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Dead & Buried

Directed by: Gary Sherman

Produced by: Robert Fentress, Richard R. St. Johns, Ronald Shusett

Written by:

Short Story Author: Alex Stern, Jeff Millar
Screenwriters: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon

Starring: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund

Music by: Joe Renzetti

Cinematography: Steven Poster

Editing by: Alan Balsam

Distributed by: Avco Embassy Pictures

Release date(s): May 29, 1981

Running time: 92 Min.

Country: United States

Language: English


James Farentino stars as Dan Gillis, sheriff of the small New England coastal town of Potter’s Bluff where, in the film’s opening scene, a mob of townspeople attempt to kill a visiting photographer; he is beaten, tied to a post then set on fire. The Photographer is later killed under the sheriff and doctor’s noses at the local hospital.

As the story progresses, more visitors are murdered by the townspeople. Sheriff Gillis, assisted by Dobbs, the local coroner-mortician (Jack Albertson), works hard to discover the motive for the killings. Gillis becomes increasingly disconcerted as a grisly death occurs every day with the killers photographing the victims as they are murdered.

The film’s creepiness is enhanced by the audience knowing the identity of the killers, nearly all of whom are friends of Gillis whose wife Janet (Melody Anderson) has suspicious reasons for her own frequent nocturnal disappearances.

After Gillis accidentally hits someone with his squad car following a recent attack, the bizarre nature of the murders becomes even more evident. On the grill of his car, Gillis finds the twitching, severed arm of the accident victim, who suddenly attacks him before fleeing with the arm. After the attack, Gilis scrapes some flesh from the vehicle and takes it to the local doctor, who tells him that the body the flesh came from had died approximately four weeks before.

As his suspicion of Dobbs grows, Gillis conducts a background check and discovers that he was formerly ‚Dr. Dobbs‘, a chief pathologist in Providence, Rhode Island until his dimissal 10 years previously for conducting unauthorized autopsies in the county morgue – just before he moved to Potter’s Bluff.

The film eventually reveals that Dobbs has developed a secret technique for reanimating the dead, and all of the townspeople are in reality reanimated corpses under his control. Dobbs considers himself an „artist“ who uses his zombies to murder the living in order to create more corpses on which to practice his reanimation technique.

At the conclusion, it turns out that the Sheriff is actually one of the living dead, having been murdered by his undead wife prior to the on-screen events under Dobb’s orders. As the film ends, Gillis notices his own hands decomposing, whereupon Dobbs asks to examine them.


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