When I heard that the Final Girl Film Club was doing Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror my heart filled with joy. I reviewed this movie as one of the first half-dozen posts on the site, then just last month, added thoughts in a reaction piece when I watched it as part of my second annual Zombie Movie Marathon Month. So for Final Girl, I had to do something different, something more — so you get this, a few of my favorite things about the utterly insane Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror.
- Plot? What plot? – There is essentially no plot in this movie. I guess technically it has a plot: Three couples and one fucked-up kid (see item 10) go visit an old coot for unspecified reasons, right after the old coot has unleashed some zombies, also for unspecified reasons. Mayhem ensues. That’s it. This is a good thing. Plot would only distract from the insanity.
- Gratuitous nudity – What’s an Italian zombie movie without gratuitous nudity? In this movie, the women all get naked within the first ten minutes. That helps clear up what kind of movie we’re watching, right away, in case there was any question.
- Bizarre soundtrack – The soundtrack is part lite-jazz stock music and part drug-fueled mindfuck on the dark side of the moon. I’d be willing to bet money the composer just got as high as he possibly could, fired up a borrowed synthesizer, hit “record” on the tape deck and started twisting knobs and hitting keys more or less at random. Clearly he was going for something like the Goblin score of Dawn of the Dead; just as clearly, he was far too incompetent to even approach such a thing. The results are strangely fitting to the rest of the movie, however.
- Random bear trap – In one scene, a couple is running from zombies. The woman steps into a bear trap that seems to just be set out for no damn reason. Are there a lot of wild bears in the Italian countryside? No one seems perturbed by the fact that a bear trap was just casually placed on the path of this country estate, right where you might step in it while running from zombies.
- Smart zombies – The zombies are smart enough to use weapons (pitchforks, scythes, other farming-implement type stuff mostly) and work together to use a battering ram to get at the tasty meats (i.e. our protagonists) barricaded inside the country estate. Later, they dress up as monks to lure the survivors into a trap. Oh, you wily zombies! Overall, they show themselves to be significantly smarter than anyone else in the movie.
- Stupid, yet incredibly dedicated staff – On the contrary, the staff seem quite stupid and preternaturally dedicated. Even once the hardcore dying begins, they still follow orders promptly, even when those orders put them directly in harm’s way. Why can’t you find help like that any more? Oh yeah, they all died off in situations like these, or they were so stupid they set themselves on fire cooking.
- The maid’s death scene – Speaking of those staff, the maid’s death scene is an all-time favorite. While she is trying to close the shutters, a zombie throws a spike at her and pins her wrist to the wall with it. While she struggles against this cruel fate, another zombie reaches up with a scythe and beheads her. Ah, cruel fate.
- Leslie’s death scene – My second favorite death is Leslie, who suffers the unfortunate fate of serving as the Fulci “eye-gouge” knock-off of the film. Okay, technically it’s a glass shard that goes into her temple, not a wood splinter in her eye, but I am pretty certain this had to do with the effects budget, not any attempt at originality, because every other element of this scene seems directly lifted from the splinter-in-the-eye setpiece in Fulci’s Zombie.
- Toasty Stuntman – They set a guy on fire by accident during the filming, but the director insisted they keep filming while the guy screamed for help because it was too good of an opportunity to miss. You only learn this by watching the special features, but if there were any doubt that this movie is insane from top to bottom, that should clear it up.
- Peter Bark as Michael, the creepiest “kid” ever – Hollywood and Japan love the creepy kids, but they don’t know creepy like the Italians know creepy. You want a creepy kid? Cast a 26-year-old dwarf in a bad hairpiece as the kid, dub his lines in a weird, affected voice, then give him an incest subplot where he lusts after his mother. And gets to third base with her, before he becomes a zombie and kills her by biting off her nipple. That’s fucking creepy. Why didn’t this guy appear in more movies? Or why I haven’t I seen them, anyway?
That’s it, my ten favorite things about Burial Ground. If you can read that list and not need to see this movie immediately, you are a far, far better person than I — or at least a far more balanced person.
You can access the Final Girl film club entries on this fine movie here.