Friday, April 8, 2011

Buried Alive (1990)

Hey, I had NO idea Edgar Allan Poe wrote a slasher about semi-nude babes with mental problems getting killed off one by one at a psychiatric clinic! You learn something new every day, because Buried Alive is really – if you believe the title card – “Edgar Allan Poe’s Buried Alive”! And even better, with these few words I wrote down the entire story of the movie and I don’t need to do that in the next segment.

Instead I can start with making one of my well-used clichés: this is better than some people claim it to be. Not that it’s any kind of masterpiece, not even close. It’s actually a crappy movie pretending to be quite entertaining, which is better than a boring movie that is… boring. I have no idea what I’m rambling about here, just “ordbajs” as we say in Sweden. Any way…

The director, Gérard Kikoïne, directed Edge of Sanity in 1989. A shallow, but gorgeous-looking take on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with Anthony Perkins in scen-chewing mega-mode. I actually like that movie a lot, and I can see a lotof Kikoïne’s style in Buried Alive, but this one is way more generic and lacks the extreme exentricity of his earlier adventure in horror. But what it lacks in personality it gains in visual excess – just on a smaller scale. The set-pieces is ambitious and filled with wacky angles and odd editing, reminding me a lot about Argento and similar visual directors.

The killer is actually cool, with something that looks like an inside out Ronald Reagan-mask on his head, which predates David Arquette’s The Tripper by a number of years. He’s a brutal and violent guy, but except a bizarre scalping with an electric mixer there’s no real gore to cheer about. Most of the time he just hits his victims over their head and buries them alive (Poe! See! See!).

But Buried Alive has good pacing and if the story bores you, the nice cast won’t. Robert Vaughn, not exactly at the height of his careeer, are making the best of his part and seem to have quite a lot of fun. Donald Pleasence is old and don’t have much to do, but he seem to enjoy a funny and goofy character which is very innocent. John Carradine also has a part, which must have been one of his last (the movie is also dedicated to his memory) and it’s classic The Bard of Boulevard-material with a fun scene-stealing sequence at the end. Arnold Vooslo and William Butler belong to the younger generation genre-actors doing small parts – and the women? I have no idea, they all look the same to me.

No, Buried Alive is not a good movie. But it’s an entertaining movie and that’s enough for me.

1 comment:

Eric Cotenas said...

BURIED ALIVE was one of three Edgar Allan Poe slasher films produced by Harry Alan Towers (with Menahem Golan's 21st Century Film Corporation) in South Africa (the other two HOUSE OF USHER and MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH featured some location footage in England and Germany, respectively).

Stylistically, there are some interesting thigns going on with Kikoine and cinematographer Gerard Loubeau's camera, but it fizzles out as soon as any of the actors opens their mouths. Frederic Talgorn only wrote a couple of minutes of new music (the rest was keyboard temp track that he wrote for EDGE OF SANITY).

Besides the "premature burials," Kikoine tries to muster up Poe by preceding each of the killings with an appearance by a black cat which prowls about the film.

Besides William Butler (who I believe also assisted on some of the effects with Scott Wheeler, who did make-up for all three of the Poe films), the film also features an early appearance by actress Nia Long.