Blu-ray Commentary: “Buried Alive”

Before Frank Darabont became famous for directing The Shawshank Redemption, he made the made-for-cable movie Buried Alive for the USA Network in 1990. The premise is simple: Jennifer Jason Leigh’s frustrated housewife wants to bump off her husband (Tim Matheson) to run off with a greedy doctor (William Atherton). She poisons her hubby, but it turns out that he’s not quite dead and bursts out of his grave to seek revenge. No, this isn’t a supernatural tale. The guy is shocked to be alive and wake up in a coffin, but upon his “rebirth” he hides out in his own house and plots nasty revenge against them both. Hoyt Axton plays his sheriff buddy who doesn’t know he’s still alive or that he’s been the victim of attempted murder.

This is notable for being Darabont’s feature directing debut, sandwiched between the time he was co-writing horror films in the 1980s and then directing his Academy Award-winning film The Shawshank Redemption. This was a rather interesting transition, and after he made this movie he ended up writing episodes of Tales From The Crypt and Young Indiana Jones. Buried Alive was a trial run for his directing career and a pretty good one at that even if the ending is implausible. The film has accrued a cult following for sure.

The following are reviews for my work on Buried Alive. Click on a logo to go to each review site directly.

“If you have listened to any of the other commentaries Mr. Reesman has recorded for various Kino Lorber releases, you will know what to expect from this commentary as well. There is an abundance of interesting information about the production of Buried Alive, its identity, how the film was promoted, the careers of the different people that made it, etc. It is a very good commentary.”

“Entertainment Journalist and Author Bryan Reesman gives a fact-filled commentary track that is quite lively as he delivers nuggets of information about the talent both in front of and behind the camera, as well as stories from the production. Really worth a listen to have this film put into greater context.”

“Extras start off with a commentary by Entertainment Journalist and Author Bryan Reesman. He offers up a very well-researched track that covers Darabont’s career and talks about how he wound up getting the gig directing this picture. There’s loads of information about him in this talk as well as plenty of details on the casting, the release history of the film, those who helped out in front of and behind the camera, the score and lots more. He leaves no stone unturned.”

“The newly recorded commentary by Reesman like his other commentaries is an informative delight. Details include the career of actor/singer songwriter Hoyt Axon, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s career at the time she made the film and beyond, Mathieson’s feeling towards the film and his career, Darabont’s career pre and post Buried Alive, some interesting notes about the mortuary they filmed in, filming in Santa Clarita’s Placerita Canyon (which this reviewer lives close to), the cliches of the horror tropes the film deals in, a great story about Brian Eno (it makes sense in context), some of the history behind being buried alive and some interesting anecdotes around the troupe/not-so-urban legend, the history of USA Network (which originally aired Buried Alive), the neo-noir films of the 1990s, Matheson’s directorial career and its ties to the USA Network (he also directed the sequel to this film), how successful the film was, the budgeting/scheduling and how that effected filming, Darabont’s Shawshank and its status of in filmdom and its video release success, William Atherton’s career and pop culture status because of Ghostbusters, Darabont’s short films, and much more. Reesman is able to bring the same sort of deeply researched and entertaining track that he did in The Secret of My Success where there were plenty of quoted interviews and details about the production.”

“The Kino Blu-ray offers a new commentary by author Bryan Reesman who rapid-fire discusses the psychological thriller and horror aspects of Frank Darabont’s debut feature, cinematographer Jacques Haitkin, Hoyt Axton’s extensive musical career, as well as facts on Jennifer Jason Leigh (her amazing memory of knowing every line in the film), Tim Matheson, about pufferfish containing tetrodotoxin (enough poison in one fish to kill 30 humans) and referencing The Simpsons episode with that featured prominently… and much more. He exports a lot and goes all over the place – very enjoyable.”

“There’s a nice audio commentary with Bryan Reesman who offers up some insight and details about the film.”

“Mr. Reesman’s commentary [is] very informative and entertaining.”

“A talkative and informative commentary by journalist/author Bryan Reesman.”

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