• Dead & Buried (Blue Underground) 4k UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Dead & Buried (Blue Underground) 4k UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: July 20th, 2021.
    Director: Gary Sherman
    Cast: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Robert Englund
    Year: 1981
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    Dead & Buried – Movie Review:

    Directed by Gary Sherman and written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, Dead & Buried doesn’t really get the respect it deserves. Sure, it’s got a pretty solid cult following but it really is a horror picture that should get more love in genre circles than it does.

    This creepy and understated picture follows the exploits of Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) who is growing increasingly concerned about the behavior of the citizens of Potters Bluff, a small ocean side village that seems normal on the outside but which in fact contains a very odd secret. When Gillis starts to investigate a string of murders in the town he starts to tie things to an eccentric old mortician named William Dobbs (Jack Albertson) who may or may not have the townsfolk involved in some very nefarious extracurricular activities…

    Tense and entertaining, this tightly scripted picture drips with atmosphere thanks to the authentic location shooting that really makes Potters Bluff feel like a real town. The quirky cast of supporting players who make up the local townsfolk – Robert Englund, Melody Anderson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke among others – all play their parts to perfection and bring that small town weirdness to the movie to great effect! Main players Farentino and Albertson are also great in their roles here, with Albertson’s quirky portrayal of the strange mortician really stealing every scene that he’s in.

    The cinematography from Steve Poster is slick and spooky, particularly in the night time scenes. The picture looks great from start to finish with plenty of strong angles used to emphasize the more intense parts of the picture for maximum effect. The makeup effects, from the legendary Stan Winston, still hold their own and still pack a decent punch as well, with the murder set pieces in the film staying with you long after the film has finished playing.

    While parts of the storyline might be a little predictable by today’s standards, Dead & Buried remains a beautifully made exercise in tension and horror that makes the most out of its interesting cast and picture perfect locations. It’s a rare horror film that is as smart as it is creepy, the perfect combination of atmosphere and ‘go for the jugular’ scenes of terror.

    Dead & Buried – Blu-ray Review:

    Dead & Buried arrives on UHD from Blue Underground on a 100GB disc in a 4k transfer taken from a “new 4K Restoration from the 35mm IP approved by Director of Photography Steven Poster, ASC” with HDR10 and Dolby Vision encoding. This is a nice upgrade over the past Blu-ray and DVD releases from Blue Underground. There’s a lot more appreciable depth to the image and the many scenes that take place in the dark or in foggy locales have much stronger clarity than they have in the past. Colors look great, skin tones are nice and natural and we get rock-solid black levels as well. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to complain about and there are no issues with any noise reduction either. Grain is pretty thick here but the transfer handles that well, it never looks clumpy or mushy at all and there isn’t much in the way of actual print damage here at all, the picture is very clean.

    New to this UHD release is a Dolby Atmos track in English that, like the other Blue Underground Atmos offerings on their UHD releases, stays pretty true to the movie’s mono roots while still managing to spread the score and occasional effects into the surround channels to nice effect. This happens not just in the more action intensive scenes, but in the quieter moments as well. Purists will, of course, prefer the mono option but this Atmos mix features excellent depth and some impressive range as well. There are no problems with any audible hiss or distortion. It’s perfectly balanced and it sounds great.

    Carried over from the Blu-ray release are English language options provided in 24-bit 5.1 DTS-HD, and 24-bit English 1.0 and 24-bit French DTS-HD 1.0. Subtitles are offered in English, English SDH and Spanish.

    The new extras for this release start off with an audio commentary with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. They start by talking about the locations where the movie was shot before then going on to cover the film's Vestron VHS release and framing, the story behind the film's score, the movie's budget, where Gary Sherman's career was at during this period, how the movie compares to The Fog, how they each came to discover the movie, details on the cast and crew, the film's novelization and how the film performed at the box office. They detail the film's distribution history, some of the more ambiguous elements of the narrative and the time line, the performances in the film and more.

