Buried Alive

buried ryan reynolds movie 2010 On Monday we see the release of the disturbingly claustrophobic Buried on Blu Ray and DVD.
The film has been causing a stir since we first got a sniff of it at Frightfest. But we wondered, what is it about a film set in a box for the duration that is so terrifying and interesting to us?

The fear of the dark is part of our human instincts, deep rooted from our primitive origins. Back then, night time was no doubt a more hazardous and scary place for our kind. And Even now, bad things are more likely to happen to you at night, be it stepping on the cat during a late night toilet trip or having a car accident.
Tied to this is Taphephobia, or ‘a fear of being buried alive’ (more literally a fear of graves, but in essence the same thing). Historically, this fear and tales compounding it would have started as soon as burying the dead became commonplace. After all, our ancestors were always looking for any excuse to spin a horrible yarn. In his case they even had the evidence to back it up.
Considering the limitations medicine through the ages, it’s likely that lots of people have been put to earth prematurely. Studies were conducted just 100 years ago and the results were astonishing. It was believed that, even then, as much as 2% of burials were ‘premature’ and there were even records of individuals waking up during discection or whilst being embalmed.

It’s no wonder then that writers (including the great Edgar Allen Poe) and film makers have used the idea of waking whilst underground to good/horrible effect.

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Vincent Price stars in this Hammer-style classic, in which his character’s family makes a horrible discovery. Apparently they could have an underlying condition that means that when they die, they might not actually be dead but instead just taking a very still, non-breathing nap. This doesn’t go down well.
Taking matters into his own hands, Price’s character goes quite mad in the persuit for a way to ensure that he won’t end up trapped in a box. Cue lots of coffins with windows in and mausoleums with escape routes etc.

the pit and the pendulum price

Death Line (1972)

Ever wondered what would happen to you if you were buried alive and survived underground for a few years? Check out Brit horror, Death Line.
Donald Pleasence leads and investigation into strange goings on at a tube station and discovers that those responsible are the product of a group of people that we trapped underground some years previous. Now they’re a bunch of deranged cannibals and by golly they’re hungry.

The Vanishing (1988 and 1993)

Whether you prefer the original or the US remake, the notion of The Vanishing remains the same – what if a guy actually liked burying people alive for the hell of it?
And how far would you be willing to go to find a loved one who has been abducted by such a person?
Undoubtedly the most graphic depiction of the experience (prior to Buried), The Vanishing is a unbareably tense, even before the nasty coffin-related business really begins.

the vanishing

A mention should also go to the following for their ideas of premature burial:

Laid to Rest

A masked psycho films his knife swinging escapades as he abducts people, boxes them up and ultimately finished them off.

The Burrowers

Strange creatures that dwell underground move to the surface to snatch humans and bury them alive until they’re ripe for eating.

Kill Bill 2

Yes, it’s not horror and it wasn’t a shade on the first part, but there is a great scene where Uma Thurman has to use her one inch punch to avoid a slow and torturous coffin-bound end.

kill bill 2 buried


Tom Atkinson

Tom is one of the editors at Love Horror. He has been watching horror for a worryingly long time, starting on the Universal Monsters and progressing through the Carpenter classics. He has a soft-spot for eighties horror.More

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