Director – Gerard Kikoine (Dragonard, Edge of Sanity)
Starring – Robert Vaughn (Transylvania Twist, Superman III), Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Prince of Darkness), and Karen Lorre (The X-Files, Sliders)
Release Date – 1989
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
The works of Edgar Allan Poe is legendary among literary and horror fans. His work has stood the test of time and has become adapted into film and television countless times. Some of these adaptations were phenomenal while others were rushed just to cash in on their namesake. While Two Evil Eyes and Murders in the Rue Morgue are one of the few adaptations of his that I enjoy, I’m a firm believer that the best adaptation of his work came in the form of a Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror episode. While I’m not an avid fan of his I keep an eye out for others that have missed my radar.
One case in point is the 1989 film Buried Alive. Not the be confused with the 1990 film of the same name, this Edgar Allan Poe release found it’s way to blu courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome. I had no idea it existed until Vin Syn announced this release. Like all other releases from Vin Syn, I had to snag it and couldn’t wait to check it out.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a female educator who is brought into an all-female institute for teens with troubled pasts. She arrives at a time where a few of the girls are missing and because they are not bound to the property the staff just assumes, they left on their own accord. However, she soon starts to suspect something more sinister is a foot when strange things happen before coming face to face with a mad man wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. **Spoiler Alert**
Buried Alive is not a film that will stick with you. Hell, it’s not even a good film but I did find myself liking it more than should have. It’s cheesy but not in the 80s cheese than you would expect. It almost feels like a made for television movie with elements borrowed from Poe and performances that match a day time soap. It’s not perfect but it’s a decent first-time watch.
The acting in this one is extremely uneven but enjoyable nonetheless. Karen Witter (Lore) is a strong female lead that I was not too familiar with before watching the film. After digging through her imdb I noticed she was in a handful of films I had reviewed in the past, but her performances didn’t really stand out to me. Same can be said here. She’s a strong female lead but the cliched and generic character she brought to life was easily forgettable. Robert Vaughn plays the same character you’ve seen him play in countless movies. He doesn’t try to mix it up with a memorable personality or something that makes his performance stand out from his others.
At this point, I’m sure he’s the same character in every movie and they are all part of the Vaughnverse. The performance that really caught me off guard was from Donald Pleasence. His portrayal of Dr. Schaeffer was not what I was expecting. We’ve all seen him portray a doctor of some sort in previous films with Dr. Loomis being the most memorable. However, this performance was nothing like that and had me in stitches during most of his scenes.
The story for this one is plain but the nods to Poe’s writings is evident. The killer walling up his victims and the random black cat are the obvious ones. I’m not a Poe scholar and that’s the only ones that I picked up on. I’m sure ants were another one, but I can’t pinpoint which one of his stories they are from. The film itself does struggle with pacing issues with some scenes being drawn out by lengthy dialogue or Vaughn trying to score with Lore. These scenes could have been trimmed down to benefit the film.
Finally, the film has several deaths, but they are not the focus of the film. We get some blood but those of you expecting a slasher like kill with the fun effects will be very disappointed. Overall, Buried Alive is not a film that will stick with you or making top ten lists from genre fans but it is a solid first time watch. I want to thank Vin Syn for bringing this forgotten film to us. Check it out but keep in mind that it is far from perfect.
Region A Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 2K from its 35mm interpositive
“Ginger’s Antics” (13 min) – an interview with actress Ginger Lynn Allen
“Well, I Wanna Be An Actor” (19 min) – an interview with actor William Butler
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles