Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (1981)

BurialGroundCoverThroughout the ages Man has been haunted by a single question: what the hell is an Etruscan? Is it some prehistoric warthog? An obscure religious sect that communes with trees and screws farm animals? French for trash can? Clearly, fear of the unknown is the scariest fear of them all!

Director Andrea Bianchi (Massacre, Strip Nude For Your Killer) wisely declines to shed any light on what an Etruscan is, secure in the knowledge that the mere fact that they’ll be skulking around in their crusty duds eating ugly Italians will be more than enough to leave the audience wishing they were watching some more well-known zombie movie that wasn’t so heavy on Etruscans!

Some of you bad asses out there are no doubt turning your noses up at this whole Etruscan zombie thing. Old farts dressed up like homeless people stumbling around the grounds of a Scottish country manor until they trip over some screwing Italians is just too “same old Italian zombie movie, but with Etruscans in Scotland” for you. Do you hear that? It’s Bianchi laughing at your jaded butts!

The Etruscan zombies are just the gravy, icing, whip cream, and multi-colored cake sprinkles to get you to watch his movie which is really about the tragic nature of the mother/son relationship. Just like the mystery of the Etruscans has dogged Man since time immemorial, so too has the desire of boys to pump their mothers!

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This aspect of Burial Ground is the most commented on and its most misunderstood part. A lot reviewers are derisive of the fact that the son, Michael, is played by a 25 year old rat-faced midget. And is dubbed with a high-pitched girly voice. And wears some ill-fitting, high-waisted dungarees.

Okay, I can probably grant them that last criticism. But as a child of the 1970s who frequently rocked out plaid Toughskins, I’m inclined to allow some leeway in the fashion department.

But just how does Bianchi work in his incest themes into a zombie movie? He has Michael peep his mom while she’s screwing some guy. Then he has Michael making out with his mom and attempting to cop a feel in between zombie attacks. The thought-provoking symbolism really ramps up once Michael gets killed by a zombie. You see, he has his arm ripped off which any dime store therapist can tell you is actually castration-by-proxy!

The zombie represents a mindless society’s norms and it does whatever it takes to enforce the mores we all pretend to adhere to. By killing Michael, who has broken the ultimate taboo (fingerbanging your mom during a zombie outbreak), the zombie attempts to restore order while simultaneously sending a message to others who might consider a similar transgression by eating the arm (an obvious penis substitute) of Michael. That message of course is “this arm tastes like chicken.”

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All the penetrating social commentary in the world though wouldn’t mean spit if it wasn’t gussied up with tons of zombie antics.

Bianchi again delivers, reading the minds of all the audience members who are saying to themselves “I could use a lot of close ups of rotted zombie heads with maggots and earthworms squirming on them. I also wouldn’t mind seeing their heads crushed and caved in with rocks. Close ups of bullet wounds spewing rancid toilet water out of the zombie’s chest would really hit the spot, too. And if it all could be in slow motion, that would be great!”

But the zombies also manage to get their licks in on the humans, employing a surprising amount of teamwork. There’s the maid they managed to nail to a balcony so that they can chop her head off with a scythe. You’ve also got a bunch of them taking a giant log and ramming the manor’s doors open with it. The bear trap on the grounds of the estate which one of the whores gets her foot caught in is a nifty bit of booby trapping as well.

Though I was never entirely sure what these people were doing meeting this professor at the manor, in a world where the dead walk the Earth, there’s barely enough time to stay alive, let alone explain any of it all. In fact, there was so little time to stay alive that the people involved used a pretty fluid approach to surviving. At various points during the zombie crisis, these people were trying to run out the front door, the back door, boarding up the manor, frequently splitting up, and hiding in other nearby buildings.

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It all comes to an appropriately apocalyptic showdown at the old abandoned woodworker’s shop!

A buzzsaw to the head, a woman disappearing beneath a sea of undead hands, and the midget biting off his mother’s boob complete’s Bianchi’s incendiary indictment of a consumerist post-war America where the younger and older generations conspire to engulf those worthless, perverted baby boomers and their midget-breastfeeding ways!

The closing text message on the screen at the conclusion of the film is Bianchi’s call to action – a call for Italian film industry personnel to take remedial classes in English as the misspelling of words like “nights” and “prophecy” and the abominable grammar makes you think that one of the zombies took time out from eating colons to hunt and peck this message out himself!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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