A lot of low-budget horror movies are just plain boring, either because the makers lacked the talent to create interesting movies or they just didn't care enough to try. But then there are those, like the 1981 Italian zombie thriller BURIAL GROUND (aka "The Nights of Terror"), that take you on a non-stop rollercoaster ride through Horror Land that doesn't stop until it rockets right off the rails into a brick wall.
This sucker wastes no time getting things underway: an archeologist discovers an ancient tomb beneath a monastery and accidentally releases a horde of long-decayed zombies dressed in ragged monk's robes who instantly start chowing down on him before shambling over to his nearby villa just in time to start terrorizing his weekend guests and staff. And this is all before the opening credits!
There are a few brief introductory scenes before the full-scale attack begins, in which we meet three horny couples, one with a creepy dwarf-like son named Michael who's a real mama's boy (played by 20-something actor Peter Bark). We get to see a little bedtime hanky-panky including brief nudity, with Michael walking in on his parents and throwing a fit of jealousy to see someone else gettin' jiggy with Mommy. Yikes!
So anyway, the next day Michael's parents are puttering around the villa's sculpting studio firing off their pistol (!) while the other two libininous couples cavort around making whoopee all over the verdant villa grounds, when suddenly--it's zombie time! Without warning, the beyond-rotting ambulatory corpses shuffle in from the nearby woods or start clawing their way out of the ground, causing a general panic among the warm-blooded.
These guys are ugly, too--although crudely made, the plethora of zombie masks they wear are utterly grotesque, resembling the old "shock" masks one used to see advertised in monster magazines, and festooned with squirming maggots. It looks as though the makeup department had a field day creating them all and the sheer variety is marvelous.
As the living barricade themselves in the house, the zombies prove themselves more industrious than their usual movie brethren by using such weapons as pitchforks, axes, and even scythes as they chop through boarded-up windows and climb their way to the upper-floor balconies. Once they've gained entrance, pandemoneum reigns with various members of the cast getting disemboweled and feasted upon.
Director Andrea Bianchi (MALABIMBA: THE MALICIOUS WHORE) also makes up for a lack of finesse (as per the usual cheap Italian horror flick, there's much shaky camerawork and overuse of the zoom lens) by maintaining a high energy level and lightning pace. We're allowed scant breathing time between scares before the suspense tightens up yet again with our protagonists barely avoiding death at every turn. Or not.
Another thing that distinguishes BURIAL GROUND from the standard horror fare is its genuine chill factor. That drafty old mansion gets really creepy after nightfall when the electricity goes out, and there's a real sense of menace when these shambling ghouls start to close in en masse with their hideous wormy faces and clutching claws. This effectively spooky ambience continues right up until the film's freeze-frame fadeout.
From the intial look of it, BURIAL GROUND could've gone one of two ways--boringly bad, or wonderfully bad. As it turns out, this fast-paced little powerhouse of cheapo horror filmmaking shoots right past bad and straight into being just plain awesome.
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Release date: October 25, 2016