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Film / Dead & Buried

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"You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can't. You can only make me dead."

Dead & Buried is a 1981 horror film directed by Gary Sherman and written by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon (the writers of Alien).

Dan Gillis (James Farentino) is a detective in the small, sleepy, peaceful New England town of Potter's Bluff. One day, grisly mob killings start being committed against tourists passing through, only for the victims to then appear alive again living normal lives within the town. Dan investigates. Meanwhile, the town's mortician, William Dobbs (Jack Albertson), seems a little too happy about the killings... and Dan's wife, Janet (Melody Anderson), keeps disappearing at night.

The film has a reputation as one of the better, genuinely scary films on Britain's Video Nasties list (even Leonard Maltin praises it). It is also known for a twist ending that would give M. Night Shyamalan a run for his money.

This film provides examples of:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Within a minute of meeting George/Freddy, the Girl on the Beach is flashing her breasts at him . Subverted, since she's doing it deliberately to keep his attention while the townspeople sneak up on George and beat him.
  • Artificial Zombie: The townspeople, all of whom (yes, ''all'') have been reanimated as incredibly life-like undead by Dobbs, are likely this, although he never reveals whether he used science, magic, or a mix of both to to achieve it.
  • Big Bad: Dobbs, the leader and creator of the zombies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dan is scratching his hands in several shots, starting when he meets with the undead doctor. This foreshadows the end when Dan is revealed as undead, and his hands are peeling.
  • Creepy Mortician: Dobbs, who is bit too into making corpses presentable.
  • Dead All Along: Janet. And Dobbs. And Dan. Actually, pretty much everyone.
  • Eye Scream: After being burned alive, George finds himself in a new predicament: he is unable to move in his hospital bed as a nurse is going to stick a needle in his only good eye.
  • Head Crushing: In one of the mob killings, the victim is killed by having a large rock dropped on their head.
  • Helping Hands: When Dan runs over one of the undead killers, his hand gets stuck in the grill while moving by itself.
  • Here We Go Again!: The ending reveals that Dan and Dobbs have played out these events many times before, always ending in the same Tomato in the Mirror revelation and the wiping of Dan's memory so he can go right back to solving the mystery again.
  • Mad Doctor: Dobbs, who has revived people from the dead as zombies that obey him and believe only what he tells them so they will be eternally beautiful.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Dobbs flat-out tells Dan he won’t tell him how he creates the zombies, noting that it could either be witchcraft or some new form of science he had invented.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Girl on Beach unbuttons her shirt and shows her naked breasts to George/Freddie to draw his attention, even though she already has it.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When there's someone to be killed, the townspeople inevitably appear en masse, even when they couldn't know what is happening. This also happens near the end, when Dan shoots Janet. She buries herself in a grave, and all the townspeople show up to pay their respects.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They are created either from witchcraft or science, and become devoted slaves to their master, who can give them completely new identities if he so wishes. Zombies are unaware of their undead nature until their creator gives them orders. Zombies can also only be created by reviving someone who had gone through a violent death.
  • Red Herring: Hints that Janet is responsible for the killings is dropped throughout the film, but it turns out that it was all Dobbs' doing.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The twist ending is that the residents of the town are zombies resurrected by Dobbs, who has been ordering them to kill the tourists to create more. And Dan is one of said zombies.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Potter’s Bluff, which is composed entirely of zombies. Who kill tourists and passersby to add to their numbers.
  • Wham Shot: The very last image in the film, when Dan learns the truth about himself.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The townspeople don't hesitate to attack Jamie along with his mother and father at the house. And he is seen as one of said townsfolk later on.