Shock-O-Rama: Burial Ground (

By:Chuck Francisco
Date: Saturday, May 26, 2012

There aren't many films which I can, in all honesty, claim have changed my life. This incredibly odd Italian job released, at the dawn of the 80's, is one of them. Exposed to the world under a bevy of titles including The Nights of Terror, The Zombie Dead, and Zombie 3; Burial Ground came at the middling point of the last zombie crazy, around 1981. I wouldn't be exposed to it's cult culled madness until Friday October 20, 2000. There it served as the anchor film of an endurance challenging All Night Italian Horror Marathon. Thrown by the macabre members of Exhumed Films (a Philadelphia area horror film community staple to this day), this event would be the slow burning fuse that eventually helped me explode on to the horror and cult screening scene myself. Accompanying Burial Ground that night where a mysterious mix of gothic and gore: Jungle Holocaust, The Beyond (still my favorite Lucio Fulci film), The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (featuring the always delicious Barbara Steele) and Revenge of the Dead (aka Zeder; a film whose bad taste still lingers in the recesses of my cerebellum).

At this point some of you might wonder why I'd subject myself to such brutal torment as in many ways, Burial Ground is not a unique cinematic spectacle. It's the tale of ancient crypt ruins decrypted by an oblivious scientist, bringing about the accidental reanimation of the long dead, who themselves crave the flesh of the living. Containing bare breasts, hilariously out of place dubbing, gore galore and even a shot lovingly stolen from Fulci's Zombie (replacing the wood splinter with a glass shard; I see what you did there!), this film seemed destined to ride the pine of team obscurity. Even it's alternate titling of "Zombie 3" is shared with not less than six other films (a topic which I plan on further exploring in the future). 


The sole redeeming factor is a midget thespian named Peter Bark. At the time of Burial Ground's filming, Bark is believed to have been 25 (his exact birthday being lost to the annals of history). Despite that, director Andrea Bianchi cast him as twelve year Michael, an off kilter boy with savage sexual longings for his swinger mom. This sets up frequent opportunities to zoom in on Michael the man child's supposedly menacing mug and to ogle uncomfortable oedipal groping sessions, the intentions of which mom seems oblivious of. Reaching the point of son's hand on mother's fertile ground, she applies a hearty pimp slap of reprisal which send him fleeing into the dark manor. If I'd forgotten to mention it previously (and the various titles didn't tip you off), this all happens in the midst of an assault on the living by the unyielding dead. In this instance, the shambling rotters are very slow but capable of intelligent thought to the tune of setting traps and utilizing tools, mostly of the violent yard work variety.


I won't sink to spoiling the depravity in which Burial Ground allows itself to wallow; it isn't my place to take the delight of discovery from your greedy, craven eyeballs. Instead, I'll humbly suggest you pick it up on DVD and gather your gaggle of gore grazing pals to take in this excellent example of Italian zombie cinema. On that note, it seems about time I retire my ten year old VHS copy, replete with Asian character subtitles strewn across the bottom, in favor of a no holds barred Blu-ray edition with crystal clear imperfections bare before my eyes. Then again, perhaps Burial Ground is the kinda date who looks better in lower resolution, where muddied colors disguise poorly caked makeup jobs. I leave the option to brown bag him to you, dear viewer.



Saturday Shock-O-Rama Streaming Suggestions


Want to watch something schlocky right now? Try on a few of these suggestions, available right now from the listed service (most of which are FREE!).

Netflix -  The Omega Man - Action/Sci-Fi/Post-Apocalyptic (1971)

Crackle -   Fright Night - Horror/Vampires (1985)

YouTube - Messiah of Evil - Horror/Undead (1973) - Gammera the Invincible - Sci-Fi/Monster (1966)

And if you simply can't get enough horror happenings here on Mania, might I humbly suggest checking out Tuesday Terrors? It's got all the shocking news to keep you current (and possibly help you survive until the credits roll).


Chuck Francisco is a columnist for Mania writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights and Colonial Cult Cinema.You can delve further into his love of all things weird and campy on his blog, The Midnight Cheese or hear him occasionally guesting on eminent podcast You've Got Geek.