Directed by Andrea Bianchi [Other horror films: La tua presenza nuda! (1972), Nude per l’assassino (1975), Malabimba (1979), Maniac Killer (1987), Incontri in case private (1988), Massacre (1989), Gioco di seduzione (1990)]
This Italian zombie offering (commonly known best as Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror) has some fantastic special effects in both their zombie design and exuberant amounts of gore. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really offer up much aside from that.
Really, it’s hard for zombies movies to not feel derivative – at times, this felt like fellow Euro-horror forebears such as Tombs of the Blind Dead and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie/The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (though in somewhat unique fashion, the former is a Spanish film while the latter an Italian-Spanish production), and of course emulated Fulci’s Zombi 2 and City of the Living Dead, along with taking some elements from Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City.
All of this is to say that you pretty much know what you’re going to get: a thread-bare story but great gore and effects, and by God, Burial Ground delivers.
Obviously, perhaps one of the most memorable scenes is a woman getting her nipple and breast tip gnawed off, but there are also plenty of scenes of zombies digging through peoples’ entrails (thinking Night of the Living Dead, only in glorious color), along with just general great use of gore. The zombies themselves have a great design too, looking both overly decayed, dried out, and decrepit, along with being inundated with maggots and seeping brownish liquid (which one can only imagine would be quite foul) when punctured.
Most of the performances here aren’t really note-worthy in any way. One that just has to be mentioned, though, is Pietro Barzocchini (credited as Peter Bark in the film). Because of Italian laws that restricted the use of children in violent and sexual scenes, Barzocchini (age 25 at the time) was cast as a young child (I’m guessing he was supposed to be between the ages of seven and ten), which added such a strange, surreal feel to the scenes he was present in. It also allowed for a rather creepy scene where he tried to seduce his mother.
Oh, fun times indeed.
On a small side-note, I rather liked the somewhat low-key way this film ended. I can imagine it bothering some viewers, but it also plays into the whole hopelessness the characters felt throughout the whole film.
For a fan of classic horror, there’s a lot to appreciate about this movie, but Zombi 2 will always be my go-to when it comes to Italian zombie movies, no matter how good some of the effects here tend to be. Still, I definitely recommend giving this one a look, as really, you can’t go wrong with Italian zombie flicks from that golden era.
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