Sunday, February 5, 2012

Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (Andrea Bianchi, 1980)

Standing in the doorway of her bedroom, the look on little Michael's face as he watched his mother's current boyfriend penetrate her soft and tender places with his uncompromising penis sent shivers through my, now, I wanna say, "spine," but that doesn't quite cut it when it comes to justifying the wide array of shivers I felt while looking at little Michael leer at his spread eagle mommy. Let's just say, my entire body was engulfed with a sticky substance that smelled like pure, undiluted terror and call it a day. The next morning, we see little Michael sitting at the breakfast table with his mother, her current boyfriend, and the rest of their party, and... Oh my god! He's still wearing that look on his face. You mean to tell me that little Michael is going to be wearing that look on his face for the entire movie? Please tell he is. If so, I think I better go change into a diaper, because there's no way my pants will be dry when all is said and done. And get this, he's not even a zombie! Oh, sure, the chances of him becoming a zombie later on in the film are pretty high. But right now he's not a zombie, andto be blunthe's freaking me out. You could say that Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (a.k.a. Le Notti del Terrore) is a complete and utter failure as a zombie movie, especially when you consider the fact that the film's scariest character is a twelve year-old boy who desperately wants to stroke his mother's pithy thighs in an erotic manner. However, not only will I not say that, I'll go even one step further by saying that this film is work of absolute genius. The screaming is top-notch; the zombies, while extremely slow (even by Romaro and Fulci standards), are quite resourceful; there are a lot of close-up shots of maggots squirming around inside crusty eye sockets; the deviants in the audience have not one, not two, but three different pairs of knee-high boots to savour over the course of the film; and, last but not least, there's this little boy with an insatiable need to press his face against his mother's breasts in a non-nurturing fashion; actually, name any part of her grope-worthy anatomy, and I guarantee he'll want to dribble some of his weird ass drool all over it.

If I happen to sound giddier than usual while talking about little Michael (Peter Bark), well, that's because he pretty much saves this film from being an unmitigated disaster. Now, I'm not saying that I couldn't have salvaged the experience of watching Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror by focusing instead on something else altogether; like, for example, the three female leads or the burlap sack-inspired garments the majority of the zombies sport in this movie. In fact, I still might have to resort to doing that in the not-so distant future. But until that time comes along, I must get down on my hands and knees and thank the incest-loving overlords that live inside my tum tum for delivering little Michael, the creepiest, most perverse twelve year-old ever to wear a dark blue turtleneck sweater in an Italian zombie movie.

Of course, by praising little Michael, I risk the chance of sounding like a hypocrite. You see, I'm usually against non-zombie children being allowed to live long and prosper in zombie movies (zombie children are fine). And for me to be in favour of little Michael's presence flies in the face of everything I hold dear, zombie-wise. That being said, Peter Bark isn't your average twelve year-old. How so, you ask? Well, for one thing, Mr. Bark is probably in his mid-twenties. Also, he reminded me of Topher Grace–you know, if he had Leukemia. Okay, I understand how Peter Bark being twenty-five makes it closer to being acceptable, but how exactly does the sickly Topher Grace angle work? I'm not entirely sure, either. But trust me, it just does.

It's a good thing twentysomething Topher Grace with Leukemia shows up when he does, because up until then Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror was beyond tedious. Opening with some scientist guy with a beard poking around in some cave, the film drags like you wouldn't believe. Sure, the zombies make an appearance (they attack the scientist despite the fact that he tries to convince them that he's their friend). But as far as pre-opening credit sequences go, the prospects look pretty grim. The credits themselves aren't that interesting, either, but you'll notice that the cars are driving on the left side of the road. Which, I know, is still not that interesting. However, as most people know, Italians drive on the right side of the road. Maybe the film is supposed to take place in England (the castle and surrounding gardens were very English). Interesting, eh? Well, at least I thought so. Don't laugh, but I'm sort of proud of myself for picking up on this minor detail, as stuff like that usually goes straight over my head.

Anyway, back to the movie. Arriving at a remote castle in the middle of nowhere, three couples, and, of course, little Michael, who we get our first glimpse of while he's sitting in the backseat of his mom's car, pass through its creaky gates without a care in the world. Greeted by the castle's staff, the couples and little Michael are quickly ushered to their rooms. Damn, these people don't waste anytime, because before you know it, they're all fornicating like a bunch of small animals who have a reputation for fornicating quite frequently. Well, Janet (Karin Well) and Mark (Gianluigi Chirizzi) aren't exactly moistening the sheets, if you know what I mean (their linen's were completely devoid of recently expelled seminal fluid or tiny droplets of grool), and little Michael is sleeping all by himself. Why is little Michael all alone? It would seem that his pleasantly-shaped mother, Evelyn (Mariangela Giordano), has brought some asshole named George (Roberto Caporali) along with her. Meaning, little Michael won't be sleeping with mommy tonight (he does, however, succeed in ruining the structural fortitude of George's erection with some well-timed doorway lurking).

