Italian zombie flicks tend to be extremely gory and extremely goofy, and this pasta zombie fest from 1980 contains both qualities in abundance. In fact, it may be among the absolute goriest and goofiest of them all, which is no small accomplishment!
For sleaze mavens, director Andrea Bianchi and writer Piero Regnoli are key figures in Italian trash cinema. Bianchi’s credits include the sleazy thriller STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (1975), the sex romp CONFESSIONS OF A FRUSTRATED HOUSEWIFE (a.k.a. MY FATHER’S WIFE; 1976) and the X-rated EXORCIST rip-off MALABIMBA (1979). As for Regnoli, he scripted Riccardo Freda’s classic I, VAMPIRI (1956), as well as THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRES (1962) and Umberto Lenzi’s NIGHTMARE CITY (1980). Bianchi and Regnoli’s collaboration on NIGHTS OF TERROR (which is better known under its US title BURIAL GROUND), was something of a key event in sleaze-movie history, and the results are every bit as lurid and trashy—and fun—as you might expect.
A group of rich airheads arrive at a secluded castle for a weekend of debauchery. Among them is Michael, a perverted “boy” (actually a midget with a bad toupee!) harboring incestuous longings for his randy mother, who in turn has her eye on a fellow guest. What none of them know is that bordering the castle is a graveyard where the dead have been resurrected by a clueless professor who intoned an arcane enchantment the night before…and got massacred by zombies for his troubles!
The dead folks, shedding rotting flesh and dripping maggots, waste no time in terrorizing the castle’s horny inhabitants, beginning with those who unwisely opt to have sex in the graveyard. Lots of creative nastiness ensues, including an unfortunate woman who gets a hand nailed to a balcony and is then decapitated with a scythe, and much assorted flesh gouging and intestine pulling. Among the victims is poor Michael, who in addition to getting killed by a zombie is brutally rejected by his mother when he tries to have sex with her!
The dwindling survivors flee the castle and attempt to take refuge in a nearby church, but it turns out to be infested with zombie monks. This entails another desperate flight, this time into a monastery where the zombified Michael happens to be. His beloved mother is among the survivors, and so is overjoyed to see her son “alive” and walking around. She even allows the lusty tyke to suckle one of her nipples–with horrific results!
Italy is the country that gave us cinematic geniuses like Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini. It also gave us Andrea Bianchi, the director of BURIAL GROUND, who falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. I think it’s a safe bet that you won’t find any maggot eyed zombies or kids biting off their moms’ breasts in Fellini’s movies; BURIAL GROUND also contains many gratuitous sex scenes, several lurid close-ups of ripped-out innards and some of the most hilariously inept English dubbing ever (which of course adds immeasurably to the film’s charm). Another notable element is Peter Bark as the incestuous “boy”, who closely resembles a diminutive Dario Argento, wears an obvious toupee and actually looks older than his mother (played by the alluring Mariangela Giordano, of THE SECT and KILLER BARBIES, among others).
The whole thing is far too cheap to ever seem very troubling, and anyway, anyone tempted to take BURIAL GROUND the least bit seriously should keep in mind that it was conceived as a direct rip-off of Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE (which in turn filched from George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD)—Bianchi even cribs the infamous eye-poke from Fulci’s film with a vastly inferior scene involving a woman’s eyeball and a shard of broken glass.
BURIAL GROUND (a.k.a. NIGHTS OF TERROR; LE NOTTI DEL TERRORE)
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Producer: Gabriele Cristanti
Screenplay: Piero Regnoli
Cinematography: Gianfranco Maioletti
Cast: Karen Well, Peter Bark, Mariangela Giordano, Simone Mattioli, Antonella Antinori, Roberto Caporali, Claudio Zucchet, Anna Valente, Raimondo Barbieri