By the time that 1981 rolled around, the Italian zombie movie was already succumbing to advanced rot despite only hitting its heyday a couple of years earlier thanks to Luci Fulci’s incredibly unofficial Dawn Of The Dead follow up, Zombie Flesh Easters (aka. Zombi 2). Two things where living proof of this: the first was Fulci himself had noticably turned his subsequent flicks, City Of The Living Dead, The Beyond and House By The Cemetery into more, surreal, Lovecraftian fare with the occasional shambling corpse appearance to appease the fans – but the second was far more damning as it meant that such pieces of guffaw inducing dreck such as Burial Ground (aka. Le Notti Del Terrore) existed to test the patience and turn the stomachs of those still faithful to the ailing sub-genre. However, serious zombie fan’s loss turned out to be trash cinema’s gain and despite my low score for Andrea Bianchi’s slice of moldy drivel, Burial Ground unearths some genuinely unhinged and decidedly unintentional laughs.
A beardy weirdy Alan Moore type screwing around in a crypt manages to awaken a clutch of zombies thanks to a hokey prophecy that details the end of the world and while he begs for his life (“I’m you’re friend!” he gibbers in an admittedly original survival tactic), he’s quickly devoured by the living dead who seem to be slightly miffed at having to finally get off their wormy asses and overrun the planet.
However, they don’t particularly seem to be in much of a rush, so while we wait for the zombies to get their act together, we are introduced to three, swanky, jet-setting couples who are staying at a nearby mansion and in fairly quick order, we discover that the males are a walking collection of gaslighting red flags and the females are clueless, voids of common sense. As these couples spread out across the grounds to give vent to their unquenchable sex drives, our attention is drawn to the pallid, hollow-eyed sight of Michael, a freakish little humunculi of a kid that’s been brought along for the ride who seems immensely traumatised straight from the off and has something of an… uncomfortable attachment to his voluptuous mother, Evelyn. While he wanders around the place, walking in on his parents having sex and spouting out announcements like “Mama, this cloth smells of dead!”, the zombies finally get down to business by stalking this dim-witted and impossibly horny selection of twits one by one and picking off the ones idiotic enough to get themselves cornered by the slow moving ghouls.
Can any of these morons manage to stay alive as these maggoty mo-fos seemingly outwit and outmanuver them at every turn?
Make no mistake, Burial Ground is a bad, bad movie, but it’s also a seemingly endless supply of forehead slapping WTF moments that lay dotted around the usual scenes of offal fondling and head crunching. In fact it’s sort of tough to know where to start as most of the film plays out like some sort of gonzo hallucination caused by consuming handfuls of out of date medication – but I’ll do the best that I can…
First off, while Italian zombies are particularly easy to spot due to the fact that their noticably slower than their American brethren, the Bural Ground zombies move like they’re on strike or something as they don’t so much stalk their victims as simply loiter about the place like drunks in a city centre at about 3 in the morning. Still, despite their lethargic hunting methods, they somehow still manage to run rings around their prey, managing to remove the head of a particularly careless maid with a scythe as she pokes her head out of a first floor window to see if the coast is clear. Bug eyed, coated in maggots and worms and featuring dental work that resembles a smashed piano, these lumpy headed flesh eaters lumber around in broad daylight and are about as threatening as roadkill and half as pretty – but they’re far more endearing than the parade of perverts, idiots and non entities that make up the human characters. Immediately as appealing than having your ballsack waxed by an inebriated chimp, the men folk take an early lead in the race to be least appealing by spouting out thirsty dialogue like “You look like a little whore, but I like that in a girl.” or “You’re getting a raise from me alright, but it has nothing to do with money.” while the women counter by coughing up such weapons-grade nonsense as “I’ve always been terrified of the dead. I hope they leave us in peace!” and being unable to stay upright for any longer than 10 seconds the while getting persued. However, the crowing champion is the moment when one of their number suggests that they should let the zombies in just in case theres something else in the mansion they’re after (“We could stay out of their reach, they’re so slow!”) and to your genuine horror, his comrades acrually seem pretty cool with it – but even this moment of spectacular lunacy pales into insignificance in the wake of Burial Ground’s secret weapon. That of the legitimately creepy appearance of Peter Bark.
For those who didn’t know, Bark (real name Pietro Barzocchini), was a diminutive Italian actor who was hired to play the pre-teen Michael while he was allegedly around 25 and thus created one of the most bizarre subplots in Italian horror history. You see, even before the zombies descend upon this gaggle of dumb-asses, there’s something blatantly wrong with Evelyn’s thirtysomething, infant child and fairly soon we realise that the creepy little muppet (who overwhelmingly resembles a Dario Argento mini-me) has an oedipus complex the size of the fucking moon. It’s not particularly subtle either, as the zombie attack triggers the repugnant weirdo into groping his mother’s boob and yearning for the days when his was still breast fed and after she rebuffs him with a sharp slap he counters with the immortal retort: “What’s wrong? I’m your son!”. Things get even more fucked up when the pale little shit meets his end, but is resurrected as a flesh eater and is gathered to the sizable bossom of his mother only for him to bite a massive lump out of it while she screams in agony – it’s random, Italian, trash cinema at it’s most show stopping and it should rank right up there with other nasty genre moments such as the penis chopping from Cannibal Holocaust or the nipple slicing from New York Ripper, but unlike these other examples Bruial Ground is simply too poorly made to carry the same weight.
Need more proof? Then take a moment to read the Profecy Of The Spider that pops up on screen after everyone gets eaten at the end that clearly states: “The earth shall tremble… graves shall open… they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nigths of terror…”
Profecy?! Nigths!? I’m assuming the writers of this apocalyptic proclamation couldn’t be bollocked to check their spelling and it’s a final exclamation point on a movie whose horror aspects are buried alive beneath a mound of laugh inducing, mind fuckery.