Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror
When the moon turns red, the dead shall rise!
Year of Release: 1981
Also Known As: Burial Ground, Nights of Terror, The Nights of Terror, The Zombie Dead
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 85 minutes (1:25)
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Karin Well ... Janet
Gianluigi Chirizzi ... Mark
Simone Mattioli ... James
Antonella Antinori ... Leslie
Mariangela Giordano ... Evelyn
Roberto Caporali ... George
Peter Bark ... Michael
Claudio Zucchet ... Nicholas
Anna Valente ... Kathryn
Raimondo Barbieri ... Professor
The nights of terror are unleashed when a professor's thirst for knowledge seals his own demise as he unwittingly unseals a cursed underground crypt in an ancient burial ground!
The desecrated graveyard erupts with a ground swell of ravenous, rotting, flesh-hungry zombies that shamble into the night in search of living human prey! On the adjoining grounds, a group of clueless, decadent socialites are enjoying a wild weekend retreat of debauchery. Among the eccentric guests are a nympho mother and her freakish, incestuous son! Unfortunately for the guests, their isolated country villa lies directly in the path of the flesh-eating horde that have party plans of their own!
Burial Ground, remindin' us that you never entirely get over your first love. That said, if your first love happens to be your Mama, you'd best do whatever it takes to break that fixation. Gah... that kid in the movie purt' near brought my Spam sammich back up an outta its scheduled deployment to Asscrackistan on its first tour of booty. I can handle zombies slurpin' down spleens an people gettin' their brain housin' sawed off with a scythe just fine, but when pre-teens who look to be in their late 30s start shoppin' for honeydews in their Mama's produce section, well, even I've got my limits. Granted, this ain't nothin' we haven't seen before, but that sorta thing can really screw somebody up. Like I remember this one time I was over helpin' Skunky Hernandez patch a hole in the fence back in his calvin' pasture. Weird thing was, the fence wasn't so much busted as just detached at one end an wound up like a five year old after eatin' a dozen Cadbury Creme Eggs an this particular wire was also three times thicker'n the wire on either side of the adjoinin' rock jacks. Then I started thinkin' back a little an recalled Cleave Furguson an Billy Hilliard skippin' out on rattlesnake shootin' cause they hadda help Skunky patch up his fence, an about that time I threw down that post hole digger an just about decapitated this gangly ole barn cat before calmly an rationally askin' Skunky why in the name of Annabelle's abominably anguished anus of awe inspirin' availability this was the third time in the span of a week that the same spot in his fence'd been destroyed worse'n the job prospects of an evangelical home school student.
It became pretty obvious right then an there that Skunky had an embarrassin' situation on his hands, cause that's the only time in my life that I've ever seen the man take a deep breath an deflate like a tractor tire that just ran over a garden hoe. Usually he didn't do that cause he's subconsciously taught 'imself not to get any bigger a whiff of his sweaty flab funk than necessary. It was then that Skunky explained about this calf that just would not get off its Mama's tit. He tried everything; feedin' it expensive food, whackin' it with an old bull whip, even feedin' its Mama nothin' but raw onions to wreck the flavor in 'er milk jugs, nothin' worked. Then one day the Mama cow finally got sick of the little moocher after she'd long since dried up an the calf'd turned into an 1100lb nipple nibbler an she ended up kickin' the nancy boy right in his mental processin' unit so hard that he went full Dan Quayle an ran face first into the electric fence. Course once this happened, Skunky figured he was in the clear, cept that after that the calf did nothin' BUT run into that fence. Apparently, the last vestige of sanity he had left after that ole Jersey scrambled his thinker was tellin' 'im that his Mama *wanted* 'im to charge that fence like Gus Frerotte after a touchdown run. So every few days once the 30,000 volts'd finally stop fryin' his brain like an egg in a 90s anti-drug PSA an he could regain verticality, he'd do it again. Now I gotta admit, I felt bad for the guy by now, an I tried tellin' 'im it wasn't his fault an that it wasn't nothin' to be ashamed of, but now he's all freaked out that the butcher's gonna hear that he's got limp wristed Mooma's boy cattle an stop buyin' his stock cause there's been a rumor goin' around town that you can catch sissydom from weak kneed bovine burgers. So seriously, you mothers out there, can we please lay down some ground rules here so your babies won't grow up to be frauboys? If you need affection that bad, just head down to happy hour an try not to seem too desperate, usually works for me. Least when I'm not sayin' stuff like "frauboys."
