The Film (5/5)
Screw your Avatars, The Blu-ray format was made for Burial Ground, and now we have it released on Blu-ray with a proper restoration. It might seem like I am overreacting, but I feel in the case of this film I am not. I first saw Burial Ground close to 20 years ago now, on a VHS tape rented from a Movie Gallery in SW Florida. I knew the film was an Italian horror film, and it had zombies, so it became a must see. Immediately I took it home to see what violent and crazy wonders awaited me on this tape.
I hated it, and part of the blame lay on the shoddy tape source.
The tape of Burial Ground available at the time had such murky blacks that anything that happened in the films night scenes was unable to be seen. The rest of the film seemed to stupid, that I just wrote it off. I didn't pick up the DVD, but was convinced to pick up the Media Blasters Blu-ray (which barely looked HD, this film has been treated REAL bad), and revisit the film. Regardless of the quality of the film, the night scenes were at least visible now, and the film hit me like never before. The film was brilliant. It ended, and I immediately watched it again. It grew right away in my estimation, and became one of my favorite Italian zombie films.
Burial Ground opens with a professor unearthing some strange discovery in an ancient crypt near his mansion. The discovery apparently involved waking the dead, zombies rise to kill him (even though he's their friend). Of course, their hunger is not satisfied by the professor, so the undead make their way to his mansion. The professor was hosting a party for the weekend, and even with the missing professor the group immediately begins to party and descend into sexual debauchery. The zombies arrive, and spoil the party for the group.
Burial Ground was made in 1981 as part of the wave of Italian zombie horror to come after George Romero's Dawn of the Dead made the zombie popular in Italy. Unlike the Lucio Fulci films that could be by comparison be taken much more seriously, Burial Ground is just completely batshit insane all the way through. The film seems to be director Andreas Bianchi just throwing as much sex, and zombie violence as he can at the screen in about 80 minutes and then ending it. This, of course, is perfectly fine.
As if that wasn't enough he also had the good sense to cast 25 year old diminutive actor Peter Bark as a young boy who comes on the weekend trip with his Mother. Bark's presence in the film gives the whole thing another layer of strangeness, that has to be experienced to be believed, and though the rest of the cast of the film is at least solid (or at least fitting to the material at hand). Bark manages to own every single scene he is in.
The zombies in the film don't match the great FX work scene in other zombie films of the era, and yet I have a certain affection for them. They are at the very least distinct from one another, and are amusing in their onscreen presence. The gore in the film is quite decent, and is distributed by the buckets giving fans what they really came for.
Severin Films does a fantastic job bringing Burial Ground to Blu-ray. The transfer here looks much more natural, and well restored than either the 88 or the Media Blasters release before it. The film is presented in a 1:66:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Detail, and textures are fine, colors are natural, and blacks are solid. There is some softness, and some minor damage, but nothing to really complain about here.
Audio is presented in 2 options an Italian Dolby Digital track and a DTS-HD MA track in English, both tracks are quite serviceable with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect issues with either.
Severin has put together a solid package for fans of the film. We get 2 new on camera interviews one with Peter Bark the other with actor Simone Mattioli. There is an archival piece called the Smell of Death with interviews with a few of the actors in the film. There is a 16 minute piece that offers a history on the main location of the film that has served as a location for Blood for Dracula, Twitch of the Death Nerve, and other films. There are also 10 minutes of outtakes and trailer.
Burial Ground is an absolute blast. If you haven't seen the film, and love fun and weird Italian horror films you need this in your collection. If you have seen it Severin has restored the film and made it look better than it ever has before. It also has a nice slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.