Dead & Buried (1981)

R | 95 mins | Horror | 9 October 1981

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HISTORY

An article in the 13 Jul 1981 DV reported that producer Robert Fentress bought the Dead & Buried story from Jeff Millar and Alex Stern. Subsequently, Fentress was introduced to producer Ronald Shusett through an agent, Michael Werner. In addition to producing the film with Fentress, Shusett co-wrote the screenplay with Dan O’Bannon, whom he had worked with on Alien (1979, see entry).
       A brief in the 9 Nov 1979 HR announced that Film Finance Group, a division of the Guinness Film Group, was funding the production. On 18 Feb 1981, however, Var stated that Film Finance Group president Richard R. St. Johns was resigning but would remain on the board and continue to serve as executive producer of Dead & Buried. Several months later, the 13 May 1981 Var and 13 Jul 1981 DV noted that the Guinness Film Group had reformed as the Morrison Group which included the Producers Sales Organization (PSO) and Aspen Productions, the production company credited onscreen. According to Shusett, PSO exploited Shusett and O’Bannon’s connection as the writers of Alien to pre-sell distribution rights to foreign territories, grossing enough capital to finance half the budget before principal photography began. An item in the 14 Apr 1980 HR added that the film was pre-sold without any information regarding the script.
       Various contemporary sources listed the film’s budget between $5 and $6 million, with Stan Winston’s make-up effects budgeted between $150,000 to $200,000, as stated in the 13 Jul 1981 DV.
       ... More Less

An article in the 13 Jul 1981 DV reported that producer Robert Fentress bought the Dead & Buried story from Jeff Millar and Alex Stern. Subsequently, Fentress was introduced to producer Ronald Shusett through an agent, Michael Werner. In addition to producing the film with Fentress, Shusett co-wrote the screenplay with Dan O’Bannon, whom he had worked with on Alien (1979, see entry).
       A brief in the 9 Nov 1979 HR announced that Film Finance Group, a division of the Guinness Film Group, was funding the production. On 18 Feb 1981, however, Var stated that Film Finance Group president Richard R. St. Johns was resigning but would remain on the board and continue to serve as executive producer of Dead & Buried. Several months later, the 13 May 1981 Var and 13 Jul 1981 DV noted that the Guinness Film Group had reformed as the Morrison Group which included the Producers Sales Organization (PSO) and Aspen Productions, the production company credited onscreen. According to Shusett, PSO exploited Shusett and O’Bannon’s connection as the writers of Alien to pre-sell distribution rights to foreign territories, grossing enough capital to finance half the budget before principal photography began. An item in the 14 Apr 1980 HR added that the film was pre-sold without any information regarding the script.
       Various contemporary sources listed the film’s budget between $5 and $6 million, with Stan Winston’s make-up effects budgeted between $150,000 to $200,000, as stated in the 13 Jul 1981 DV.
       According to a 30 Jan 1980 Var news item, principal photography was scheduled to begin 12 Feb 1980 and the 14 Apr 1980 HR noted that production was currently underway in Mendocino, CA, and Hollywood, CA. An item in the 5 Mar 1980 LAHExam reported that the film was still shooting in Mendocino with a closed set because the story was being kept a secret. Although the film’s plot was kept under wraps, a tie-in novel revealing the story was promoted prior to the film’s release, as noted in 28 Jan 1980 and 19 Nov 1980 HR briefs.
       Various contemporary sources claimed the film would be released in fall 1980, but an item in the 13 May 1981 Var reported Avco Embassy Pictures acquired the rights to domestic distribution, network television and syndication sales for the film. According to the 22 May 1981 HR, Dead & Buried was scheduled to premiere at the Fantasma-Con science fiction convention in Los Angeles, CA, during Memorial Day weekend, 23-25 May 1981. While the 3 Jun 1981 Var review noted a Chicago, IL, release date of 29 May 1981, the 10 Oct 1981 NYT review reported a New York City opening of 9 Oct 1981, and production notes in AMPAS library files listed a Los Angeles, CA, release on 13 Nov 1981. An article in the 9--15 Dec 1981 Village Voice listed Dead & Buried as a Fall 1981 release and a “disaster.”
       An item in the 26 Mar 1980 Var noted that Lisa Marie made her feature film debut in Dead & Buried. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1981.
---
LAHExam
5 Mar 1980.
---
New York Times
10 Oct 1981
p. 16.
Variety
30 Jan 1980.
---
Variety
26 Mar 1980.
---
Variety
18 Feb 1981.
---
Variety
13 May 1981.
---
Variety
3 Jun 1981.
---
Village Voice
9-15 Dec 1981.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Richard R. St. Johns Presents
A Ronald Shusett Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Based upon a story
Based upon a story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Lighting gaffer
Lighting best boy
Dolly grip
Grip best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Leadman
Const foreman
Prop maker
COSTUMES
Cost
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Mus scoring facility
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Sd mixer
Boom man
2d boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Sd post prod
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup eff des
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup lab tech
Sculptor
Spec wigs
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod services
Prod administrator
Casting
Post prod exec
Mr. Albertson's dial coach
Prod asst
Prod coord
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Paymaster
Loc coord
Process coord
Prod exec
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Advertising & promotion
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Farentino
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1981
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 October 1981
Los Angeles opening: 13 November 1981
Production Date:
began 12 February 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Barclay's Mercantile Industrial Finance, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
27 January 1982
Copyright Number:
PA127242
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®; Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26095
SYNOPSIS

The small beach community of Potters Bluff advertises “A New Way of Life.” George Le Moyne, a vacationing photographer, snaps photographs on the beach when an attractive girl approaches. She says his name should be “Freddie,” he calls her “Lisa,” and she poses for him until they are surrounded by townspeople. The girl takes his camera and others in the crowd take pictures as George is beaten, tied up and set on fire. Later, Sheriff Dan Gillis examines the site of a car accident with George’s burned body inside. William G. Dobbs, an elderly coroner-mortician, arrives from his funeral home, but as Dobbs examines the body, George screams and is rushed to the hospital. The next morning, Sheriff Gillis stops at the diner and locals ask about the unknown victim. As Gillis informs them that the man is in the hospital, he is served coffee by Midge, the waitress who set George on fire. That night, an intoxicated fisherman is murdered by townspeople, who once again record the event. The next day, when Sheriff Gillis asks hotel proprietor Ben if any guests have disappeared, the lawman is shown George’s room. Ben claims that the sheriff’s wife, Janet Gillis, visited the photographer yesterday. When Gillis queries Janet, she admits to buying photographic equipment for the school where she teaches. Later, Gillis runs into the principal, Mr. Haskell, who denies purchasing equipment. At the hospital, George is awake, but only his left eye and mouth are not charred. As Gillis and the doctor speak in the hallway, “Lisa” sneaks into George’s room and kills him with a hypodermic ... +


