Even though it may seem like a more recent trend, an overabundance of zombie films is no new thing to the horror genre. The 1980s are known as the golden age of the slasher film, but it was really the golden era for zombie flicks, as well — the majority of which were produced and released in Europe. One of those Italian splatter films was Andrea Bianchi’s Burial Ground.
A group of friends are visiting an estate for the weekend, when a horde of the ancient undead ascend upon them, ripping them to pieces, one by one.
A rather short synopsis, but straight to the point and very accurate for this depraved zombie flick by sleaze maestro, Andrea Bianchi. Known for his low-budget pornographic films, Bianchi first threw his hat in the horror ring with Burial Ground. Although it was a horror film, the filmmaker still added his trademark touch of sex to the project, which uncomfortably enough includes a Oedipal complex-laden relationship between a mother and her son . For the sex-hungry couples featured in the film, arousal and fear are present in equal measure, as it isn’t long after their arrival that the dead start emerging from their slumber.
Used to budget restraints, Bianchi and his team allocated their resources perfectly. Hiring a small cast of unknown B-movie and sex film actors kept costs low, which meant more money could be used towards make-up and special effects. The zombies featured throughout Burial Ground‘s 85 minute runtime are beautifully constructed, maggot and mud covered corpses. Not your average reanimated cadaver, these suckers are capable of wielding weapons and climbing terraces. Sure, we’ve seen this type of behavior in newer flicks like Land of the Dead and World War Z, but for the dead of this era, it is quite a sight to see.
On top of the classic 80’s zombie look, the kill scenes are gloriously filled with gore, escalating this film to heights comparable to those zombie flicks with higher budgets. Decapitations, ripped out entrails, and even a bitten off nipple all look wonderful, sure to please the most diehard zombie enthusiasts.
Because the cast is comprised of adult film stars of the time and B-movie actors, the performances are exactly what you’d expect from a film of this nature; It isn’t the worst I’ve endured, but there are bouts of over-acting and long, drawn-out scenes, not uncommon to the low-budget films of yesteryear. One odd casting decision I do want to point out, however, is the inclusion of actor Peter Bark (real name Pietro Barzocchini). Bark, already a grown adult, was cast to play the role of a child in the film because of his short stature and size. The problem is you can tell right away, because of his man-like features, that he is not a child, making the already uncomfortable mother/son sexual interactions even harder to sit through.
Minor setbacks aside, Burial Ground is a worthy entry in the zombie genre. It seems to already have a pretty solid cult following, but with a brand new US Blu-ray release by the wonderful folks from Severin Films, the fanbase will perhaps grow even greater. While there are other home releases available of the film, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best looking and sounding of them all; You will never get a better restoration, especially not with these bonus features included (a featurette on the filming location, a Q&A with Peter Bark, interviews, etc.).
Be sure to purchase your copy of Burial Ground from Severin today and don’t miss out on the gory glory that is 80’s Italian splatter cinema.
I give this film 3 decapitations-by-scythe out of 5.