The other couple, Leslie (Antonella Antinori) and James (Simone Mattioli) are the only one's who allowed are to fuck in peace. The main reason for this fucking success had a lot to do with Leslie's decision to put on some dusty vintage lingerie she found languishing in the back of a closet.

Oh, and the reason Janet and Mark aren't making any fucking leeway is because Janet had a dream that involved the dead rising from their graves to feast on the living.

It's morning, and the couples and little Michael are sitting around the breakfast table. Still seething over the fact that his mother has replaced him with this George fella, little Michael shoots many looks of disdain in their general direction. Breaking off into small groups, Mark takes pictures of Janet (who looks angelic in her blue turtleneck sweater) in the castle's garden, James and Leslie frolic in the vicinity of some shrubbery, and George teaches Evelyn how to shoot a pistol (little Michael can be seen glowering in the background). As all this outdoor fun is going on, these slow-moving creatures sheathed in burlap and covered in maggots are starting to amass around the castle. Of course, none of the couples know what kind of hell is coming their way. Though, you would think that Janet might be a little on edge–you know, since she just had a dream about them. But she's too busy getting her thighs stroked to notice (all the couples have to chosen to spend the morning making out with one another either under trees or near bushes). Just in case you're wondering: yes, there's quite a lot of thigh touching in this movie.

You better get used to the pained expression on Karin Well's face, because you'll be seeing a lot of it over the course of the next seventy minutes. You see, when the undead finally do strike, they cause Mark and Janet to flee. And while doing so, Janet steps in a bear trap. Shot from every angle imaginable, Janet's agony was downright orgasmic. I didn't have a stopwatch handy, but I could have sworn that her screaming fit went on for at least five minutes straight.

As Mark struggles to free Janet, while fending off zombies at the same time, Evelyn, George, little Michael, and George's red turtleneck sweater are having zombie problems of their own. Luckily, George just happens to carrying a pistol. Only problem is, he hasn't seen Hell of the Living Dead, and ends up wasting most of his ammo by shooting them in the chest (the zombies in this movie, by the way, have yellow blood). I don't want give to away what happens next. But let's just say, the way George's bleeding organs commingled with his red turtleneck sweater as they spilled out of his body was colour coordinated bliss. Speaking of red sweaters, Leslie, whose red v-neck sweater is paired with a white skirt and a pair of white knee-high boots, and James are having issues pertaining to grabby zombies as well (it's just one of those days). But unlike Mark and Janet, their fleeing doesn't result in one of them being caught in a bear trap. In fact, it allows them to help Mark, who is still having difficulty freeing Janet's foot from the jaws of the trap.

Even though James, Mark, and Leslie demonstrated a fair amount of skill when it came time to dispatch the zombies who were threatening to eat Janet's freshly-groped thighs, it's Evelyn who displays the most zombie-killing moxie during the film's early going. Cornered inside a barn-like structure that could have been a barn, Evelyn and little Michael are harassed by a couple of ragged flesh-eaters. A quick thinking little Michael tells his mommy to set them on fire using the buckets of paint lying on the floor, which she does. If the look of discomfort on Karin Well's face was the film's best torment-based expression, the fiery guise Mariangela Giordano sports as the zombies burned was hands down the foremost when it came to looks that centred around zombie combustion.

With the exception of George and his red turtleneck sweater, all the characters manage escape their initial encounter with the zombie horde. Regrouping at the castle, the couples, including Evelyn and little Michael, barricade the door and board up the windows, and await the inevitable onslaught. The castle's maid, Kathleen (Anna Valente), learns the hard way that these zombies don't play by rules. Blessed with the ability to manipulate tools and weapons, one of the zombies is able pin Kathleen's left hand to a wooden window shutter with a knife, while his zombie pals manage to remove her head with a scythe. As the zombies feast on the servant's severed head, another zombie decides to climb the castle's wall. Is there anything these zombie's can't do?

