Burial Ground: Nights of
[Le Notti del Terrore]
|When The Moon Turns Red, The Dead Shall Rise!
Something's definitely missing. After watching Burial Ground:
Nights of Terror, I can't help but feel that there's just
something missing, and I can't put my finger on it. It's not
the zombies, there's certainly no shortage of those. It had
the blood and gore, so that's not it. They managed a few attractive
female leads (and even made a point to throw in a little bit
of nudity). So what's missing?
Ahh, I know. They forgot to add the plot! As well as everything
else that they needed to create a coherent and engaging storyline.
Under Andrea Bianchi's direction, the film flies off into
the zombie mayhem with very little warning. If you get up
to get the popcorn out of the microwave during the first ten
minutes, just go ahead and hit reverse because you've most
likely missed what small amount of back story and explanation
that the viewers are given. My advice is to forget taking
the time to go back, because it won't make much sense anyways.
I'll explain it for you.
After watching a bearded guy examine a cave wall, return
home to look through some dusty books, then return to the
cave to bang on the wall a few times...he meets with an untimely
end. I've watched it a few times and I still don't know exactly
why he was banging on the wall and why it awakened a bunch
After that thought-provoking opening, we return to the old
man's home, which is actually a real castle. Not one of those
huge castles though, more like a mini-castle. Three couples
(one bringing along their young son) arrive and are greeted
by the maid and butler. If you're not paying close attention,
you'll miss the fact that the home is that of the dead bearded
guy, Professor Ayres (Raimondo Barbieri), and after inquiring
his whereabouts, his absence is explained away by the fact
that he often leaves for the entire day. He's definitely left
for the day all right.
As the couples unpack, each proceeds to take a quick game
of "hide the salami" before lunch. It's at this
point that the freakish kid, Michael (Peter Bark), is introduced,
walking in on one of the couples. The couple seems surprised,
even though it takes at least 10 seconds for him to ominously
appear in the doorway...his shadow growing taller as he approaches.
Bianchi thinks he's clever here and that you'll think it's
a zombie. Nobody's fooled...and it's not clever. I'm not sure
how old Michael is supposed to be, but he acts about 10 but
he looks about 30. Due to Italian laws at the time, they were
prevented from hiring an actual kid for this type of film.
You'll understand why when he starts feeling up his mother
and following that age-old motto of "incest is best".
After finding the salamis, the couples gather to get their
grub on. Again, if you're not paying attention, you'll miss
it when they ever so briefly mention that the Professor is
studying the magical practices used by the ancient Etruscans.
What's an Etruscan? Since the movie doesn't bother to explain
it, I will. According to the dictionary, an Etruscan is an
inhabitant of Etruria. What's Etruria? It's an ancient country
of west-central Italy in present-day Tuscany and parts of
Umbria. It was the center of the Etruscan civilization, which
spread throughout much of Italy before being supplanted by
Rome in the third century B.C. There's a huge missed opportunity
here to make the story at least a little interesting.
That's all the info you get, the couples leave the castle
to enjoy the great outdoors. The rest of the movie consists
of screaming and running from lots of zombies until each person
is knocked off with some gruesome demise. One of the film's
redeeming aspects is that they've come up with a few creative
and interesting death scenes. You've got a decapitation by
scythe, a Fulci-like eye puncture, and the now infamous scene
of a bare breast being bitten off. That's not all of the fun
though; you'll also get several exploding zombie heads.
A lot is left unexplained and too many things seem too convenient.
For example, when the zombies are approaching the castle they
cause some kind of wacky energy surge to knock out the electricity,
including the lights. It's never explained, but what a convenient
way to make a darker, spookier atmosphere. Why is there a
random animal trap in the courtyard? And what are the odds
of stepping in it? You'll be asking yourself those questions...and many more.
Since the entire movie is about the couples trying to escape
the zombie onslaught, it would help to actually care about them.
When they decided to threw the plot out of the window, any character
development was attached to it. Every character is paper-thin
and devoid of empathy; so don't be surprised when you find yourself
rooting for the zombies. This is especially true when you see
them refusing to stay together, falling down, and putting themselves
in the worst possible situations. If you're like me, you'll
be hoping that the freak of a little boy, Michael, is the next
to bite the big one. With his weird looks, short stature, and
highwater pants, he's by far the creepiest thing in the whole
While the zombies are your average slowpoke meanderers, they're
not devoid of some intelligence. They take up axes and other
tools to break into the castle, climb walls, and interestingly
enough, they work together to break down the front door. For
such a low-budget film, theyre actually done fairly
well. The masks and make-up allow for some cool-looking dead
people. You'll find some scattered zombies that are less realistic
than others, and to be "ancient" Etruscans, a few
are barely decomposed. Overall a thumbs up, though. The gore
flows freely and a lot of care was taken with all the blood
and guts. I imagine they had a lot more time to work on effects
since they totally dismissed the notion of intelligent dialogue.
Burial Ground wont scare you, as it lacks any real
tension, and even the cheap generic horror film scares are avoided
for some reason. It's a film of missed opportunities. The location
looked great and lends itself well to a horror film. The crypt
set had potential, but it was sorely underused. They just didn't
capitalize on creating the mood that I think could have been.
Add that to the almost complete lack of a plot, lame music, and the severely neglected
script, and you don't have much of a film. That being said,
it's not a total loss. Many movies attempt a deep story and
fail, so it's probably better that they didn't even try. It's
all about the zombies and all about the gore, and they do that
better than most films of its ilk. That's the reason that Burial
Ground avoids the bottom of the barrel. There are a lot
of flaws, but lucky for them Ive seen too many movies
that are much worse.
(Out of 5)
|June 11 2002
|August 10 2003
|DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
|Go for it. It's worth a look. Just leave your brain
at the door and don't have too high of expectations.
||ZOMBIE LESSONS LEARNED
|1. When battling zombies, everyday green paint burns just as well as gasoline or kerosene.
2. If you decide to baricade yourself in somewhere, make
sure it's a zombie-free zone beforehand.
|-"I've always been terrified of the dead. I hope we're
going to leave them in peace."
-"You're getting a raise from me, but it has nothing to
do with money."
-"Momma! This cloth smells of death."
||Mark (as Gian Luigi Chirizzi)
||Professor Ayres (as Renato Barbieri)
||Evelyn (as Maria Angela Giordano)
Blasters, Inc (DVD)
|COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
|The castle used in the film is located 12 miles from
Rome, in Franscati. It was empty and available becuase
it was part of a disputed inheritance. In the past, it
had been used as the summer home of a Cardinal.
|The minimal budget allowed for no more than four weeks
|During filming, a zombie actually caught fire prompting
the stuntman to cry out that he was burning. The director
finished getting the shot before extenguishing the fire
because he believed that a "real" fire was too
important to miss.
|Originally entitled Le Notti del Terrore. AKA:
Burial Ground (1980), Night of Terror (1980
UK), Nights of Terror (1980 UK: cut version), Zombie
3: Le Notti del Terrore (1980 Italy: video title),
The Zombie Dead (1980 UK), Zombie Horror
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