In any event, as what has to be the single greatest Italian zombie flick ever to feature a twenty somethin' midget playin' a kid for no better reason than to keep Mariangela Giordano outta the crossbar hotel after shootin' the big Mama Knows Breast sequence, this one screams "educational opportunity." First thing I learned is that a red carpet in your hallway makes every trip to the can feel like a special occasion. It's also pretty appropriate, since all those shows that use 'em pass out all kinda awards that end up meetin' the same fate as last night's chicken fajitas. Second, Italians have skin tougher'n the wardrobe of an S&M bar patron, cause anybody else that stepped in a bear trap would have more'n a little bruise to show for their clumsiness. An third, if we were all as concerned about CO2 emissions as the cast of this movie, there'd be no reason to fret about climate change. So try to do as the stars of Burial Ground do, an ask yourselves "is it imperative that I use the truck for this task?" For example; after takin' into account the speed an dexterity of their undead pursuers, these good people opted not to use their cars for escape purposes upon realizin' that they can prolly just outrun the zombies. An when you get right down to it, if they take the easy way out an drive outta there, killin' the universe with every passin' second, they're no better'n those zombies. But the really interestin' thing about this one that I discovered was that, given a choice, a low budget movie crew will go against the societal norm an side with a pack of zombies that're in conflict with their own actors if they start makin' a nuisance of themselves. I've always been an advocate of standin' with whomever's right, rather than who I happen to identify with, so watchin' these two Grips join up with the zombies as they try batterin' their way into the house really made me feel a surge of pride in our race for the first time in a long time. These guys didn't just sit in their echo chambers an phone in support for their human counterparts, no sir. These men cast aside their differences with the undead in an effort to rid the world of people who spit out some of the worse dialog ever written in the history of the universe, an it's scenes like this that give me hope for the future of our civilization. So I'm challengin' every last one of you to be more like the Gaffers/Third Assistant Directors or whoever those two guys were, an take up that batterin' ram against tribalism. Because it's only with the help of everyone workin' together that we might one day be able to disembowel an devour the jagoffs keepin' us at each other's throats for their own benefit. Somebody should make a movie about that, that'd be totally ace.
The movie begins with this guy who looks like Billy Meier diggin' around in an old crypt til he dislodges a slab with stone etchins on it that look like somethin' Pebbles Flintstone mighta made durin' pre-school art class. Apparently the carvins tell some kinda story, an the story's so intriguin' to Billy that he hasta start pick-axin' the grate coverin' the crypt's septic tank to find the rest of it, only he accidentally triggers the garage door opener inside the crypt an a buncha zombies come pourin' out an tear 'im open so they can turn his intestines into outestines despite his promises of prestigious positions within his U.F.O. cult. Elsewhere, a buncha new recruits're drivin' out to Billy's place while this Italian lounge music from 1972 plays in the background, an once they get there the staff gets the guests settled in an tells 'em Billy had an abduction he hadda go to, but that he'll be back after awhile. So while they're waitin', one couple (George an Evelyn) figure they'd better mark their territory an start makin' the sign of the pygmy assault ferret in the guest room, all the while Evelyn hasta lay off to the side of 'im while they're humpin' cause apparently he's got a six footer that's gonna poke out of 'er mouth if she tries ridin' 'im. Cept before they can get finished the door flies open an Evelyn's son (Michael), who looks like he sneezed while he had those Clockwork Orange eye hooks attached to 'im, walks in an she hasta try hidin' 'er resume paddin' an shooin' the little creep away at the same. The next mornin', the zombies in the crypt next door finally get up an start runnin' into furniture an gropin' blindly for the coffee pot so they can try to salvage what's left of the day, while everybody next door's already up an walkin' around the property committin' various carnal acts an class C misdemeanors, til the light bulbs in the house start blowin' out like the colon on a piano mover who got a little too cocky. Unfortunately, George an Evelyn still can't get no satisfaction cause they've got Mike hangin' around an anytime George starts checkin' to see if the melons're ripe Mike ends up buttin' in an givin' his Mama the motorboat til George gets his spaghetti an meatballs away from 'er. Then zombies start sproutin' up through the front lawn like Skunk Cabbage til the place looks like a Plants vs. Zombies game that's gone horribly awry an eventually one pops up beside Mark an Janet who're rollin' around in the lawn gettin' grass stains an testin' out Janet's cock absorbers. The zombie's doin' his best to convince Janet to expand 'er mind an try out a threesome but she just ain't goin' for it an after a while more of 'em show up an they hafta skediddle.