While the zombies are banging at the castle door with axes and clubs, and James is shooting the non-door banging zombies from the relative safety of a balcony with a shotgun, Leslie checks on Janet's injured leg. Reddish and swollen, Janet's throbbing abrasion was a definite scene stealer. Yeah, you heard right. Even though it's only onscreen for less than ten seconds, I thought Janet's sprain had a certain swagger about it. As in, someone get this misshapen scrape a modeling contract, it's going places. Unfortunately, Janet puts her boot back on, and that's the last we see of her acclaimed laceration. Don't fret, though, Karin Well walks with a limp for the rest of the movie, so we can still imagine what's going on inside the humid confines of her stylish boot as she is staggering.

Now, you'd think with all these men around to protect her, that Evelyn would be content to rest on her ass-kicking laurels. Think again, pal. If a zombie even as much as looks at little Michael in a threatening manner, Evelyn will definitely have something to say about it. And she does. When the castle's library is overrun with zombies, Evelyn is forced to chop some of them up with a sword. Since decapitating the undead is exhausting work, Evelyn and little Michael decide to take a breather on one of the castle's many ornate couches. You can't really blame little Michael for being turned on by Evelyn's swordmanship (the image of Mariangela Giordano wielding a sword is a powerful one). You can, however, blame him for taking his excitement to a plane of groping truth. Some overindulgent mother-son kissing is, I guess, sort of acceptable (after all, this is Europe), but the thigh stroking was totally inappropriate.

Distracting her face with kisses, little Michael tries to sneak his hand up her camel-coloured dress without her expressed written consent. But let's get real, everyone knows Evelyn's thigh cognizance is off the charts when it comes to being aware of untoward fondling (even the slightest of breezes will send her thigh bells a ringing). Slapping her son across the face, Evelyn sends a clear message to little Michael that her thighs are off limits when it comes to gentle caressing. Running off in a sickly huff, little Michael comes across what looks like zombie Meg White. Except this chick ain't the drummer for The White Stripes, no, what she wants to do is eat little Michael for dinner. With Evelyn still trying to come to grips with her son's thigh touching escapade, who will protect little Michael from harm? Ugh, I can't think about it.

Meanwhile, the zombies outside are using a battering ram(!) to bust down the front door. And you know what that means? It's only a matter of time before these creatures are inside the castle. Sporting the exact same boot to skirt length ratio, the film's female characters will have to run for their lives if they want to survive this ordeal with their knee's intact. Yeah, that's right. The men of the Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror universe are completely useless when it comes to protecting their shapely ladyfriends from hungry zombies (their flailing extremities are always on the verge of being bitten, chewed, or worse, masticated). Oh, and as is the case with the majority of Italian exploitation movies made during this era, dubbing artist extraordinaire Carolyn De Fonseca (Women's Prison Massacre and Beyond the Darkness) provides the voice for one of the actresses doing the fleeing; this time around, it's the alluring Mariangela Giordano who gets her dialogue "De Fonsecated" (I knew it was Carolyn's voice the second she told little Michael to stop groping her inner thigh). Don't tell anyone, but my new goal in life (fuck the NFL) is to watch every single film that features the voice of Carolyn De Fonesca.

uploaded by TheFearChamber


  1. While I agree that Peter Bark is a huge factor in Burial Ground's appeal, I actually have to say I like the movie itself quite a bit. To me, it feels like an illiterate, perhaps unintentional, but nevertheless effective statement of pure nihilism. I like the dirty, nasty aesthetic and tone. Does it compare with Fulci? No. But I think it's not so much tedious as it is a minimalistic mood piece. Am I overthinking it? Probably. I'm fairy sure any art I see in the film is largely accidental, but I still love it. To each his own. Good write-up, though. Kudos! :)

  2. Gimme a helz yeah, this movie rules!

  3. Fantastic, Yum! So geeked with your take on this truly depraved relic! And I knew there was something about Topher Grace that'd struck me as uncomfortably familiar. The first time I saw this I was quite young...Though hastily strewn together for a quick buck, I speak with conviction when I say BURIAL GROUND may cause indelible psychic trauma to adolescent boys--and that's got to count for something.

  4. @Bill Thomas: Speaking of Fulci and other Italian zombie flicks made during the italo-disco era, I watched Burial Ground around the same time as Zombi and Zombie Holocaust, and the "minimalistic mood piece" was the only one I bothered to write anything about. In other words, it must have made an impact.

    @David: Hellz yeah!

    @Jerry: Holy crap! I just noticed that your icon thingy is a pic of little Michael.