    Behind The Scenes of Dead & Buried is a new featurette that runs thirty-three-minutes in length. It opens with some thoughts from Sherman that sets up what we're about to see, which is a selection of 8mm footage that was shot during the production. Sherman note that there was roughly fifteen-hours of it shot, and that most of it is "unwatchable or incriminating" but that they did edit the best half-hour's worth into what is included here. A few of the crew members - Brian Frankish, Steve Poster and Dustin Bernard - provide commentary over the footage and we get a look at the locations, what it was like on set, Sherman providing direction, a lot of pre-production and prep work, makeup and SFX work being put together, the production being wrapped and lots, lots more. It's interesting to see this stuff.

    The new Dead & Buried Locations: Now & Then is a neat little five-minute featurette that compares the locations seen in the movie to how they appear in the modern day. This piece runs four-minutes and it shows off the coastal locations, the town, the cemetery and some of the specific building used in Mendocino, California as well as a house that was in Los Angeles that was used for the movie.

    Also new to this release is Murders, Mystery And Music, which interviews director Gary Sherman and composer Joe Renzetti for fifteen-minutes. They talk about how they started working together and have continued to work together over the years. These guys are clearly good friends as well as co-workers, covering why they've enjoyed working together over the years, how Sherman pushed back when his producer, Alan Lansburg, wanted him to use someone else for the score, what went into creating the score and the intracicies that go into scoring for a horror film specifically, the use of specific musical cues at certain points in the film, why they chose to use big band music in the film and more.

    The last new featurette is The Pages Of Potters Bluff, which is an interview with novelization author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Here, over thirteen-minutes, she talks about how the ambience and focus between the film and the novel were different, and some clips from the film are used here with passages from the book to demonstrate her points. Along the way, she talk about how she got the job, writing her first story at six, promising herself that before she died she'd publish one hundred books (she has three to go!), the difference between writing as a craft and writing as an art, hwo novelizations tended to sell well around this period, working with someone else's vision, the difference between writing a screenplay and a novelization and ensuring you get an emotional response from the reader when you use graphic violence.

    Blue Underground has carried over all of the extra features from their standard definition two-disc DVD special edition release and their subsequent Blu-ray release. What does that mean? That means you get three separate commentary tracks, the first of which comes courtesy of director Gary Sherman, who flies solo and gives a great top-down overview of the making of the film. The second track features co-writer/co-producer Ronald Shusett and actress Linda Turley and it covers what it was like getting the project off the ground and being in front of the camera. The third and final commentary comes from cinematographer Steve Poster and it focuses on the more technical side of things, the camerawork specifically. Between these three tracks, there’s really no stone left unturned and you’ll hear pretty much anything you could have hoped to hear about the history and making of Dead & Buried.

    But wait, there’s more! The eighteen-minute Dead & Buried EFX takes a look at the special effects work that Stan Winston conjured up for this film while An Early Work Of Horror allows Robert Englund to wax nostalgic for twelve-minutes about his time on set and his work in this film. Crafting Fear lets co-writer Dan O’Bannon talk about writing the film with co-writer Ronald Shusett for fourteen-minute. Three different theatrical trailers, some poster and still galleries, menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc.

    As to the physical extras, as this is a combo pack release we also get a standard Blu-ray edition of the movie taken from the same new restoration. Additionally, inside the clear keepcase is a full color collectible booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold entitled ‘AVCO Embassy Pictures: The 1980’s House Of Horror’ as well as credits for the feature and a chapter listing. Additionally a CD containing the entire soundtrack for the movie has also been included, which is a really nice touch. We also get some very cool reversible cover sleeve art and, for the first pressing, a limited edition 3-D lenticular slipcover (Blue Underground have actually offered three different variants!).

    Dead & Buried – The Final Word:

    Gritty, fast paced, exciting and really well acted from a terrific cast, Dead & Buried is a great slice of early eighties action movie fun and Blue Underground’s UHD debut continues their trend of terrific 4k transfers that, when combined with a nice selection of extras old and new, makes this an excellent package for fans of the film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Dead & Buried Blu-ray screen caps!