Meanwhile, Mike finds a chunka torn cloth an asks his Mama if it smells like it's been up Adolfo Celi's asshole to her or if he's just imaginin' things, cept we never do find out cause about that time the zombies start Icky Shufflin' their way into the cellar with 'em an end up tearin' George open like a carton of Marlboros in a smokin' cessation clinic. Elsewhere, James an the giant beetch (Leslie) also have their buggerobics interrupted when the cock-blockinest buncha zombies in movie history shows up an they too hafta raise trou an run like the mouth on a New England Patriots fan. Not too far away, Janet steps in a bear trap an Mark gets this look on his face like he wants to sing "Damnit, Janet" from Rocky Horror cause ain't nobody got time/muscle for this, which she soon learns as he opens an releases the trap onto 'er ankle no less than three times as he struggles with it before havin' to grab a pitchfork like Cliven Bundy at a Harry Reid fundraiser to fend off the zombie vanguard. Fortunately, after Mark gets strong-armed by somethin' whose musculature should be nothin' more'n a dustculature by now, James an Leslie come pull Chewie, Gooey, an Ewwey offa Mark an start takin' out their sexual frustration on the ghouls' gourds with cinderblocks til they earn a slight reprieve an manage to get Janet outta the bear snare. Back in the cellar, Evelyn an Mike're failin' at zombie outbreak 101 class an have worked their way into an even worse position than they were before, so once they're inevitably found, Evelyn hasta splash lead paint all over a coupla walkin' maggot mounds an roast 'em like schizophrenic goth chicks durin' the Salem Witch Trials. Then everybody meets up in the courtyard, only their cars're bein' corpse camped an so they hafta go inside an tell the zombies that they can keep on knockin' but they can't come in. So now everybody heads upstairs an finally remembers how Duane Jones handled this problem in Night of the Living Dead an they start boardin' up the place like an abortion clinic in west Texas til all the zombies get bummed out an saunter off dejectedly like your obnoxious in-laws when you pretend you're not home on Thanksgivin'. So they've got things boarded up pretty fair, an at least the drink service hasn't ceased as the maid still has the beverage situation under control, but then James asks 'er to go take a peek out the hall window an she has no choice but to do it cause she knows she'll get deported back to Greece if she refuses.
