aka THE NIGHTS OF TERROR
(Italy - 1980; US release 1985)
Directed by Andrea Bianchi. Written by Piero Regnoli. Cast: Karin Well, Gian Luigi Chirizzi, Maria Angela Giordan (Mariangela Giordano), Simone Mattioli, Antoinetta Antinori, Roberto Caporali, Peter Bark (Pietro Barzocchini), Claudio Zuchett, Anna Valente, Renato Barbieri. (Unrated, 85 mins)
The success of George Romero's 1979 masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD led to an explosion of zombie knockoffs from Italy, where it was released as ZOMBI. This flood of the undead essentially helped establish the iconic status of Lucio Fulci, whose ZOMBI 2, aka ZOMBIE (1979), CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980), and THE BEYOND (1981) are arguably the greatest of all post-DAWN Italian zombie movies. Almost every journeyman Italian genre vet got a chance to crank out a cannibal zombie gutmuncher: Umberto Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY, aka CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980); Marino Girolami's ZOMBI HOLOCAUST (1980), and its retooled 1982 American variant DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D.; and Bruno Mattei's HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, aka NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (1980) are just a few examples. BURIAL GROUND, one of the most memorable films from the early '80s Italian zombie craze, came from veteran sleaze merchant Andrea Bianchi, whose credits include the trashy 1975 giallo STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER, the grim western-themed 1976 polizia CRY OF A PROSTITUTE, and the softcore (or hardcore, depending which version you see) 1979 possession sexploitationer MALABIMBA, aka THE MALICIOUS WHORE. Anyone even remotely familiar with Bianchi's work knows to expect trash, but BURIAL GROUND is in another dimension altogether, hitting the ground running, introducing one nonsensical element after another. It settles into more familiar zombie territory in the middle, but then the third act comes along and just takes everything into total jawdropper territory, collapsing into all-out insanity by the climax, where you see exactly why a diminutive man in his 20s had to be cast as a little boy. There's no shortage of reasons BURIAL GROUND has become a cult classic, but young Michael is at the top of the list. Ask anyone who's seen BURIAL GROUND and they'll know exactly who and what you're talking about.
|BURIAL GROUND opening at a first-run theater
during a slow weekend in Toledo, OH on September 6, 1985
MALABIMBA (in which Giordano plays a nun who decides the best way to exorcise the demon possessing her niece to have some hot lesbian sex with her), 1979's GIALLO A VENEZIA, 1980's PATRICK STILL LIVES (where she was on the receiving end of a vile death-by-fireplace-poker), and 1982's SATAN'S BABY DOLL. Giordano and Crisanti would part ways soon after, and her most prominent post-BURIAL GROUND roles were in Michele Soavi's THE SECT, aka THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER (1991) and as a resurrected Bathory-like countess after the titular Spanish punk rock group in Jess Franco's KILLER BARBYS (1996). Bark's film career went nowhere and he fell into obscurity not long after BURIAL GROUND (there's a great YouTube clip of Bark as a backup dancer for singer Gena Gas on Italian TV in 1979), though he has been making some European festival appearances in recent years thanks to his Michael infamy. There's footage from one on Severin's new deluxe Blu-ray release of BURIAL GROUND, which is easily the best this shoddy film has ever looked. One of the greatest bad movies of all time, BURIAL GROUND is must-see Eurotrash of the highest order, with Michael and his ludicrous transgressions, the over-the-top gore, the gratuitous T&A, the careless continuity errors, the blipping and blooping synth score, the bad dubbing, the awkward dialogue ("Mother! This cloth...smells of death!"), and the misspelled on-screen text at the conclusion, a "profecy" warning of the "nigths" of terror.