In 1980, director Andrea Bianchi and writer Piero Regnoli teamed up to cash in on the post-Dawn’ zombie market. What resulted is a movie that even some hard-bitten Euro-zombie lovers place alongside Jean Rollin’s “Zombie Lake” and Jess Franco’s “Oasis of the Zombies” as the worst that living dead cinema has to offer.
Called by any of its names “Burial Ground”, “Nights of Terror” (“Le Notti Del Terrore”), can be a tough watch. It is technically slapdash, derivative to the point of outright theft and overfull with moments the serious cinephile wouldn’t even stoop to make fun of…
I love “Burial Ground”.
It is one of my favorite films and it sits next to Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’Avventura” on my Most Prized DVD’s shelf. My wife and “Burial Ground”, those are the items to grab should my home catch fire. My wife wishes I was kidding about this…I wish I was kidding about this. My cat, Soledad, who is 3rd on the list, certainly wishes I was kidding about this.
I first saw BG’ on VHS when I was 13 years old. My dad watched about 45 seconds, muttered ‘holy shit’ and left the room. I think it was the obvious dearth of quality that drove him off, but it may have been PTSD from the “Evil Dead” twig rape scene which we had watched the week prior.
I pressed on, and I found a film that spoke to me in ways I have yet to fully understand. Maybe it’s the film’s Buñuel-esque irony; where oddly populist Etruscan zombies commit acts of cannibalism on the idle rich. Just as an aside, why do zombies like organ meat so much? They frequently seem to target the abdomen; especially the intestines which may suggest there is a taste for something other than just meat amongst the newly non-dead, but I digress. Perhaps it’s the film’s trenchant portrayal of an unchecked maternal instinct’s tragic consequences that fires my engines. Actually that’s all crap, when talking about Bianchi’s low lira groaner, it’s come for the gore, stay for the sleaze.
BG’ features some of the genres most bizarre set-pieces. These include railroad-spike throwing zombies, bear traps, exploding chandeliers, a Freudian feel-up under a fresco, and the earliest recorded instance of zombie parkour. But all of that may not be as strange as the score, which is part Lexus commercial jazz and part Brian Eno asleep on his keyboard. In all seriousness, the latter half of the soundtrack is either the work of the world’s greatest Theremin player or the result of taping a wombat’s feet to a Casio SK-1 prototype.
Many of the Italian entries into the zombie sub genre carry a free association style to the proceedings; Boat, Caribbean, Zombie, Scuba, Boobies, Shark. At times it seems as if these films were made by middle school boys who just kept adding things to keep their flagpoles standing. BG’ is the ultimate spaghetti flesh feast in this regard and it is for this reason that I haven’t yet offered a synopsis for the movie. When it comes to “Burial Ground” all you need to know is: Captain Lou Albano’s badly cloned double, Etruscan tomb, Clay-faced zombies, Creepy man-boy, Oedipus, Battering ram, Monks, Boobies, Bite.
You can see why, upon turning off the VCR at the tender age of 13, I thought I had just seen a work of unfiltered genius. Nearly every twisted impulse that a pubescent boy can identify is given some run during the film’s 85 minutes.
My poor mother, who had recently been born-again (to my father’s chagrin); saw things in a different light. She walked in on the infamous final scene where Italian temptress Mariangela Giordano pays a nasty price for not weaning her 13 year old son off the teat. As the impromptu breast reduction unfolded on our TV, my mom muttered “jesus christ” and then left the room in search of my father.
Despite the disapproval of nearly everyone in my life, my love affair with BG’ has never waned. Just when I think that the open attacks of others might start to spoil the experience, I am drawn back in by the film’s lack of pretense and total abandonment of everything in favor of gut noshing and nudity. Maybe it’s nostalgia; maybe a hitch in my development; or maybe a personality disorder, but whatever the cause “Burial Ground” will forever be my perfect zombie film.