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4K UHD Review: Blue Underground’s Dead and Buried (Collector’s Edition)

Dead and Buried

Dead and Buried is resurrected beautifully to 4K UHD by the mad geniuses at Blue Underground.  The results are stunning.  

The Film

Slow burn the oft-used phrase is a nice way of saying that nothing happens until the very end.  When applied to Gary Sherman’s Dead and Buried the slow burn is more like the tightening of the screws in Alien.  Which isn’t a coincidence as Alien screenwriters Shusett and O’Bannon had a large part in its creation.  

A photographer is murdered.  A family is murdered.  Seemingly by the townspeople of the citizens of Potters Bluff.  Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) is confounded.  He searches for answers in the dense foggy night to no avail. Though he has a sneaking suspicion the town’s Corner (Jack Albertson) may have something to do with it. As he gets closer to the answers he so desperately wants he begins to learn that the truth is far more sinister than he could have ever imagined.  

There are certain plot mechanics in horror that have in the last 30-years become cliché.  One of them being the sleepy town hiding something sinister and supernatural behind it.  It allows for maximizing of scares, characters, and a minimum of cost.  Though when watching one that’s direct and pure before reminds you why there were so many cheap (both budgeted and artistically) produced.   

Dead and Buried is one of those direct from the source and it shows in every regard.  From the beautiful photography by Steven Poser to the special make-up FX by Stan Winston to the assured script by Shusett and O’Bannon there isn’t anything that isn’t up to par.  Each works in unison with director Gary Sherman to create a film that begins uneasily and ends starkly with a shocking final moment.  Sherman assured direction allows for things to play out methodically, never rushing to a conclusion or going for the cheapest of scares.  There is genuine dread imbued into the set pieces that always end with an exclamation point of gore or horrific piece of FX work that holds up even today.  

It has been well documented that the film was originally supposed to be a horror-comedy, but studio interference ruined that.  The compromise between creatives and executives actually works as long as you take it for what it is.  Dead and Buried is a classy old-school horror mystery.  Punctuated by some truly inventive practical Make-Up FX work.

The Transfer

The New 4K Restoration from the 35mm IP approved by Director of Photography Steven Poster is damn near flawless.  The work Blue Underground has done rivals their work on The Final Countdown, which is impressive, to say the least.  What Blue Underground understands more than any other Boutique label heading into the UHD market is what makes UHD so special.  It’s not sharpness but everything else that comes with 4K UHD.  It’s the color reproduction that is so acutely different than any other home video format.  The image literally glows and changes the temperature of the grading which they more than compensate for.  IT’s the amazing contrasts levels and black levels.  This transfer is one of the darkest without loss of image I have ever seen.  So much so, one wants New Line to give the keys to them for a new UHD of Fincher’s Seven.  That’s how good the work is here.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • Audio Commentary #1 with Director Gary Sherman
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Writer/Co-Producer Ronald Shusett and Actress Linda Turley
  • Audio Commentary #3 with Director of Photography Steven Poster, ASC
  • Audio Commentary #4 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Behind the Scenes of Dead & Buried
  • Dead & Buried Locations: Now & Then
  • Murders, Mystery, and Music – Interviews with Director Gary Sherman and Composer Joe Renzetti
  • The Pages of Potters Bluff – Interview with Novelization Author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  • Stan Winston’s Dead & Buried EFX
  • Robert Englund: An Early Work of Horror
  • Dan O’Bannon: Crafting Fear
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Poster & Still Galleries
  • Seven Poster’s Location Stills
  • BONUS! DEAD & BURIED Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Joe Renzetti (CHILD’S PLAY) on CD for the first time ever!

The first commentary is an archival one hosted by David Gregory with Director Gary Sherman.  The details include how Sherman came to the project, the success of Alien that begat Dead and Buried, how it started as a black comedy and changed because of the sale of the production company multiple times through the making of the film, where they shot the film, the violence and how it was done for comedic effect but as it was edited and created some truly harrowing scenes, working with Stan Winston on the project, the breakdown of the additional bits of gore in each of the scenes, how the extra gore came to be in the film, working with both James Farentino and Melody Anderson, just how deeply affected the film was with the second sale of the production company and how it changed tone in the editing by their requests for removing and adding shots, shooting day for night during certain scenes, additional scenes and examples of that, the change in music and examples, and much more.  Gregory as per usual is a great host getting his subjects to discuss the nuts and bolts of the production and the troubles.   Sherman is honest and entertaining during the track giving us a wealth of knowledge about the production.  

