Dead & Buried comes to 4K from Blue Underground in its Ultimate Edition that should appease every single fan of the movie and create some new ones along the way. This film about a creepy town full of eerie people still has the ability to not only shock but also play mind games with its audience until the big reveal at the end that should cause a reanimated turn of emotions. The film has an excellent new 4K video transfer with Dolby Vision and a killer new Dolby Atmos track, along with some amazing new and vintage bonus features, plus other goodies. MUST-OWN.
Before Gary Sherman made Vice Squad and Poltergeist III, he teamed up with the producers and writers of Ridley Scott's opus Alien and made a fantastic horror film called Dead & Buried. This film was banned from the UK for a number of years and was considered so obscene that it was not allowed to be shown. While Dead & Buried may not stack up to the carnage that is contritely shown in movies and television now, for its time in 1981, it was a bit taboo, considering the swerves and twists this film showcases for its audience. Over the last forty years, Dead & Buried has stood the test of time in its terror, fantastic performances, and dynamite screenplay that constantly tracks the audience on what actually is happening, which makes it still to this day one of the finer pieces of horror cinema.
The first scene of the movie has a photographer taking some pictures on a beach when a beautiful woman comes up to him and coaxes the photographer to take her picture. He obliges but is immediately trapped by a bunch of people and set on fire while someone photographs it. It turns out, these violent people are the townsfolk of Potter's Bluff. Sheriff Dan Gillis is investigating the murder when he hits someone with his car... then they get up and grab their missing appendages and run away as nothing happened. Gillis enlists the help of the town coroner William Dobbs to help him out and solve the case. As time passes and more people turn up dead and possibly reanimated, more dark secrets and haunting elements come to the forefront that have Gillis going crazy. By the end of the film, it's easy to see where M. Knight Shyamalan was inspired and took off on his cinematic journey into horror, suspense, and surprises.
Now judging from its ban from the UK and people discussing its brutality, it would be easy to suggest that the one gimmick this film had going for it was indeed the violence and shock-value it had over audiences back in 1981. That's not the case though. Its appealing and flawless gimmick is in Dead & Buried's ability to pull the curtain over everyone's eyes and show them something happening on screen that is full of subtle deception wherein the end, everything is revealed to be something completely different. This is basically the same concept Shyamalan has used in most of his films, which is the organic ability to be a magician on screen, by showing the audience something shiny and cool, but in the end, it's something more impressive that happens under everyone's noses. And that is the pure essence of how and why Dead & Buried works so well - even to this day.
Of course, Producer Ron Shusset and writer Dan O'Bannon both coming off of the hit film Alien had some mighty fantastic ideas for this story and its promotional material that also confused everyone at the time of what the film was about. It's pure genius and is completely effective. Sherman's attention to detail in weaving the plot and keeping the audience out of the loop is pitch-perfect and Steven Poster's camera work is haunting and atmospheric, creating the perfect blend of horror. Dead & Buried is still smart, terrifying, and a one-of-a-kind movie some forty years later, as is Joe Renzetti's (Child's Play) musical score that adds every horrifying note to the action on screen.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Dead & Buried reanimates itself onto 4K UHD in a Limited Collector's Set from Blue Underground. This set comes with the 4K + Blu-ray + a CD soundtrack for the film. The discs are housed in a hard, clear plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The sleeve is a lenticular case that changes images when you move it, including some gory images. The case art is reversible with different artwork from the film's release. There is an 18-page booklet as well.
Dead & Buried comes with a brand new 2160p 4K UHD transfer from Blue Underground in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is a 16-bit 4K transfer from the interpositive that was approved by the original director of photography of the film, and it simply looks amazing. When Blue Underground picks these certain flagship titles, they go all the way and set a high bar for boutique labels and the major studios.
The color palette is rather neutral from its original production and style, but with this new 4K transfer and Dolby Vision HDR, these colors are more nuanced and well-balanced than in previous versions. This waterfront town has a fantasy-like, hazy theme that looks like the town is almost always covered in some sort of fog or mist. The mountains in the background covered in trees now have various shades of green lining the town with some specks of brown. The water and beaches look steely gray with some blue shades that co-exist with the moody silver sky. Brighter colors such as red shirts or primary-colored vehicles pop brightly and look excellent in this setting. Interiors of bars and houses have earthier tones of browns and yellows with some neon signage that brings out some brighter spots. There are some excellent uses of blues in low-lit scenes to create the creepy atmosphere as well. The white balance has a natural-looking off-white or beige hue to it when people are wrapped in gauze in the hospital. Black levels are now deep and inky with no murky shadows or bleeding.
The detail is sharp and vivid as well, revealing strong closeups, showing individual hairs, wounds, textures in gauze, clothing, and practical makeup effects. Wider shots have depth too, revealing water details in the ocean and landscapes. There is a great layer of grain that sometimes fluctuates, but this is natural to its original elements of production that were not digitized, but rather kept in to preserve the natural-looking state of the picture, and it works extremely well. Lastly, there were no issues with video noise, banding, or aliasing, making this a top-notch video presentation from Blue Underground.
This release comes with a Dolby Atmos track that sounds fantastic. It also has a DTS-HD 5.1 option, and another DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track. The mono option sounds excellent, but the Dolby Atmos mix makes everything sound bigger, brighter, and more immersive. Sound effects sound more robust and full of life, whether it be the carnage or violence in the film or vehicles driving by. Even the ocean waves sound better in the Dolby Atmos track. There is a more fluid transition of sound in ambient noises that transfer from speaker to speaker in a smooth way.
People chattering, yelling, or screaming have a volume boost as well. Renzetti's score is amplified as well in the Dolby Atmos mix that brings to life the suspense and horror of the movie at every turn. The dialogue is clean, clear, and free of any issues. There is no tin-can sound here, but rather a full mix of audio with a brilliant low end of bass from the sub-woofer that kicks into high gear during the music cues and heavier action sequences.
Not counting four audio commentaries, there are about 120 minutes of bonus material here that is a mix of new and archival selections. The four commentary tracks are well worth diving into, one of them being brand new as well. There's a ton of great content here, all of which is worth watching.
Dead & Buried is still one of the best horror movies of the last forty years and continues to impress, scare and provide some intelligent scenarios that haven't been replicated today. Certainly, this has influenced many filmmakers over the years, but this film is still the Godfather of deception in horror. Blue Underground's new 4K release of the film is something special and spectacular with NEW flawless video and audio presentations, and over two hours' worth of NEW and old bonus features, including new artwork, collectible lenticular casing, a booklet, and the soundtrack of the film on CD. MUST-OWN.