Unfortunately, her streak of bad luck continues as one of the zombies waitin' down below was a carnival axe thrower in a past life an sticks 'er hand to the window shutters with a boot knife, allowin' the other zombies to reach a sickle up around 'er head an reenact the French Revolution. She prolly coulda avoided the sickle, but Billy always swore he'd have 'er on the first boat back to Crete if he ever caught 'er sittin' down on the job an apparently she'd rather die than go crawlin' back to 'er Pater just to have a sofa to crash on. Then James comes to check on 'er an laments the difficulty of findin' good help before he hasta flip 'er body up outta the window so she can be reunited with 'er head an give the zombies a piece offerin'. But about that time shit takes a turn for the real, cause then the zombie cavalry shows up an they're all armed with farm implements like they just knocked over a True Value hardware store an pretty quick they start hackin' up the door like overly aggressive Ginsu salesmen, til James hasta step out on the balcony an start blowin' off heads like Jenna Jameson at a gang bang. Cept all that does is get the zombies good an P.O.'d to the point that they start climbin' up the buildin' like those guys who hang around in the mall doin' the wall climb all day hopin' to pick up airheads with low self-esteem. Unfortunately, that's the moment Leslie chooses to pass by a window, which gets busted out like the windshield on a 1986 Chevy Silverado driven by Carrie Underwood's ex-boyfriend an she ends up gettin' grabbed by the collar an havin' 'er face drug through the busted window shards til she looks like she just finished a hardcore match with New Jack. Meanwhile, Nicholas (the butler) drags Janet to another room to quarantine 'er so nobody'll catch 'er blondeness, an of course that's precisely where the zombies strike next an Nick hasta run off to get somebody who's bein' paid more'n 15 Lira an hour to deal with it, leavin' 'er to poke at 'em with a trident she found leanin' against the wall with all the mad fervor an will to survive you'd expect to see from your Gramma at Bridge club. Eventually, the men finish with their procrastination contest an start choppin' off appendages like Lorena Bobbitt at the sex offender registry, only while they're savin' Janet, the zombies pile in on toppa Evelyn an Mike, an Evelyn hasta start slicin' up more dead guys than Dana Scully an Jeffrey Dahmer put together while Mike screams like a transvestite whose size 15 pumps just got stolen.
Once Evelyn's the last Mom standin', she an Mike head out into the hallway where he starts whimperin' like a dog whose paw just got mashed in the car door an tells 'er about how he misses the good ole days when she used to let 'im take milk shots from the honor bra, an after he starts treadin' into territory seldom witnessed outside the Ozarks she gets so weirded out she hasta smack 'im like he's a truck stop hooker she caught tryin' to lift 'er wallet durin' cunnilingus. So Mike runs off, shunned, shriveled, an with no hope for ever gettin' a prom date, til he finds Leslie, who's gettin' around pretty good for somebody who just got an eyependectomy on a chunka window glass. Elsewhere, Mark thinks he's finally got the situation figured out, an that all they've gotta do is invite the zombies in for tea an crumpets cause they're prolly just tryin' to pick up their copy of the Necronomicon they lent to Billy a while back an while he's tryin' to convince a skeptical public, Evelyn goes lookin' for Mike when she realizes he might be good to have around for a backup plan in case she hits 50 an can't find another man. Unfortunately (I guess), Leslie's chewed some of the more essential parts offa Mike while Evelyn was tryin' to repress that little scene in the hallway, an she ends up goin' apeshit on Leslie til she slams 'er head into the bathtub so hard all the Pepto Bismol in 'er brainpan leaks out an clogs the drain like an unwanted pregnancy in Beijing. While that's goin' on, the zombies've overun an Indian reservation an made off with a leg from a teepee an started usin' it to Grond their way inside like the Orcs in The Two Towers... ya know if the Orcs were zombies an if this movie were good, til they eventually breach the gates of Helm's Cheap. Finally, Mark tells Nick to go find 'em some chainsaws or somethin' that actually worked in one of the decent zombie flicks so they'll have a little insurance while they're abdicatin' the porcelain throne an all the bathroom literature that goes with it, only Nick runs into Billy who's lookin' pretty intact for a guy we watched get eaten earlier in the movie, an who grabs ahold of Nick to see to his severance pay as the rest of the cast heads for the hills an hopes to heck they don't have eyes. Will they make it back to civilization? Will Evelyn be able to afford the therapy sessions if they do? Is anyone even remotely bummed because I ended the plot details here? Possibly so on that last one, since it means havin' to watch more of this insanity for the privilege of knowin' how it ends.
