Dead & Buried appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation did about as well as it could with the lackluster source.
Overall sharpness seemed positive. Some softness interfered at times – mainly in low-lit interiors or night shots – most of the image offered reasonable to good clarity and delineation.
I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With heavy grain throughout the film, I didn’t suspect any problematic digital noise reduction. Print flaws also failed to become an issue.
Colors felt a bit bland much of the time, though this seemed to suit the design choices. The image tended toward a lot of dingy blue and green tones.
These came across as subdued but accurate for the photography, as the story leaned toward subtle tones. HDR added heft to the occasional brighter hues, such as the red worn by the sexy woman on the beach in the opening scene.
Blacks came across as pretty dark and tight, while shadows were generally smooth. Some low-light shots could become too thick, but most offered appealing clarity.
HDR gave whites and contrast a bit of punch. A product of its time, this was a more than watchable image, even if you probably won’t use it to show off your fancy-pants TV to friends.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos also felt fairly subdued. Honestly, the decision to give a monaural mix from 1981 the Atmos treatment felt like overkill, but at least the audio didn’t go crazy and try to reinvent this particular wheel.
This meant the movie didn’t ask for the mix to do a whole lot, but the audio filled the room well. Music used the various channels in a compelling, involving manner, and effects added some spark to the proceedings. Various elements felt appropriately placed and they meshed together in a concise manner.
Audio quality showed its age but was more than acceptable. Speech became the weakest link, as the lines could appear a bit flat, but the material remained intelligible despite the dull tones.
Effects also suffered from some period/budget concerns, as those elements occasionally felt a bit rough. However, they also demonstrated pretty good range, with decent low-end.
Music fared best, as the score seemed full and rich. Ultimately, this was a more than adequate track for its era.
Buried boasts a whopping four audio commentaries, the first three of which stemmed from a 2003 DVD. The first track comes from director Gary Sherman, as along with moderator David Gregory, he provides a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, effects, gore and photography, studio issues/interference, influences and connected domains.
Despite occasional instances of dead space, Sherman brings us a largely engaging chat. His notes about studio concerns add value, and we get a lot of other good insights along the way, so expect a mostly solid track.
For the second commentary, we hear from co-writer Ronald Shusett and actor Linda Turley. Along with Gregory, both sit together for their running, screen-specific view of story, characters and screenplay, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, editing and related topics.
Don’t expect much from Turley, as she pops up infrequently. Though he speaks much more often, don’t anticipate much substance from Shusett either.
Shusett tosses out occasional nuggets of value, especially related to other aspects of his career. However, the track tends to feel slow and dull, so it disappoints.
The third commentary features director of photography Steven Poster. Again accompanied by Gregory, Poster brings a running, screen-specific take on various production domains, with an expected emphasis on photography and visuals choices.
Unsurprisingly, this makes Poster’s chat the most technical of the bunch, but it still musters a good level of information. Poster discusses his choices for the cinematography in this useful discussion.
With the fourth commentary, we get a chat exclusive to this release, one that features film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of cast and crew, production issues, genre domains, and their impressions of the film.
Overall, Howarth and Thompson provide a pretty good chat about the movie. They give us a good look at the film’s place in the horror field as well as related topics, so this becomes an engaging track.
Under “Featurettes”, we open with , a 33-minute, 18-second compilation of Super 8 footage shot during the production. After a short intro from Sherman, we see this material accompanied by commentary from Sherman, Poster, 1st AD Brian Frankish and production assistant Dustin Bernard.
We get a good impression of the shoot here, and the footage looks better than I’d expect, even if it clearly shows its roots. As for the commentary, a little too much falls into the “look, there’s (Person A)”, but we still get useful perspective on what we see.
Now and Then provides a three-minute, 57-second view of various movie locations. The featurette compares how these places looked during the Buried shoot vs. now. It becomes a decent overview, though some commentary would make it more interesting.
With Murders, Mystery and Music, we find a 15-minute, 16-second program that offers notes from Sherman and composer Joe Renzetti. Both chat together about their working relationship, the score for Buried and other related material. This becomes a likable and engaging discussion between the two old collaborators.
The Pages of Potters Bluff provides a 12-minute, 49-second with novelization author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. She covers her work on the Buried adaptation and general thoughts on that kind of task. We don’t often hear from the writers who create these novelizations, so this delivers an insightful interview.
Next comes Stan Winston’s Dead & Buried EFX, a 17-minute, 38-second program that provides comments from makeup effects designer Stan Winston. He discusses what interested him in his chosen field as well as aspects of his work on Buried. Expect an informative segment.
An Early Work of Horror goes for 12 minutes, 25 seconds and delivers comments from actor Robert Englund. He gets into aspects of his experiences on Buried in this likable chat.
Finally, Crafting Fear spans 14 minutes, 26 seconds and gives us a chat with co-writer Dan O’Bannon. He tells us of his thoughts about the horror genre as well as his work on Buried. This becomes another useful program.
In addition to three trailers, we end with some stillframe collections. Poster and Still Galleries breaks into seven domains: “Posters” (18 images), “Advertising Materials” (17), “Japanese Souvenir Program” (20), “Lobby Cards” (78), “Stills” (48), “Stan Winston’s FX” (28) and “Video & Book” (27).
We also get Steven Poster’s Location Stills as a separate compilation of 36 photos. All these add value to the package.
A second disc brings a Blu-ray copy of Buried. It includes all the same extras as the 4K.
Note that this Blu-ray boasts the 2021 remaster found on the 4K, so it doesn’t simply duplicate the previous release of Buried. As far as I can tell, Blue Underground doesn’t offer this 2021 Blu-ray on its own. If that changes, I’ll review the Blu-ray as a separate release.
A third disc provides a CD soundtrack for Buried. It lasts 44 minutes and adds a nice bonus for fans.
Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It presents photos, credits and a Michael Gingold essay about Avco Embassy Pictures. The booklet finishes the set on a positive note.
As a twist on the zombie genre, Dead & Buried occasionally brings an intriguing horror tale. Unfortunately, too much of it drags and seems underdeveloped. The 4K UHD offers generally positive picture and audio along with a long roster of bonus materials. You can find less compelling horror movies, but you can also locate many superior flicks.