The second commentary track also hosted by Gregory with Co-Writer/Co-Producer Ronald Shusett and Actress Linda Turley.  Details include how Shusett came onto the project as a rewriting, how they wrote this before Alien and after its success the film got greenlit, working with Gary Sherman prior, working with John Houston on a prior project, working with character actor Jack Albertson, finding Stan Winston (thanks to Linda Turley), the nurse needle scene and how that set piece was written and its intention and eventually in the production, the work of Stan Winston in the film, Shusett’s relationship with Dan O’Bannon and how that brought him into Horror/Sci-Fi, the way they edited down the terrorizing of the family mid-film, Shusett’s love of Hitchcok and his inspiration that he took from Psycho, a discussion of both The Sixth Sense and Jacob’s Ladder, a movie novelization that Shusett help edited, how the novelization became a best seller without the movie’s release (it was delayed a year), the writers assertion that the first and second acts do not really work, his explanation of why those act do not work, the addition of the gore by Avco Embassy after they were sold, the ending, and much more.  Shusett is the primary speak with Turley adding some additional anecdotes about her experience working with Sherman.  

The third commentary track is hosted by Gregory with Director of Photography Steven Poster.  Details include how he worked with Gary Sherman before Dead and Buried as his second film, his work during preproduction (over a month before the shoot) on the visual style in the film, discussion on how the look was achieved with filters, lighting, film stock, cameras and everything else technically that achieved this very striking look, using prototype technology to achieve the low-light look high contrast grainy look of the film, working with Stan Winston, the lower budget of the production, the comparison to today’s term of “lower budget”, the interior work done to achieve the look, a great cameo by one of the stars of Willard, a discussion of how the visual style of the set pieces like the nurse needle attack, how some of the beautiful single takes were achieved, the indoor/stage-bound work and how those visuals were achieved, the lack of storyboarding and more discussions of visual style with Sherman, and much more.  There are sections of silence, but Poster gives us a truly great technical-based commentary track.  

The fourth and final track is an all-new commentary hosted by Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson.  Details include discussion of the terrible Vestron VHS release, the work of actress Lisa Blount, the work of a pre-Freddy Robert Englund, the work of James Farrentino, their first viewing of the film and their initial impressions, the movie novelization (which Shusett discusses), the way that novelization was a hit and how it ruined the plot and mystery and how this could have affected the box office, Avco Embassy as a production entity in the 1980s, the hiring of Gary Sherman as a director and his previous work, a side conversation about the possibility of Death Line starring with Marlon Brando, the script development and how things shifted, the “original” edit of the film (which is gone now), how The Fog had a similar trouble post-production process (also from Avco Embassy), eyeball violence in films during this era including a ton of Fulci films, the way the film is structured as a mystery, the career of Gary Sherman, the work of Stan Winston, the work and career of Melody Anderson, the original script and screenwriters Alex Stern and Jeff Millar, bringing on Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, a discussion about 4K remasters and certain people’s critiques about film’s being “cleaned up”, and much more.  As with all of their commentary tracks Howarth and Thompson produced an entertaining and informative track that references more than the production, the film, and its release giving us context to where this film lines up in the horror Patheon.

Behind the Scenes of Dead & Buried (33:18) – is an all-new featurette hosted by director Gary Sherman, which is 8mm footage taken on set. Whittled down from 15-hours of footage the 33-minutes of footage comes soundless but Sherman along with Cinematographer Steve Poster, 1st AD Brain Frankish, and PA Dustin Bernard provide commentary.  Those that love this move or archival footage from productions are going to eat this up.  The footage is helpfully divided into 7-chapter stops for your convenience.  You get some great footage of preproduction, a birthday, production, some of the films removed from the film, and some of the FX work done by Stan Winston.  The commentary they provide is great and gives some truly enlightening factoids including a very enlightening conversation about profit sharing. Blue Underground has restored the 8mm footage and it looks gorgeous.  

Dead & Buried Locations: Now & Then (3:57) – is an all-new featurette that compares the various production locations in the film to them today in Mendocino California which doubled for the fictional Potter’s Bluff.  There are no comments only the film’s score with scenes from the film edited smartly with the footage they shot today.  

Murders, Mystery, and Music – Interviews with Director Gary Sherman and Composer Joe Renzetti (15:16) – the all-new interview with Sherman and Renzetti, who were filmed together, discuss no only Dead and Buried but other films they have worked together on.  The interview covers how they approach their work together on films and specifically this one.  Details include Renzetti winning the Oscar, how they met, the choice of music and musical style for the film, and more.  

The Pages of Potters Bluff – Interview with Novelization Author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (12:49) – is an all-new interview with the Yarbro who’s novelization was a best seller and came out well before the film.  Details include how she approached the novelization, how she got the job from her publisher, and much more.  There are some great quotes from her novelization superimposed on scenes from the film, which is a great touch for those of us that haven’t read the book.

Stan Winston’s Dead & Buried EFX (17:38) – is an archival interview with Stan Winston about the EFX of not just Dead and Buried but the first part of his career and much more.  Details include Winston’s love of horror films and leading to his love of Makeup FX, a history of horror films from Winston’s perspective, his work on the production, the various set pieces, and more.  There are some great behind-the-scenes photos of Winston’s work. 

Robert Englund: An Early Work of Horror (12:25) – is an archival interview with actor Robert Englund.  The details include Englund’s discussion about where he was an actor in the early ’80s after having worked with the likes of Bob Rafelson in the ’70s, how he got the part in Dead and Buried, working in Northern California for the film, and much more.  Englund, which all horror fans know, is a delightful interview, and here is no exception.  

Dan O’Bannon: Crafting Fear (14:26) – is an archival interview with the co-screenwriter of Dead and Buried. O’Bannon begins with a discussion of how he and Schusett came to work together as a duo on Alien and eventually Dead and Buried. Details include his distaste for horror films (which is shocking considering this filmography), what he loved specifically about the genre, how they attached themselves to this project, how Sherman came onto the project, the strange world of screenplay credit, O’Bannon’s lack of contribution, and much more.  

Theatrical Trailers (4:55) – Three trailers are included; International Trailer (2:30), US Trailer (1:55), Teaser Trailer (0:30).  Not all three have been beautifully restored in 4K.  

Poster & Still Galleries – has been broken down into 7 different sections:

  • Posters (10:00) – 20 various posters from around the world. The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Advertising Materials (9:30) – 19 various pieces of advertising for the film. The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Japanese Souvenir Program (11:00) – 22 stills producing the program given out during the initial release for Dead and Buried in Japan. The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Lobby Cards (40:02) – 80 various lobby cards from around the world.  The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Stills (25:01) – 50 various stills from the production.  The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Stan Winston’s FX (15:00) – 30 still photographs taken by Stan Winston and associates of the various Makeup FX and different FX work done for the production.  The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  
  • Video and Book (14:30) – 29 stills of the various VHS, LD, DVD, and Blu-Ray’s from around the world.  The gallery can navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  

Steven Poster’s Location Stills (1940) – 35 stills taken by Steven Poster.  Beginning with an introduction written by Poster the stills can be navigated by using your remote’s next chapter button or allowing it to run automatically.  

DEAD & BURIED Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Joe Renzetti (CHILD’S PLAY) on CD for the first time ever! (44:13) – like they’ve done before on their limited edition 4K Sets (Daughters of Darkness and The Final Countdown) they’ve included the entire soundtrack on CD.  The 17 track CD even includes a few bonus tracks.  This is definitely an added value bonus to an already stacked release.  

The Final Thought 

Dead and Buried is beautifully restored in 4K UHD glory.  Blue Underground continues to set the standard on 4K UHD releases.  Highest possible recommendations for all Horror Fans!!! 

Blue Underground’s 4K UHD edition of Dead and Buried is out now

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