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BURIED ALIVE (aka TILL DEATH DO US PART, 1990)
Directed by Frank Darabont
Written by David A. Davies (story), Mark Patrick Carducci (teleplay)
Starring Tim Matheson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, William Atherton, Hoyt Axton
Well, hey. Everyone starts somewhere. Frank Darabont (best known for his genius adaptations of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, GREEN MILE, THE MIST, and the first season of THE WALKING DEAD) helms this tepid made for TV movie from 1990. If anything, it’s a testament on how far Darabont has come as a director.
The story is thinly based on Edgar Allan Poe’s A PREMATURE BURIAL as Tim Matheson (best known as ANIMAL HOUSE’s fast-talking Eric Stratton) plays an all-around nice guy who fishes with the sheriff, builds a house for his wife, and is oblivious at how much she loathes him. Though Jennifer Jason Leigh has shown some powerful acting chops in many a film, here she projects bad acting as if it was all she knew. Rounding out the cast is Dickhead DIE HARD reporter William Atherton as Leigh’s doctor boyfriend and good ol’ boy Hoyt Axton (best known ‘round these parts as the inventor dad in GREMLINS) as the sheriff who is equal parts inquisitive and dense whenever the plot requires him to be.
Leigh poisons Matheson with a toxin Atherton extracted from the ovaries of a tropical fish (the fuh?) and soon Matheson is six feet under before his time. Occasionally, shades of a future Darabont shine through as there are some effective scenes of tension as Matheson wakes up in his grave and comes home for vengeance against his wife and ex hubby, but there’s nothing here that rings as especially original or interesting, unfortunately. In the past, there’ve been some TV movies that are the shit. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW comes to mind. This one is just shitty.
BURIED ALIVE is recommended to the Darabont completist, and even then, it’s bound to be pretty disappointing.