Robert Kurtzman is best known to horror fans as the "K" in "KNB"--the legendary special makeup effects crew that has worked on some of the best known genre films of the last twenty years, including Evil Dead II and From Dusk Till Dawn. Kurtzman has also lent his special effects talents to a wide array of films that range from Dances With Wolves to Pulp Fiction, all of which have helped to establish his skills and abilities with creating a variety of illusions. But for all of his magical ability to make wonderful and disgusting things come alive (as well as die)--the one thing Kurtzman can't do is make Buried Alive a decent movie. Kurtzman takes on the role of director for this poorly written bit of B-movie trash that is as boring as it is lame, as full of clichés as it is devoid of entertainment value.
Six college students take a road trip to a remote cabin in the middle of the desert. See, already the clichés have begun. Leading the trip is Zane (Terence Jay), whose family owns the land and the cabin that sits on it. Zane's great-grandfather discovered gold on the land, but no one knows what happened to the fortune, or what happened to his family, who were mysteriously massacred. Tagging along with Zane are his cousin Rene (Leah Rachel), who he may or may not have some sort of incestuous past with, and four more expendable assholes and douche bags. The caretaker of the family property is Lester (Tobin Bell of Saw fame), a creepy old bastard who has been secretly searching for the treasure that is supposed to be buried on the land. Once Zane and Rene arrive at the old family homestead, they awaken the evil spirit of their great-grandfather's first wife, who is rumored to have been buried alive. Of course, there may not really be an evil spirit, or at least that's what the lame script wants us to think as it throws out several red herrings, including Zane not taking the medication required for whatever mental illness he suffers from. See, this way, we are supposed to believe that maybe Zane is just crazy, and somehow he's responsible for whatever weirdness is going on.
After 40 excruciatingly brain-rotting minutes, we get our first kill, which would have probably been more effective in the gross-out department if it hadn't been done already, and better, in Wrong Turn 2. After that we get the film's only creepy moment, as the evil ghost/zombie/witch lady stalks the nubile Laura (the humptastic Erin Lokitz). But is she really there, or did everyone just take some bad drugs? Hmmm. I wonder. Then, at the 50-minute mark, we get a scene of insipid expository dialog that explains the family curse in such a way you want to claw your eyes out of your head. Meanwhile, there is nothing really scary, the gore effects come few and far between (with only two moments worth talking about). And by the time we know for sure if our ever-dwindling cast are the victims of a curse or not, we don't really care. (Honestly, we never did care.)
If it sounds like I really hated Buried Alive, it would be because I did. Maybe I've watched a few too many low-budget horror films these last few weeks, and that has taken its toll on me. But I pride myself on how low my expectations are for horror films, and if it delivers a few creepy moments and one or two good gore effects, I'm usually happy. Throw in some gratuitous nudity, and I'm good to go. Hell, I even kinda/sorta like Hallowed Ground--which didn't even have nudity. But when you really look at Buried Alive, you can't escape the fact that despite two good gore scenes, one creepy moment, and some nekkid female flesh, the movie is total crap.
The problem with Buried Alive is not Kurtzman's direction, which is more than fine. It isn't even the acting, which is passable by horror flick standards. The problem with Buried Alive, quite plain and simply, boils down to an ass-sucking script by Art Monterastelli. There is nothing good about Monteratelli's script--as in "no" and "thing." The plot is a contrived mess of recycled clichés, the dialog is laughably bad, and none of the characters are particularly likeable or memorable. In fact, the script is so bad that it takes a while to realize that it isn't so much that actors not giving good performances as it is them having nothing good to say.
In a genre where much can be forgiven if a film simply delivers a few fundamental elements, Buried Alive can't even pull of that trick. Sure, I know that this maudlin bit of trash is likely to entertain some people. Fine. Whatever. I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it--some people are also entertained by smelling their own farts. So, to those people, I say enjoy watching Buried Alive. But for the rest of us, who don't ask for much in our horror films, we don't need to be bothered with the stink of this movie.