The best way to prepare someone for this one is to warn them in advance that they're treading into Troll 2 country. Unfortunately, I didn't have anybody to issue that warning to me, though I suppose when you think 80s Italian zombie flicks, it's probably best to be prepared for something like this because frankly Zombi 2 is an anomaly. And like Troll 2, there's no tongue to be found firmly planted in a cheek anywhere in this one, it's as bad as it wants to be and this director ain't lettin' nobody stand between him and cinematic infamy. I'd imagine it was probably Dawn of the Dead, which George Romero collaborated on with Dario Argento, that set this Italian zombie trend in motion in the late 70s and early 80s, cause there're tons of these things, most of which tend to come up short of good, but still rank pretty high on the fun scale. I mean, just between 1980 and 1982 you've got: City of the Living Dead, Hell of the Living Dead, House by the Cemetery, Zombie Holocaust, Nightmare City, Zombie Lake, and The Beyond; with Zombi 2 having come out in 1979. Once you get a feel for who the specific directors are you'll probably come to the conclusion that Lucio Fulci's stuff is going to be among the better titles, so those would be the ones I'd recommend checking out first before looking into the rest.
Unfortunately, if I'm gonna look at this one the least bit analytically, as it's my sworn duty, its gettin' splattered to the four winds like a turd in the microwave. The first thing you notice that's impossible to miss is the dialog, which I'll just allow to speak for itself by submitting the following examples: "I'm terrified, Mark!", "Michael lets try to get away!", "They're coming toward us!", and "Mama, set them on fire!" For the most part the blame for this falls on the translator, but there's an entire movie fulla this kinda stuff and it's hard to overlook. Then you've got the scene that I alluded to earlier where the two guys who aren't even wearing zombie makeup are helping the zombies knock down the door with the battering ram, which was obviously done because they needed more actors workin' the pole (giggity), but were too cheap to put zombie makeup on them. It's one of the most mind boggling "fuck it, leave it in" moments I've ever seen from an editor in my movie viewing career. That scene alone renders the movie completely unhateable. Terrible as it may be, after seeing that level of ineptitude, it's not possible to hate this thing. Then you've got the sex scene between Roberto Caporali and Mariangela Giordano where she's about half way off of him like his schlonker's so long she can't actually ride him, the sequence where part of the cast has been killed off by zombies and the maid's handing out drinks, the maid's body remaining mostly upright after she's been decapitated as a direct result of refusing to back away just a teensy bit from the sickle to avoid said decapitation, the butler leading Karin Well to another room for absolutely no reason other than to prompt an attack in a different location, and the fact that sometimes Karin Well limps and sometimes she forgets to. You could prolly make an extremely effective drinking game outta all the terrible judgment calls from the characters, though I don't recommend that cause you could very well die if you're a light weight. There're more moments of cinematic genius in addition to these, but I'll get to those in their respective areas below.
Nothin' left but to get to it, so lets tear this thing open an see if there's any heart accompanying its dangerously bloated colon. The plot, excluding the first three minutes, is Night of the Living Dead. Zombies attacking people trapped inside a house, that's it. Simple, classic, and generally speaking, tired. I have no objection to this, just don't expect any points for originality. The acting is... how to put this, sketchy. On the one hand, you've got Peter Bark as the twenty something dwarf actor playing a kid so the ratings advisory board wouldn't throw Mariangela Giordano in jail for illicit acts with a minor, and he's creepy as shit. The guy dubbing the voice sounds about like a convicted child molester doin' voice overs for a church puppet show, and I'm not sure if that's what they were goin' for to make the guy as repulsive as possible, but it sure worked. Mariangela Giordano is also pretty decent as the stressed out Mom of Peter Bark who's had 'er husband die on 'er an 'er son start gropin' 'er all in the same day, but the rest of the characters are pretty flat and in no way memorable. It can probably be assumed that a movie with this kinda pacing (which is to say, pretty fast) doesn't leave any room for character development, but that's no excuse for these wooden performances.
