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  Burial Ground A Bark As Bad As His Bite
Year: 1981
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Stars: Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Simone Mattioli, Antonella Antinori, Roberto Caporali, Pietro Barzocchini, Claudio Zucchet, Anna Valente, Raimondo Barbieri, Mariangela Giordano
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: A professor has been studying the Ancient Etruscan texts at this mansion house in the countryside, and has drawn some remarkable conclusions. There could be the remnants of that civilisation underneath the house itself, in the catacombs beneath the old Roman amphitheatre, so what else can he do but take his pickaxe and venture forth? However, on discovering what seems to be the section described in the tomes, he manages to set off a sliding stone panel which reveals a horde of zombies who make no bones about grabbing the hapless prof and feasting on his flesh - he'll never be able to submit a paper about this now! And to make matters worse, he invited his friends 'round for tea!

Andrea Bianchi was a director who was very industrious, as Italian schlock creators tend to be, but never got much love in response to his toil, largely because it was what could most generously be termed tat. Yet for all that cheapo dynamic, he did manage to make his efforts stick in the minds of many who witnessed them, and that was thanks to his decidedly perverse approach to trash, concocting at least one scene per movie guaranteed to get the viewer talking in a "can you believe they put that in there?" sort of way, with Burial Ground being one of his more notorious works in that vein. The reason? A little guy called Peter Bark in the credits, but known as Pietro Barzocchini to his nearest and dearest.

Now, he wasn't little because he was a child, he was little because genetics had stunted his growth, and though he was playing the twelve-year-old son of Mariangela Giordano, one of the actresses in Italy's trash scene who always seemed to be getting something terrible done to her, he still looked like what he was: a small man in his mid-twenties pretending to be a kid. Alarm bells should be ringing immediately, if even Lucio Fulci cast an actual little boy in The House by the Cemetery, then for what reason could Bianchi be casting an adult to play far younger? The answer to that was at the climax of the movie, not to spoil it but it was well-telegraphed in a sequence which definitively informed us there's never a good time to try and shag your mum.

I'm afraid Michael, as the Bark character was called, is a budding pervert, quite opposed to Bianchi of course who was old enough to know better yet threw this randomness in regardless. Perhaps he was including it as a stern warning to all would-be pervs out there given what happens to Michael, but that wasn't all that went down here, it was almost ninety minutes long so had to conjure up something to pad out the time. This turned out to be a collection of the slowest zombies known to horror fiction, and in light of the fact that the party could have simply strolled to the cars they arrived in and driven off at any time you will be wondering why they elected to hang about, mantraps in the garden notwithstanding (why a mantrap? To make sure that one character injures her leg and holds everyone back, silly).

In its favour, the undead in Burial Ground, or Le notti del terrore as it was originally called (it was also disguised as a sequel to Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters), were appropriately grotty-looking, which helped since you didn't want anyone going near them, though they did anyway. Further oddness popped up when they proved surprisingly adept with the contents of a toolbox, taking every opportunity to make use of a hammer, power saw or even a scythe that they somehow get hold of (all the better to decapitate with), something that offered a brief respite from all the dubbing artistes screaming their lungs out on the soundtrack. But if this was essentially cheap and nasty, its saving grace was how outright ludicrous it was, which could afford a generous number of unintentional laughs for those with a strong sense of humour. Other than that, it ripped off its rivals left, right and centre and the innovations it did conjure up nobody in their right minds would have considered a good idea. Electronic noodling by Elsio Mancuso and Berto Pisano (that's right, two people to create that racket).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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