Buried Alive (1989)

R   |    |  Horror, Thriller

Buried Alive (1989) Poster

The new teacher at an old girl's boarding school suspects that something goes wrong when students start missing.


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11 July 2005 | FieCrier
| Edgar Allan Poe's Buried Alive: a stupid horror movie with practically nothing to do with Poe
A woman leaves the Raven Croft Mental Facility, which for some reason is filled with only women who do not seem insane, but more like juvenile delinquents (played by women in their 20s and 30s, to be sure). Outside, she's attacked by a short person in a Ronald Reagan mask and pushed through a trapdoor down a very long chute. Mr. Reagan shows up at the bottom of the chute seconds later, suggesting he has his own chute nearby or an express elevator. It was lucky for him her escape route passed by his trapdoor anyway.

The late Reagan is infamous for (among many other things!) being responsible for the closing of federally funded mental institutions, essentially kicking many patients out onto the streets. I wonder if this movie was trying to comment on that, in its own stupid way. The "Ronald Reagan Home for the Mentally Ill" in Airplane II may have been making a jab at the same thing. Anyway, a Reagan mask isn't really scary-looking. Even though it seems to be painted a solid color, suggesting the William Shatner mask in Halloween, it still looks like a caricature of Reagan, and thus, silly.

The next day a young woman shows up at the facility to be a teacher. On the way she has a Psycho moment when a sunglasses-wearing cop (Vosloo, years before the Mummy!) finds her asleep in her car. At the institution, she has some odd hallucinations relating to people falling down the chute (which she's never seen) or being walled up behind bricks.

And about those bricks - the killer walls people up behind a single row of red bricks which he does not appear to cement together. Even though he puts his prisoners in straitjackets, they could still simply push against the wall and have it fall down.

Donald Pleasance has a character that is ridiculous and serves practically no purpose except to be weird. John Carradine shows up for all of about ten seconds. I understand in his later years people would film him doing something, before even having an idea of what to do with it, just so they could put him in their movie. Perhaps this fits in with that.

Robert Vaughn looks, sounds, and dresses the same in this as in everything else I've seen him in. C'mon, an accent, some facial hair, and different haircut, do something to make your character superficially different! Or is it the director's fault?

The movie is definitely not adapted directly from Poe. It suggests The Black Cat, The Premature Burial, The Fall of the House of Usher, The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether among others, without really having much to do with any of them except superficially.

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