Of all the lousy zombie movies to come out of the Italian horror boom of the late ’70s and early ’80s, there are a handful of notable entries, each with their own charms. ZOMBI 3 is a mish-mash of low-budget yet eye-catching weirdness from the combined efforts of Lucio Fulci, Bruno Mattei and TROLL 2 helmer Claudio Fragasso. HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is a trashy romp of incompetence and stock footage from Mattei and Fragasso that at least jumps around lively to the strains of Goblin music that was stolen from other movies. Umberto Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY is well-directed and energetic, yet has batshit insane plot contrivances (there aren’t any real zombies on hand, much like 28 DAYS LATER, and these…things…can use weapons and FLY PLANES) and suffers from laughably awful makeup effects.
But then there’s Andrea Bianchi’s BURIAL GROUND (aka THE NIGHTS OF TERROR). Bianchi is otherwise best-known for one of the sleaziest gialli ever made, STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER. And this is probably one of the sleaziest zombie films ever made. What can I say? The man likes his sleaze. A handful of well-to-do horndogs descend on a villa near a tomb that was recently opened, from which is emerging a whole slew of undead jerks. These, too, have rudimentary tool skills, and they proceed to get in the way of anybody trying to get it on in scenes imitating Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 (aka ZOMBIE). So everyone is sexually frustrated *and* terrified, which is how nobody wants to spend a weekend.
This, unbelievably, has better makeup effects than NIGHTMARE CITY. (But not by much — I swear that one zombie is just wearing a doctored-up Don Post mask of Boris Karloff from THE MUMMY.) The gore is extremely over the top, and the blood flows in torrents. But the main reason to watch this is to witness the odd majesty of Peter Bark. In his only film appearance, he plays Michael, the young son of Mariangela Giordano who appears to have a huge Oedipal fixation on her (to the point of despising his stepfather). The only problem is that Peter Bark is probably about 40 and is wearing an obvious toupee. Obviously cast only because of his slight stature (and because nobody wanted to make a minor act out the incestuous subplot), his wide-eyed stare, lack of acting ability and obvious age discrepancy makes his every appearance a surreal high point.
Like the other films I mentioned earlier, though, BURIAL GROUND is wildly entertaining. If you want to watch good old-fashioned slow-moving zombies actually outsmarting their human opponents (not because the zombies are intelligent, but because these people are STUPID) and unleashing rivers of grue, plus the most uncomfortable mother-son relationship since Greek tragedy, check this thing out.