The early 80’s witnessed the decline of Italian zombie movies. Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, directed by Andrea Bianchi undoubtedly played a role in the death spiral. As with anything good, it reaches a certain level of popularity. Once that occurs, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Seeing a simple formula, producers mistakenly assume that anyone can make a successful zombie film. I present 1981’s Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror as definitive evidence against that assumption.
Burial Ground – The Fall of Italian Zombie Movies
Any serious horror movie fan knows that garbage movies pervade the genre. That fact is so well know that most horror fans learn to love many films that are otherwise garbage. Sometimes these films make us laugh. Often, these films simply remind us of that horror movies are fun. Unfortunately, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror fails to find that luster. Quite simply, Burial Ground is just a bad movie.
The Plot, or Lack Thereof
The story begins with an Archeologist excavating an ancient tomb. He unwittingly releases an ancient evil that causes the dead to rise from their graves. On the surface it sounds okay. The plot isn’t completely unlike that of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The difference is that this plot device completes it’s full life-cycle in less than 5 minutes. I wrote a review of The Incredible Melting Man a while back and gave it a pass for the same sin. It feels very subjective, but somehow there was some charm in how that film went about it. The Incredible Melting Man took itself semi-seriously. That simple fact made it okay. Burial Ground’s lack of plot comes from lack of care.
Michael, the Real Creep-Show
After raising the zombies, they must feed. What better to feed on than three couples and a young boy? Here is the catch. That young boy is portrayed by an actor named Peter Bark who visibly 25 years old at the time that he took this role. This apparently circumvented Italian child labor laws at the time. Regardless of the reason, Michael looks as creepy as the zombies.
Making matters worse, Michael loves his mother. He really loves his mother in that other kind of way. The real horror show starts when this 25 year old man-baby reaches up his mothers skirt as she tries to comfort him. Ultimately, this does pay dividends at a later point in the film. Zombified, Michael approaches his mother. She tried to console Michael by offering her breast to him, which he promptly bites off. Oh Boy.
Starting with the zombies, the makeup leaves much to be desired. The zombies are poorly done. The artists rely on an ample supply of live maggots and worms to complete the look. From a quality perspective, the makeup is sub-par, but it does have a certain level of creepiness in a Crimson Ghost kind of way. Apart from the makeup, the zombies look ridiculous as they shamble about. Could somebody get me a zombie coach?
The rest of the effects mostly miss, but some bright spots manage to shine. In a standard technique for Italian zombie movies, the effects artists appear to have used real animal entrails for scenes where the zombies rend a victim. In at least one scene it appears that one of the zombies chews on a real intestine. As cringe-worthy as the breast feeding scene feels, the actual bite looked real enough to make a grown man wince.
Unfortunately, this film forces me to get back on my soap-box. Enough with the sentient zombies. The zombies in this film use power tools, scale walls and throw knives like a ninja. All the while, the look like they would disintegrate to dust if someone touched them. In one word, Lame.
Burial Ground – Final Word
To put it bluntly, Burial Ground sucks. In the horror universe, plenty of movies suck. Somehow, a few of the sucky movies manage to also be fun. However, Burial Ground is just bad. Doing research on the film, I found several people that placed this in the so bad its good category. Conversely, I couldn’t disagree more. Anyone looking for a low-budget Italian zombie movies that are so bad they’re good should check out Zombie Holocaust. If being Italian isn’t all that important, try Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror should be buried, forever.
Chris Scullion over at thatwasabitmental.com did a more favorable review. Check it out here: Burial Ground (1981).
Burial Ground - The Nights of Terror (1981) - Rubbish - Malevolent Dark
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Date Created: 1981-01-01 00:00