The late 70s and early 80s definitely represent a distinctive peak in zombie films. George Romero’s thoroughly modern vision of the undead on display in Night of the Living Dead was fully realized in Dawn of the Dead, and had firmly taken root by that time. Films like Zombi 2 and Burial Ground continued the tradition in Italy, and the peculiarities of these low-budget foreign films inexplicably helped define the genre during that period.
While the reason for its cult status is a little complicated, the actual plot of Burial Ground is pretty straight-forward. As guests arrive for a weekend retreat at an isolated villa, a friendly professor unwittingly unleashes a zombie curse while excavating a nearby crypt. The zombies then lay siege to the mansion as those inside attempt to survive the night. It’s an extremely entertaining and fast-paced film, but seems to be especially remembered for two reasons.
The first is the nature of the zombies themselves. Besides their cheap Halloween-like masks, they’re especially smart and cooperative! You’ll find them scaling walls, using battering rams and axes to break through doors, and even operating a table saw to dispense of their victims.
The second reason for the film’s infamy is the decision to cast an adult dwarf as a child who harbors an Oedipus complex for his mother. Unfortunately, there’s more on that below.
Best Scene: Somehow one of the main characters knows that the only way to kill the zombies is by “blowing off their heads.” So he heads to the balcony with a shotgun and does exactly that!
Worst Scene: At one point, the dwarf/son makes sexual advances towards his mother. Thankfully she rebukes him, and he runs away yelling “What’s wrong? I’m your son!”
Nostra-who-now?: An apocalyptic quote supposedly from the “Profecy of the Black Spider” is displayed onscreen over the final frame of the film. I’m still not sure if that’s an actual thing, or if it relates to the curse from the beginning of the film somehow.
Burial Ground [Blu-ray]
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