“Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust…”
Smothered sobbing can be heard above you as your eyes begin to flicker open. With a sudden sense of doom, you quickly realise you’ve been buried alive! It can’t be! Your heart pounds away. Your skin sheds sweat. Your mind begins to race. And your screams go unheard. You’ve been condemned by some cruel twist of fate to spend the last remaining hours of your life buried six foot ‘neath the earth; slowly suffocating as a thick darkness entombs you for all eternity.
The fear of premature burial (or taphophobia if you wish) has been the stuff of nightmares for centuries. This is with just cause however, as over the years a staggering amount of people have been the victims of this horrid untimely death. Whether it be accidental, ritual, execution or even voluntary the thought of it still send shivers down spines to this day. The phobia was so prominent in the Victorian times that special ‘safety coffins’ could be bought (at a hefty price) which had a bell attached to just in cas e such an occurrence did happen. It’s thought that this is where phrases such as ‘Saved by the bell’, ‘dead ringers’ and ‘Graveyard shift’ originate from (see, you learnt something new today!). From improper diag nosis to foul play or the bizarre phenomenon known as Lazuras Syndrome (the ‘spontaneous’ return to life), Premature Burial is very much still a possibility. It’s no wonder then that this has been a frequent theme in horror cinema.
The Squad is a new horror film that delves into this chilling fear. It tells of a group of soldiers who come across a deserted bunker where something is not quite right. And something or someone is buried in between one of the walls! It’s terrifying to watch, and you’ll bound to be clutching your pillow in one hand and ordering a safety coffin with the other. With the DVD of The Squad out this week, what better time to have a quick countdown of cinema’s other greatest premature burial movies….
10) Kill Bill: Vol. 2 – Quentin Tarantino, 2004.
Whilst not quite as bad-ass as the first, Kill Bill: Vol 2 contains a truly shocking moment in Tarantino history see The Bride wake up six foot under ground. Paying homage to #4 of this countdown, the scene is claustrophobically shot and remains one of the most memorable moments of the film.
9) After.Life - Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, 2009
In at number 9 is the unforgettable thriller, staring Liam Neeson, Justin Long and Christina Ricci.. Constantly questioning whether Ricci’s character really is dead or a victim of a psychopath – whether this is a ‘Buried Alive’ movie all depends on what the viewer thinks. This one comes highly, highly recommended!
8 ) Casino – Martin Scorsese, 1995.
What’s worse than waking up in a coffin? How about being beaten with baseball bats, dumped into a ditch and then covered in dirt as you gasp for help? Yep, that outta do it! Nicky and his brother may not be the most sympathetic of characters but as you watch the soil pile on you can’t help but feel sorry for this mass murderer.
7) The Serpent And The Rainbow - Wes Craven, 1988.
Wes Craven’s take on the classic zombie, provides the genre with an interesting and original film. The Serpent And The Rainbow sees Bill Pullman venture off into the unknown, on a mission to find out what really is the cause of the supposed zombification. The quest bites him on the arse though when he finds himself drugged and buried alive!
6) The Vault Of Horror – Roy Ward Baker, 1973.
From Amicus, the studio that left its mark on British horror cinema comes this fun little anthology film. One of the grim short stories in this movie is Bargain in Death, an adaptation of a tale from EC Comic’s legendary Tales From The Crypt (#28). It just goes to show, playing with death is never a good idea!
5) The Screaming Woman – Jack Smight, 1972.
Next up is this somewhat forgotten made-for-TV movie, The Screaming Woman. Based upon a short story by Ray Bradbury, the film tells of a rich woman who hears a woman screaming (hence the title!) from under the ground. Being a former mental patient, nobody believes her, thinking she’s crazy. It still remains a very unnerving film to this day.
4) The City Of The Living Dead – Lucio Fulci, 1983.
The Italian Godfather of Gore, Mr. Fulci created one of the greatest zombie ‘trilogies’ in the 1980s comprising of The Beyond, City Of The Living Dead and The House By The Cemetery. A strong influence on Kill Bill: Vol. 2, City‘s premature burial is one hell of a shocking scene that is bound to get your palms sweating. An iconic scene in Italian exploitation history.
3) Premature Burial – Roger Corman, 1962.
Mix Roger Corman and Edgar Allan Poe and you’ve got yourself a blood-curdling cocktail of incredible horror. 1962′s Premature Burial is no exception! An artist becomes obsessed with the fear of being buried alive and, like all great horrors, he ends up facing his ultimate phobia.
2) Buried - Rodrigo Cortés, 2010.
Crashing right in at Number 2 is the recent film, Buried. Starring Ryan Reynolds in the lead role, the film spends its entire running time inside the buried coffin. It’s claustrophobic and the tension just keeps on building and building. With plenty of twists and turns, the film never has a dull moment and keeps you glued throughout!
1) The Vanishing – George Sluizer, 1988.
And now onto the King of all Buried Alive movies; the undeniable classic, The Vanishing. Remade in the 90s, the French original speeds into first place. If you haven’t already, see this film now! You’ll be scared for life, but you wont regret it.
If you’re a fan of any of these films, I strongly suggest checking out The Squad. It’s out on DVD now and has been called a “terrifying nightmare” (Billy Chainsaw) and “an ambitious and intelligent psychological horror” (TheDigitalFix). Take a look at the below buried alive clip from The Squad for a sneak peak at this intense new film…