Here's who matters and why: Karin Well (Convent of Sinners), Simone Mattioli (Guardian of Hell), Claudio Zuccet (Star Odyssey), Mariangela Giordano (Vampire Killer Barbys, The Devil's Daughter, A Girl for Satan). Then you've got the voice dubbers, who were fairly prolific in the genre during that period, and they include: Carolyn De Fonseca (The Fishmen and their Queen, Killer Crocodile 2, Alien from the Deep, Il giustiziere del Bronx, Demons 6: De Profundis, Phenomena, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Pieces, The New York Ripper, Piranha II, Absurd, The House by the Cemetery, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Hell of the Living Dead, Macabre, Beyond the Darkness, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, Blade of the Ripper, The Last Man on Earth), Edward Mannix (Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Endgame - Bronx lotta finale, Yor the Hunter from the Future, Escape from the Bronx, Exterminators of the Year 3000, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Pieces, The New York Ripper, Absurd, The House by the Cemetery, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, Cannibal Apocalypse, Contamination, Alien 2: On Earth, Zombie Holocaust, Eaten Alive 1980, The Pumaman, Cannibal Holocaust, Zombi 2, A Bay of Blood), Susan Spafford (Did dubbing work on: The Tomb, Cannibal World, The Mummy Them Park, Touch of Death, Devil Fish, I guerriera dell'anno 2072, The Raiders of Atlantis, Yor the Hunter from the Future, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Warriors of the Wasteland, Pieces, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, The Last Shark, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Contamination, Zombie Holocaust, Eaten Alive!, The Great Alligator, Zombi 2, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Blade of the Ripper), Pat Starke (The Mummy Theme Park, Killer Crocodile, After Death, Dial: Help, Vampire in Venice, Cannibal Holocaust II, The Barbarians, White Slave, Devil Fish, The Ark of the Sun God, The Pod People, The Raiders of Atlantis, Escape from the Bronx, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Ironmaster, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Pieces, The New York Ripper, 2020 Freedom Fighters, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Zombie Holocaust). Oh, and Karin Wells looks like she's climaxing while she's stuck in the bear trap, which I guess is possible, but kinda kinky.
The special effects are, in all fairness, a little sub-par. The zombies aren't that great, the guys inside the getup don't act well with the costumes, and for some reason, the zombies all look like they've had their heads shoved up a seagull's ass. Not sure what that white stuff is but it seems out of place. Then you've got the scenes where the zombies are getting their skulls bashed in and for whatever reason it looks like there's mud inside that tends to seep out when they're struck. It's possible that this is supposed to be putrefaction, but I dunno, seems kinda wrong, though not as wrong as the Pepto Bismol gushing outta Antonella Antinori's head as it's bein' slammed into that bathtub. I'll give them this though, the maggots are a nice touch, I liked the attention to detail. And to be fair, there is one zombie that looks a bit better than the rest, which is the one with the bulging eyeball, so overlooking the impossibility of a long dead corpse still having one, it's not bad looking. Then, in addition to the bite wounds looking pretty decent, I must also admit that nobody does guts quite as well as the Italians. Italians know how to make disgusting guts, excellent job there. I guess you could say it's a mixed bag, but the zombies just aren't that special, in my opinion. The shooting locations don't do much for me on this one, which is mostly due to the fact that the bulk of it was shot indoors in a house that has absolutely zero atmosphere. It's too big, and it loses that claustrophobic feeling generated by having a much smaller dwelling, as is the case in Night of the Living Dead. The outside shots aren't real interesting either, maybe it's just the opulence of the place that's off-putting, but I didn't really care for it. The soundtrack seems to be trying to recreate the strange synthesized tone that worked so well for Dawn of the Dead, and there are a few moments where it briefly comes together, but for the most part it just seems like a disorganized mess. The goofy Italian lounge music during the credits is preposterous beyond belief, though also kinda endearing on a bizarre level, but then you come to this fairly well composed, frantic composition that's playing over an extremely slow sequence that couldn't be more inappropriate for pacing of the scene. It also incorporates some old science fiction sound effects that give it this Star Trek on PCP effect, but doesn't really do anything whatsoever for the atmosphere of the movie. In general, it kinda reminds me of the old In Search Of TV show with Leonard Nemoy. Overall, not Italy's most shining moment, but it certainly has a "so bad it's good" element going for it, and is in no way boring even for a moment due to the fast pacing. Recommended only for the "so bad it's good" crowd, and fans of Italian zombie flicks, who probably have a certain amount of overlap now that I think about it.