It’s amazing to look back at some random movies from the 80s, 90s, and today and see how closely related they are. For example, I just recently discovered that Robert Kurtzman (known as one of the greatest FX guys in the business) wrote the story of From Dusk Till Dawn, and hired Quentin Tarantino to convert it into a screenplay for $1,500 and an agreement to do the special effects in Resevior Dogs.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to a small made for tv movie in 1990 called Buried Alive and how it is partially responsible for The Walking Dead.
Buried Alive is the story of a gold digging housewife and her doctor lover. Together, they plan on killing her husband (who is a successful contractor and has just built his dream house out in the country). They give the husband a dose of venom from an exotic fish, and he has a heart attack and dies (or at least appears to be dead).
Fortunately for the husband, he does not ingest all of the poison and just appears dead. He is also lucky that the wife is horribly stingy with her life insurance proceeds ($1.5 million), and chooses to not have him embalmed and placed in an refurbished wooden coffin. After a phenomenal awakening scene, the husband wakes up and rises from the dead.
He goes to their home and discovers his wife and the doctor getting it on, and is heartbroken. He hides out in the house and soon learns that she is not the good person he thought she was, and begins plotting his revenge. I’m not going to spoil everything, but it involves converting the home into a maze of horrors (and it’s freaking awesome).
Buried Alive is no longer available in the US (but can be found streaming on YOUTUBE). In fact, it doesn’t even have a trailer anymore. This is the closest I found to a trailer, and it’s more of a music video:
The movie is one of my favorites as a young horror fan. That maze was awesome, and I believe I may have been the only kid in America truly excited for its spawned sequel (Buried Alive 2). Both films starred Tim Matheson as the Clint the contractor, but they featured such names as Jennifer Jason Leigh, William Atherton, and Ally Sheedy.
Here is the connection I never put together until now. Frank Darabont was an up and coming writer in the early 80s that was working on a remake of The Blob with fellow writer Chuck Russell. While in the middle of that script, they were hired to write Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. They completed that script in 10 days, Russell directed the film, and they were able to get The Blob made. Darabont then went on to write the script for The Fly II.
Darabont made his directorial debut with Buried Alive in 1990, and then directed various episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Tales from the Crypt. Then, in 1994, Rob Reiner paid Darabont $2.5 million dollars to turn The Shawshank Redemption into a screenplay and direct it. Shawshank went on to be nominated for 6 Oscars. Darbont went on to direct The Green Mile, The Mist, and was instrumental in developing The Walking Dead and bringing it to television.
So, next Sunday when you are watching The Walking Dead, please note that Freddy and some made for television film had a hand in bringing it to television and know that not all bodies that rise from the grave are cannibalistic ghouls. Some are just Buried Alive.