This cult-classic horror film by B-movie director Albert Band (who years later founded Empire Pictures with sons Charles, and composer Richard) still works as a late-night shocker, this time presented in its theatrical 1.85:1 ratio. (Previous video formats, including the MGM/UA laserdisc set, and MGM Midnight Madness DVD, contain the unmatted full frame version.)
As part of Elite Entertainment's Drive-In series, “I Bury The Living” heads the first of a double-bill, with “The Hand” as the second feature. Though “I Bury” is tightly matted for an anamorphic display, it's an adequate print that's seen steady use over the years. No abrupt breaks or scratches, but the contrast is rather high and ghostly in bright scenes. A moody little film, the best parts are Band's huge extreme close ups of the pivotal black pins which non-emotive star Richard Boone places in reserved plots to trigger the deadly curse, and wild montages designed by iconic and pioneering editor, Slavko Vorkapich, that really pay off in widescreen.
The mono mix is standard, showcasing Gerald Fried's dissonant (but really repetitive) score, and viewers have the option of watching the film in Elite's patented “Distorto” sound, which recreates the tinny audio from window-mounted speakers, cricket chatter, and disruptive teenagers in a subtle 5.1 Dolby mix.
The best part of these Drive-In Series discs is the programming aspect, which allows you to essentially recreate an outdoor night at the movies. There's several menu options that allow separate access to the main features – “I Bury the Living” and “The Hand” with two Gumby shorts are in the “Features & Shorts” section – and twenty-one vintage drive-in promos that span the 1940s to the late 70s appear in the chapter-indexed “Ads & Clips” corner. The latter include snack adverts (Toddy Chocolate Malt, and the “Yum Yum” hotdogs), special senior and shut-in specials, an actual topless model (appearing soon!), and trailers for two cheesy horror flicks (of which “Blood Creature” looks absolutely amazing. This one MUST get a DVD release).
Besides the obvious nostalgia value, the Drive-In discs also preserve a decent chunk of drive-in ephemera, which alone reveal idyllic visions of family leisure time, and a goofy homespun style of advertising that actually sold products. Just remember to access the Ticket Booth menu, so you too can watch the whole program in order (with a neat animated ticket girl). Note that the DVD automatically defaults to Distorto Sound, and you have to flip to straight mono manually if you want the more basic living room environment set-up.
Lastly, drive-in fans might also want to check out the inlay card's mini-bio of a Virginian drive-in, and the site's link, both of which paint affectionate portraits of unique, community-based form of theatrical exhibition.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan