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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 19th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1981

Burial Ground - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray [UK Import]

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman
Fans of reanimated corpses delight, Andrea Bianchi's 1981 Italian zombie classic Burial Ground takes a big bite of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Loaded with flesh-ripping gore and oodles of T&A, 88 Films delivers an excellent 2-disc 4K disc with an impressive Dolby Vision Transfer, clean audio, and a graveyard loaded with bonus features. It's gnarly, cheeky (in more ways than one), and a heck of a flick for any horror hound's collection - let alone on 4K disc. Recommended

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K BLU-RAY + BLU-RAY
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p/HEVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English/Italian: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
Optional English and English SDH subtitles for the main feature
Release Date:
June 19th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Since our pal Sam Cohen is reviewing the domestic 4K release from Severin, I thought this would be a good time to take a gander at 88 Film's U.K. release of Burial Ground

Some of the best movie-watching experiences of my life have been happy accidents. Couldn't get tickets to one film, went and saw another and it was amazing. Ordering the wrong movie on Pay-Per-View turns out to be a new classic. Someone returns the wrong tape in the wrong box - well, that's my benefit too. You see kids, way back when there used to be these places called "Video Rental Stores." These were big buildings that would have a bunch of movies on a physical media format called "tapes," sometimes many thousands of them, and these places rented movies on tapes that you could take home for a night or two, and then return when you were done. Sometimes when these "tapes" came back, people would accidentally put them in the wrong box. And if the clerk wasn't paying attention when checking them in, other people would end up renting the wrong movie. That's how I discovered Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground

After discovering Night of the Living Dead I went on a tear devouring any and all zombie movies that I could find. Romero led to Fulchi, Fulchi led to Peter Jackson, and Peter Jackson accidentally led me to Andrea Bianchi and Burial Ground. Being a gorehound at an early age, I was gleefully delighted when I discovered Dead Alive (Braindead for those outside the U.S.), and I would lovingly expose my friends to it whenever I could. In one instance, someone dropped the wrong tape in the box, the cashier at Blockbuster didn't check, and Bob's your uncle, we were watching Burial Ground instead. Normally something like that would piss me off, but in this instance, it was a hilariously deliriously gore-filled blessing. Watching a movie this wild for the first time ever in my life in the middle of the night loaded to the gills on Pringles, Oreos, and liters of Mountain Dew was a true highlight of my misspent youth.

And it's remained a favorite ever since. I love that the movie knows what it is and just goes for it. Bianchi wasn't exactly a "quality" filmmaker. He knew what he was making and who he was making it for. The weirdest wildest ideas were executed on celluloid with fearless aplomb. For a more thorough take on the film, here's what Sam has to say for his review:

First things first: Andrea Bianchi’s Burial Ground is the kind of Italian sleazefest that it’s been properly derided for being, however that’s also the film’s biggest strength. This is the kind of Italian production with flat, staid and overlit interior lighting, exteriors with fuzzy grain and a heaping helping of gross-out insanity that makes a video nasty so famous. Understandably, this kind of work isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. It’s just that in a flagging Italian horror circuit of the early 1980s filled with filmmakers trying to outdo one another with grotesquerie, Bianchi was the reigning champion of bad taste.

Burial Ground dispenses with classic plot mechanisms to provide a wild, gut-chomping time. Professor Ayres (Benito Barbieri) discovers a secret ancient crypt near a capacious mansion, opens it and is immediately eaten by some zombies. But now that the crypt is open, the mansion’s unsuspecting patrons are in for a night of true terror. Three different couples, with one of them bringing their 13-year-old son Michael (Peter Bark), arrive at the estate for a nice weekend away. Soon, the couples start having sex and wake up the countless zombies buried underneath the mansion. You see, the mansion was built on a burial ground.

If we’re to compare Bianchi’s work here to his fellow Italian sleaze peers like Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, then Bianchi excels at excising the fat that Mattei and Fragasso would pad their plots with to deliver the kind of egregious entertainment that Italian horror is known for. That even extends to the whacked-out characterizations, like the incestuous child played by Peter Bark. In another director’s hands, this would be the primary focus and delivery system of sleaze. But in Bianchi’s, it’s intelligently used as a well-crafted setup and hugely insane climax. Burial Ground doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, nor does it really follow any standard story structure. In short, it’s the incidents that draw audience attention, and boy howdy is there a lot of egregious violence to be seen.

Burial Ground also has the added benefit of having the overbaked, overlit interiors and exteriors that became so common in Italian genre filmmaking. These very sparsely detailed and flat frames provide the funniest dissonance between zombie action and the soapy human drama. It’s Italian exploitation at its best, in that its faults are often the most engaging parts of the work. The way the bloodletting hilariously interrupts the story is in itself the draw to such sleazy fun. 

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Burial Ground digs itself up from the depths with a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray release from 88 Films. The 4K UHD is pressed on a BD-66 with a BD-50 serving up the 1080p version and bonus features. The discs are housed in a black two-disc case with individual trays, so no stacking of discs. The case offers up alternate insert art depicting the original Italian poster while the slipcover sports the new custom art. Also included in the set is a reversible poster and a 40-page booklet with essays, photos, and other materials. Each disc loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. 

Video Review

Ranking:

Comparing notes with Sam for his coverage of Severin's release, it would seem fans get to benefit from the same great transfer regardless which version they pick up. And it is a beast. The best-surviving elements for this film is a 35mm Blowup Interpositive, the original 16mm negative is no longer available. But even for a blow up, this is quite something. Some of the optical effects like credit titles, some transitions, and it looks like there were some optical zooms in there too, the image can get a little smeary, and a little soft, but otherwise, this is an impressively detailed presentation. Much better than I've seen in many years. The Dolby Vision grading is also a nice benefit for the film giving those reds some extra care and attention. Black levels are nice and deep and mostly hold up well. There are a couple of dodgy spots here and there, but nothing to get too worried about. All around a great-looking disc for a gnarly flick! 

Audio Review

Ranking:

Keeping things fun, this disc comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono English track and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono Italian (with English Subs) track. Both are great for what they offer. Traditionally I usually like to keep to the language of the native country, but in this case, I do have to tip a hat to the English dubbing. You watch enough dubbed Italian films and keep hearing the same voices, it's like warm auditory hot cocoa. Sound effects are strong with that lovely canned quality. Dialog is clean for both tracks, and the film's great score sounds spot on. 

Special Features

Ranking:

In grand form, this film comes with a nice selection of old and new bonus features. The big highlight for me was the new audio commentary with Nathaniel Thompson, Troy Howarth, and Eugenio Ercolani. It's a very entertaining track, it starts out with an Alan Moore joke and the roll of trivia and entertainment value rolls on from there. After that we have another great track with Callum Waddell and John Martin followed by several great featurettes and interviews. Add it to the "cool" pile of extras is an extremely rough "Grindhouse Version" sourced from a very damaged 35mm Blowup print that starts out very differently from the main feature.

4K UHD Disc

  • Audio commentary with Nathaniel Thompson, Troy Howarth, and Eugenio Ercolani
  • Audio commentary with Callum Waddell and John Martin

Blu-ray Disc

  • 35mm Blowup Print "Grindhouse Version" (HD 1:24:19)
  • Audio commentary with Nathaniel Thompson, Troy Howarth, and Eugenio Ercolani
  • Audio commentary with Callum Waddell and John Martin
  • Return to the Burial Ground - Interview with Peter Bark at Villa Parisi (HD 13:51)
  • The Borders of the Extreme - Interview with Eugenio Ercolani (HD 22:44)
  • Zom,bie and Melodies - An Interview with Pierpaolo De Sanctis (HD 27:58)
  • What the Fuck?: The Films of Andrea Bianchi - Interview with Mikel Koven (HD 26:40)
  • Italian Credits Sequence
  • Deleted Scenes/Trims (HD 9:18)
  • Theatrical trailer 

Need ample gore and zombie violence? Need a bunch of crazy, weirdly timed nudity? Need both of those elements at the same time? Look no further than Andrea Bianchi's 1981 Italian zombie classic Burial Ground. My first viewing was an accident thanks to a lazy video store clerk, and I've never seen anything quite like it since! Sure there are other zombie movies with tons of nudity and gore, but there's one scene in this film that I don't think you're going to find anywhere else! 88 Films does an amazing job digging up this sleazy zombie film and slapping it onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The transfer leaves the film looking better than ever, the audio for both languages is terrific, and the bonus features are exhaustive. Not for the squeamish, Recommended

Order Your Copy of Burial Ground on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 

Also Available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Severin Films