plot of this movie is pretty typical for a 1970/1980s Italian horror film--zombies attack, for vague reasons. You really don't need to know more than that. The professor guy upset the zombies' tomb, and now they've risen, and they're attacking the people who are staying on the grounds above the tomb. Simple--elegant, really.

There are 2-3 scenes in a row of the various couples getting it on as soon as they arrive (
"You look like a whore--I like that about you!"--actual line of dialog). To give you another hint how friggin' weird this movie is going to be, we see that the son overhears his Mom and her boyfriend getting it on.

He sneaks into their room, bursting the door open, surprising his Mom and her boyfriend in mid-copulation.

Once they see who it is, instead of putting the sheets up, the mother gets out of bed, giving us--and her son--a glimpse of her in full-frontal nudity, runs across the room, and grabs a sheet to cover herself.
Boundaries, anyone?

Anyway, soon after, the zombies start to attack:

One couple is attacked outside, and barely escapes. Another couple is attacked, and meets up with the first couple.

They make it all inside the castle, but the zombies start finding a way to get inside. They manage to kill a few people, including a maid that works at the castle.
During all the chaos, the little boy runs to his mother for comfort, and she cradles him in her lap.

They get so chummy that the son starts nuzzling her, sticking her hand up her skirt!
He actually manages to get half up her leg before she wakes the hell up and slaps him for this atrocity. He runs away.

Eventually, though, the zombies get him, and he becomes a zombie, meandering around the castle. Some more of the adults get picked off, leaving just two of the women and one man left.

After escaping a room full of zombies munching on one of their friends, the mom finds her son and calls out to him. Her friends tell her not to do that, because its clear he's now a zombie.

But she won't listen, and she cradles her son again. She then flat out lets the son fondle her, so much so she lets him pull open her blouse, and starts...doing something he hasn't done since he was a baby, let's say.

At this point in the film, any food you might have eaten during the movie has now come up on you. So you hit the Pause button, clean yourself up, and resume the movie.

The zombie son clamps down on Mom, biting off a particularly sensitive hunk of flesh. Now we know why they didn't hire a little boy for this part--it would've been a Federal Crime.

We cut to this Says It All Shot:

When being attacked by zombies is not the weirdest thing you've seen recently, you know you're having one hell of a day.

Anyway, these two are the only ones left--they scream, run away, but are caught by some more zombies in the basement. As the woman is about to be torn apart, the movie ends with this uplifting quote:

...the end!

I don't know, maybe I'm missing the point, but I'm not that afraid of any prophecy that features spelling mistakes ("nigths"?).

Whew, what a film! Zombies, gore, an ancient curse, bad dubbing, horrible mustaches, incest, and then zombie incest. Just think: while the poor actress who had to play the Mom was suffering the indignities of being in a scene where her zombie son--played by an adult man--was biting off her nipple, Meryl Streep was on the other side of the world making Sophie's Choice.

That said, this is film is enormous fun, in its own sick, sick way. The zombie stuff is hard to make new, so the producers and director tried to add as much sick stuff as they could to make this movie memorable. And at that, they succeeded.

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