Buried Alive is a 1990 American horror thriller television film directed by Frank Darabont (Tales from the Crypt TV series, The Mist; The Walking Dead TV series) from a screenplay by Mark Patrick Carducci (Neon Maniacs; Pumpkinhead), based on a story by David A. Davies. The film’s working title was Till Death Do Us Part.
A sequel followed in 1997, titled Buried Alive II, starring Ally Sheedy and Stephen Caffrey. The sequel followed a similar plot, switching the genders of the leading characters.
Tim Matheson (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Eyes of a Stranger; The Hitcher; Single White Female), William Atherton (Ghostbusters; Grim Prairie Tales; The Girl Next Door) and Hoyt Axton (Gremlins; Retribution; King Cobra), Wayne Grace (Scanner Cop; Lord of Illusions), Donald Hotton (Deadly Lessons; Freeway Maniac; The Runestone), Brian Libby (Silent Rage; Chiller; The First Power).
Clint Goodman is a successful contractor who has built his comfortable house and his construction company in his hometown through hard work. He loves his wife Joanna, but she is very resentful to him most of the time, they have been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. Clint’s best friend is Sheriff Sam Eberly and every now and then they spend the night fishing in the lake.
Unknown to Clint, Joanna has been having an affair with the local doctor Cortland van Owen. The lovers’ plot to kill Clint and sell his company and his house, then move to Beverly Hills to buy a clinic. Cortland gives poison to Joanna, which is taken from a rare poisonous tropical fish. She is hesitant at first to go along with the idea but changes her mind; when they are having dinner she spikes Clint’s wine with the poison. Clint has a heart attack and dies.
When the coroner asks if an autopsy should be done, Cort refuses. While Clint is at the morgue he shows signs of life and just before he is to be embalmed, Joanna gives him a quick and cheap funeral instead, skipping the embalming process. Clint is put in a cheap water-damaged coffin, varnished to look like new. After his funeral, Joanna and Cortland celebrate. During a stormy night, Clint, who has surprisingly survived the dosage, wakes up buried alive, and succeeds in escaping his grave…
‘Although the plot of Buried Alive is fairly predictable, the film benefits immensely from some inventive direction from Darabont, while a capable cast of familiar faces including Matheson, Leigh, Atherton and country singer Hoyt Axton also helps to elevate it above your typical TV movie standards.’ Flickering Myth
‘ … it’s aiming to blend elements of noir, zombie horrors, and the revenge thriller, which it does fine, to a degree. The only downside of all this is that it ends up feeling like a bit from Tales from the Crypt, (something Darabont went on to work on a couple of times) which then leaves you wondering why the whole thing isn’t just a romping 25 minutes long … All in all this is a weird one.’ Love Horror
‘ … what really sells the film are its performances, especially the brittle bitch Jennifer Jason Leigh creates for Joanna. She’s completely believable as a wealth-obsessed leech, whose garish lipstick and bombshell blonde hair perfectly exemplify her shallowness. The actress envelopes herself into the character, who is truly detestable. It’s not one of her best performances, but then her CV is packed with greatness. Matheson crafts an equally believable character, and he’s so likable that I often wondered how exactly this polar opposite couple had ended up together.’ Michael Ewins, e-Film