Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dead & Buried (1981)

The people of Potter's Bluff, a small New England seaside burg, do not take kindly to strangers (or so it would seem). The townsfolks penchant for brutally murdering any visitors that happen to find their way within its limits is a pretty good indicator. However, a short time later, the recently deceased tourists show up alive around town with new identities and no memory of their previous lives outside of Potter's Bluff. This is not to say that the entire populace is behind this particular brand of malevolence as the town sheriff appears to be unaware of the local past time and goes about investigating the savage deaths. With the assistance of the humorously macabre town coroner, the sheriff slowly uncovers the town's secrets leading to a somewhat fulfilling twist.

There are few films that can overcome the shortfalls of their story, but Dead & Buried does precisely that. The final reveal is suitably haunting though far too convenient for what it has been led up to. I will leave most of the specific details out for the uninitiated, but will say that the explanation for how the citizens came to be, most specifically, their complete lack of memory function, serves only to lazily fill numerous plot holes.

Be that as it may, the atmosphere that is created around Potter's Bluff through lighting and a truly astounding use of fog (apparently taking cues from, well, The Fog (1980)) is exceptional and from the first reel, gives the whole picture an otherworldly feel to it. There is clearly something amiss well before the first tourist is burned at the stake and this uneasiness created does not let up.

Much credit should also be given to the character of Dobbs, the town coroner who above all other eccentricities, shows what can only be described as 'restrained giddiness' each time a freshly disfigured corpse finds its way to his steel slab. There is little doubt that this man revels in his work and this inclusion of black humor is almost always welcome amongst the horror elements.

Still, the question remains, as is usually the case with the dreaded "twist ending," was it really necessary?


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