Director: Andrea Bianchi
Screenplay: Piero Regnoli
Cast: Karin Well as Janet; Gianluigi Chirizzi as Mark; Simone Mattioli as James; Antonella Antinori as Leslie; Roberto Caporali as George; Pietro Barzocchini [Peter Bark] as Michael; Claudio Zucchet as Nicholas; Anna Valente as Kathryn; Benito Barbieri as the Professor; Mariangela Giordano as Evelyn
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies)
Mother, this cloth smells of death.
Ye old awesome horror synth opens Burial Ground, an infamous Andrea Bianchi zombie film the wave that came out of Italy after Zombi 2 (1979), which also opens with a man trying to say to the undead he is their friend only to get eaten. The group who come to his mansion of the damned, to meet him, are to find themselves in the midst of this undead horde, including infamously a mother played by Mariangela Giordano and her child son, played by an adult named Pietro Barzocchini under the name Peter Bark, a very miniscule height male actor with the choice of playing him as said child, making viewers squirm since this film's first release. And yes, it was always weird, as his namesake, Bark's character was named Michael, really weird when he wanders into the bedroom his mother is in during an intimate relationship with his father and becomes jealous by their act.
There is not a lot complicated to Burial Ground in general. Set to a really idiosyncratic score by Elsio Mancuso and Berto Pisano, including a lot of lounge jazz that you would never find in zombie films from the 2010s, the basic premise is that they are in the home of Professor Harry, the man already eaten by the first ten minutes, who was studying rituals to summon the dead, and they have to survive. Michael's weird relationship with his mother being with her husband notwithstanding, it is a cheesy zombie film, and honestly, in tone there is no difference to this to a forties or fifties b-movie, of screaming damsels in distress and men helpless to zombies trying to choke them, only with gore and director Bianchi infamously bringing really transgressive content to his work. It is to the point the score at times suggests a UFO will appear any minute to explain why the zombies came out the ground.
The zombies themselves emphasis this film's legacy, how they can be both creepy but ridiculous, the morbidness of their decay in representing death contrasted by their potato sack cloth clothes, or how that, sanely, you could outrun these shambling undead with ease and get off the premises quickly. Instead, the cast are doomed by fear of the uncanny, moving decay or inexplicably start gurning transfixed and trying to fire at one until some figures out later headshots only work. Admittedly, getting a foot caught in an animal trap as at one point is something that could credibly get you eaten, but there is also both a humour and virtue even to this infamous film how the zombies make up in sluggishness with being clever and being able to use tools. Here, you may be decaying but your knife throwing reflexes are as strong as when you were alive.
Burial Ground is a film which, even next to the other zombie films from Italy, looks like it is chasing the others in trend, your mileage drastically changing depending on your taste in camp and feeling icky, something clear as it tries to top the splinter to the eye scene from Zombi 2 with a head through a broken window. There is still a style to all this to appreciate - I like the music as talked of, and this is still a production from a time where you could film at a real mansion with its aesthetic decor helping so much in the production value - but this is as schlocky as you can get. I love this film, but you have to work around this, to be able to appreciate its absurdity as much some cool ideas for the genre, zombies who figure out teamwork and battering rams. This is also with the film finding itself contrasted by its luridness, which became the more infamous aspect for decades, the more explicitly incestuous slant that comes between Michael and his mother becoming more graphic, in a way a) explains the casting of an adult, and b) is really screwed up. The tone is cemented when the film ends on a quote from the "Profecy of the Black Spider", which does not exist, and yes, is not properly spelt as typed there, adding the cherry to this gory guilty pleasure.