When you make a film that’s based off an Edgar Allan Poe story, you don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff. You don’t have to buy the rights because they’re in the public domain. You don’t have to deal with the author, estate, heirs or publisher that might force you to stick with the actual story. You don’t even have to come close to the original story to claim Edgar was somehow responsible for what ends up on the screen. Nobody is going to Tweet how this movie destroyed their creative vision. Edgar Allan Poe’s Buried Alive didn’t have a single care that Edgar was going to hire a lawyer and demand his name get taken off the credits. They could just focus on getting the best cast they could lure to Botswana.
The movie opens with a student making a late-night escape from the Ravenscroft Institute for Juvenile delinquent female teenagers. She’s almost made it to freedom when she’s captured by a guy in a Ronald Reagan mask. After Ronnie roughs her up, he drops her into an underground cavern where she’s trapped behind a brick wall. The bricking up a live person is the big moment in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” short story. So now we see how Edgar’s name got drawn into the production. Janet (Mortuary Academy’s Karen Witter) is the new teacher at Ravenscroft. She meets up with headmaster Gary Julian (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.‘s Robert Vaughn) and his right-hand man Dr. Schaeffer (Halloween‘s Donald Pleasence). Janet senses something isn’t quite right at the school. There have been quite a few runaways where nobody has found the girl. She senses that someone is stalking her. But this is a juvenile delinquent school so there’s always trouble lurking in the classrooms. Among the students are Ginger Lynn Allen (The Devil’s Rejects) and Nia Long (Boyz n the Hood & Friday). They aren’t looking to become good girls. But can Janet prevent them from being Ronald Reagan’s next victims?
This film has so little to do with Edgar Allen Poe. I haven’t read everything he wrote, but I have no memory of group shower scene at a girls’ school. But he might have wished he could have written one. Vinegar Syndrome had just director Gérard Kikoïne’s Edge of Sanity starring Anthony Perkins. Both that and Buried Alive came out in 1989. Now you can get a double feature of Kikoïne. Buried Alive is a joyful trashy horror that you’d expect to see on USA’s Up All Night. You get an AVN legend in Ginger Lynn Allen working with Witter who was Miss March 1982. Donald Pleasence wears a wig which allows him to be a bit more comical in his role instead of Dr. Loomis serious. As a side note, Ravenscroft is also the name of the posh kid school in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s where Dexter (Michael C. Hall) went to high school. Ravenscroft seems to be a school for trouble.
Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. This is a serious upgrade over the previous VHS and DVD-R release. You’ll see what’s going on in the underground part of Ravenscroft. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. You’ll hear all the screaming and showering clearly. The movie is subtitled.
Ginger’s Antics (12:35) sits down with Ginger Lynn Allen. She remembers her time in Botswana. She was 26 while playing an 18-year-old. She enjoyed working in a movie where she didn’t die until page 78. She talks about the sadness of John Carradine on the set. He had no clue about anything. He died while flying home. She said Robert Vaughn wasn’t very social during the shoot. She did click with Donald Pleasence. She explains “The Monkey’s Wedding.”
Well, I Wanna Be An Actor (18:38) catches up with William Butler. He played Tim in the film. He got into the movies by sweeping the floors. He got into Buried Alive by working on American Ninja 4. He said the production went well. He was disappointed at the lack of animals working as help in South Africa. He was delighted to work with Ginger Lynn Allen. Donald Pleasence was so kind to him. He talks about the first time he saw it…at a videostore.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Edgar Allan Poe’s Buried Alive. Directed by Gérard Kikoïne. Screenplay by Jake Chesi and Stuart Lee. Starring Robert Vaughn, Donald Pleasence, Karen Witter, John Carradine, Ginger Lynn Allen & Nia Long. Rating: Rated R. Running Time: 91 minutes. Release date: September 27, 2022.