Burial Ground (1981)

burial ground poster 1981 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Maggot covered zombies, potentially good set-up, grindhouse feel, intelligent zombies, creepy kid

Dumb execution of plot, so-so make-up

Movie Info

Movie Name: Burial Ground

Studio:  Esteban Cinematografica

Genre(s): Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  January 23, 1981 (West Germany)/July 9, 1981 (Italy)/December 10, 1985 (US)

MPAA Rating: Unrated

burial ground zombies tools

These zombies came prepared for work

A professor (Raimondo Barbieri) has unlocked horror from a crypt as the dead begin to walk again.  When the professor’s guests arrive, they quickly find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives in the isolated estate.  With more and more zombies rising from the grave and becoming increasingly aggressive, survival becomes less and less likely.

Directed by Andrea Bianchi, Burial Ground (Le Notti del terrore) is an Italian zombie movie.  The film goes by multiple titles including Burial Ground:  The Nights of Terror, Nights of Terror, and also Zombie 3 (a false sequel to The Night of the Living Dead series).  The film was met with mixed to negative reviews but has gained a cult following.

Zombie movies from the mid-sixties to mid-eighties were direct descendants of Romero’s shambling brain/flesh-eating dead.  The mid-eighties took a turn to a more humorous approach to the zombie and the zombie movie kind of died for a bit.  Burial Ground got in under the “comedy-zombie” wire in the United States with a release in 1985, but feels more like a movie from 1975.

burial ground michael incest pietro barzocchio

Michael…you’re not like other kids.

The movie doesn’t spend much time exploring “the whys” of the zombie attacks, but quickly just has the cast being dispatched by some of the slowest and easily killed zombies.  In that sense the movie is frustrating because the zombies’ heads seem to almost explode if touched with anything and you really want the survivors just to take up arms and start bashing zombie heads.  Instead you get a lot of running and a lot of trapped people (despite the slow crawl of the zombies).

The cast is rather generic and dubbed in U.S. versions.  The only stand out has to be the bizarre son (adult actor Pietro Barzocchio) who might have some learning disability (or is just really creepy).  One scene features him trying to make out with his mother and once he becomes “zombiefied”, he ends up biting his mother’s breast off while nursing…it is something original if nothing else.

burial ground zombies ending

Things don’t look good for a sequel starring the original cast

The visuals are a mixed bag.  Sometimes the zombie masks and make-up are pretty poor, but I do like when the zombies are portrayed as maggot covered monsters.  It gives extra horror and helps you forget some of the rubber masks.  The zombies do have an interesting twist to the normal zombie movie in that they use tools and seem to be able to think (to a somewhat annoying level when they do stuff like bash in doors with a battering ram).

Despite its failings, Burial Ground is kind of a fun grimy horror movie.  The fact that it feels like it is from the 1970s helps it because you’d realize how dated it must have looked in 1981 when it was released.  It isn’t a good movie, but the set-up is nice.  I could actually see a similar script ironed out, with fast moving zombies, and modern make-up being a potentially interesting and twisted zombie movie…in the world of remakes maybe it will happen.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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