Burial Ground (1981)

I’ve often said that I prefer Zombi 2 to Dawn of the Dead — at least if I am looking for a more fun movie — because it skips the political allegory and gets right to what the zombie splatter that I really want to see.

Burial Ground (also known as Le Notti del terrore, Nights of Terror, Zombi Horror, The Zombie Dead and most confusingly, Zombi 3) raises you that lack of Romero’s restraint and storytelling, doubles down by ripping off Fulci’s work which is in itself a ripoff (but a masterful one) and piles on the sleaze. No, really. This is a film that is ready to outright offend everyone.

The film starts with a professor accidentally unleashing an evil curse that reanimates the dead. He’s instantly killed. Meanwhile, three “jet-set couples” (I’ve heard them referred to this way several times and it always makes me laugh) and a creepy man child named Michael (who was played by Pietro Barzocchini, who was 25-years-old at the time…more on that soon) arrive at a nearby mansion, invited by the professor. We catch Evelyn (Mariangela Giordano, The Sect) stealing lingerie that she found in the mansion, to which her boyfriend James replies, “You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl.” At that point, that creepy manchild of hers, Michael, comes in and freaks out while his mom absentmindedly just stands there, nude.

It doesn’t take long before the dead attack. A maid is decapitated with a scythe because these living dead can use tools. Why are they more evolved than Romero or Fulci zombies? We never learn.

The zombies break into the mansion and attack everyone. This leads to that young creep, Michael, becoming totally shell-shocked. Evelyn, his mother, attempts to confront him, so he becomes to fondle her breasts. As he kisses her, he tries to get his hand between her legs. She slaps him as he runs away, shouting “What’s wrong? I’m your son!” He runs right into one of the party guests, Leslie, who is now a zombie. Like a Fulci librarian, he stares at her as she makes her way toward him.

At this point, everyone reasons that they should just let the zombies into the house, because they are slow and it will allow them to escape. Sure. That always works. Evelyn goes to find her son, who has been killed by Leslie. She flips out and smashes Leslie’s head against a tub, screaming as loudly as possible all the while.

Everyone runs toward a monastery, where the film decides to become a Blind Dead film. The zombie monks chase everyone to a workshop where they kill Mark with power tools. Creepy Michael has now become an even creepier zombie. Evelyn has lost her mind and thinks it’s a miracle, so she bares her breasts for her son to suck on. He replies by eating her breast off in graphic detail.

Finally, Janet is menaced by multiple zombie hands as the film ends with the Profecy of the Black Spider. Yes, that’s how they spell prophecy. “The earth shall tremble, graves shall open, they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nigths of terror.” And yes, they also spelled nights incorrectly.

Director Andrea Bianchi isn’t one for subtlety, which films like Strip Nude for Your Killer and Confessions of a Frustrated Housewife on his IMDB credits. If you’re looking for unrepentant gore (Fulci’s through the door eyegouge is repeated her with a window), bad special effects (the latex zombie heads are near Troll 2 in their quality), playing with guts and gore ala Blood Feast and a total lack of storyline or sense, then I’d advise you watch this one.

Of course, Severin Films is the place to grab it. They claim they are “improbably proud to present the definitive version of this gorehound/sex-fiend favorite.” They’ve even completely restored a print of the film that they found beneath the floorboards of a Trastevere church rectory. You’ll get a ton of extras, including a Q and A with creepy little Pietro Barzocchini! Plus, they made “Smells of Death” shotglasses and shirts. And the artwork — which accompanies this article — is amazing. Keep in mind, this isn’t an ad. I just love that Severin is spending more time and energy restoring and packaging these films than their creators did making them.

You can also find this on Shudder if you prefer to stream your films.

This movie is a real piece of shit. But you know, it’s an entertaining piece of shit. It’s the kind of film you can say, “But yeah, did you see Burial Ground? That one is totally insane.” And I love Berto Pisano’s atonal goofy soundtrack that blares any time the zombies show up. But if you’re looking for a movie with any class, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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