The small beach community of Potters Bluff advertises “A New Way of Life.” George Le Moyne, a vacationing photographer, snaps photographs on the beach when an attractive girl approaches. She says his name should be “Freddie,” he calls her “Lisa,” and she poses for him until they are surrounded by townspeople. The girl takes his camera and others in the crowd take pictures as George is beaten, tied up and set on fire. Later, Sheriff Dan Gillis examines the site of a car accident with George’s burned body inside. William G. Dobbs, an elderly coroner-mortician, arrives from his funeral home, but as Dobbs examines the body, George screams and is rushed to the hospital. The next morning, Sheriff Gillis stops at the diner and locals ask about the unknown victim. As Gillis informs them that the man is in the hospital, he is served coffee by Midge, the waitress who set George on fire. That night, an intoxicated fisherman is murdered by townspeople, who once again record the event. The next day, when Sheriff Gillis asks hotel proprietor Ben if any guests have disappeared, the lawman is shown George’s room. Ben claims that the sheriff’s wife, Janet Gillis, visited the photographer yesterday. When Gillis queries Janet, she admits to buying photographic equipment for the school where she teaches. Later, Gillis runs into the principal, Mr. Haskell, who denies purchasing equipment. At the hospital, George is awake, but only his left eye and mouth are not charred. As Gillis and the doctor speak in the hallway, “Lisa” sneaks into George’s room and kills him with a hypodermic needle into the eye. Later, at George’s graveside, coroner Dobbs is angry that he was not allowed to work his “magic,” restoring George for viewing. That night, before Janet leaves for a PTA meeting, she hands her husband film that her students shot for a class project and asks him to drop it off to be developed. Meanwhile, a family of three stops at the diner to ask for directions and Midge refers them to “Freddie,” a gas station attendant who resembles burn victim George LeMoyne, but in perfect condition. As the family drives through the fog, an unidentified creature runs in front of their car and they crash. They go for help at a nearby house, which is seemingly deserted until the family is surrounded by townspeople. The couple and their young son escape, but as they drive away, a woman in the back seat attacks the boy. The couple grabs their child, ripping the woman’s hair and revealing stitches on her scalp. She is thrown from the car as it speeds off. Meanwhile, driving the deserted streets, Sheriff Gillis is startled as the family’s car races past. He follows but hits a pedestrian. Gillis gets out to investigate and finds the man’s severed arm on the front grille of his car. The injured man sits up, hits Gillis, grabs the arm and runs away. The sheriff rushes home to get ammunition, but instead of bullets, he finds a book on witchcraft and voodoo. He confronts Janet who plans to lecture her students on witchcraft. The next day, Gillis drops off his wife's students’ film with Ernie and insists only he can pick it up. Later, the sheriff gets a phone call from tow-truck driver, Harry, as he pulls a car from the ocean. The car is empty, except for a child’s toy airplane. Gillis pulls skin from the grille of his car and asks the doctor to analyze it. The hotel proprietor, Ben, tells Gillis that he saw George LeMoyne, as “Freddie,” at the gas station and wants Janet to verify the man is actually George. In her classroom, Janet lectures on voodoo, explaining that the “walking dead” closely imitate the living but are completely at the will of their master, who maintains control by hiding the person’s heart. One of her students is the boy who tried to escape with his parents the previous night. Gillis arrives and questions his wife why Principal Haskell was unaware of the photographic equipment purchase, but Janet claims it was a surprise gift for Haskell from the PTA. When they reach the gas station, Janet does not recognize “Freddie.” Across town, a female hitchhiker accepts a ride into Potters Bluff, but the driver is the recently murdered fisherman and her skull is crushed by townspeople. At the funeral home, Dobbs restores the hitchhiker’s beauty with sculpting, makeup and a new eyeball. After Dobbs leaves, a shadowy figure appears, touches the corpse and she sits up. Elsewhere, the doctor informs Sheriff Gillis that the flesh from the car’s grille has been dead for three months. Later, as the doctor studies the flesh under a microscope, townsfolk murder him by shoving tubes of acid in his nose. The next morning, Dobbs arrives at the sheriff’s office and is frantic that the hitchhiker’s body is missing, but he does not want to tell anyone because it will ruin his reputation. Gillis is further confused when Dobbs claims that Janet visited him several times, assuming the undertaker knew about voodoo. A short time later, Gillis learns that the St. Louis police have identified George LeMoyne and want the body. At the cemetery, Gillis tires of waiting for Dobbs and asks the gravedigger, Sam, to dig up George’s grave. As Sam digs, Sheriff Gillis searches the funeral home, but does not find Dobbs, who is resting in one of the corpse drawers. At the gravesite, Gillis and Sam open the casket to discover only a heart inside. Gillis orders Betty to contact the Rhode Island police for information on Dobbs and she learns that the coroner was dismissed from the Rhode Island medical society for unauthorized use of corpses. Gillis picks up the film from Ernie and watches footage of his wife having sex with a man before stabbing him as townspeople photograph the scene and Dobbs watches. Gillis races to the funeral home where Dobbs screens films of all the murders. Dobbs admits that Janet was his first and greatest creation, but will not reveal his secret method despite Gillis’s threats to shoot him. When Janet arrives, acting as if nothing is amiss, Dobbs insists the dead only have the memories he gives them. Part of Janet’s skin comes off in Gillis’s hand, and he shoots her. Unhurt, she leaves. Gillis shoots Dobbs and follows Janet to the graveyard, where she climbs into George’s grave. She begs Gillis to bury her and insists she loves him as he gently drops dirt on her. Meanwhile, Dobbs shoves embalming tubes in his own stomach. Outside, the townsfolk zombies, in various stages of disrepair, surround Gillis. Shocked to realize everyone is involved, he returns to the morgue where Dobbs, seemingly alive, awaits. Dobbs turns the sheriff’s attention to the screen, where Gillis sees that he himself is Janet’s murdered lover and comes to realize that he is also dead. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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