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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 lynchings 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:

  • Big Bad: Dobbs, the leader and creator of the zombies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.


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