I first watched BURIED ALIVE on USA back in 1990. I was still living at home and just starting college. Although I had not yet felt the sting of betrayal in a relationship, I immediately identified with the character Clint (TIM MATHESON). Clint is a hardworking and faithful husband. I have always been a rule-follower in my life, so I have issues with people who do not follow the rules. For that reason, I disliked the characters Joanna (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH) and Cort (WILLIAM “No Dick” ATHERTON– GHOSTBUSTERS). I cheered for Clint as he meticulously exacted revenge against his plotting wife and her lover. I also fussed at Joanna over the numerous dumb moves she made along the way (i.e., not giving Clint the full amount of fishy poison in his wine, skipping the embalming, and racing to sell his business and home). Overall, nineteen-year-old Mickster found the movie entertaining and the ending satisfying.
I was excited when I found of copy of BURIED ALIVE at Monster Mania in early June 2011. I had not seen it since 1990 and as far as I knew, it had not been released on DVD. Before I had a chance to enjoy it though life dealt me a devastating blow. Having discovered my ex-spouse had also been unfaithful, I now had more in common with Clint than I did when I watched the movie before. In late July, I managed to make myself watch it again and it made my blood boil. In fact, it was almost too much for me to take at that point. I sat down and started to write about the movie…
“I can relate to Clint Goodman’s plight. I feel his pain at being screwed over by the person who is supposed to care the most in his life. Clint is a ‘good man’ who loves his wife and wants nothing more than to build a long-lasting life with her. He has built her a beautiful country home and has a successful contracting company. When his wife says that she is going into the city overnight to shop and hangout with her girlfriends, Clint believes her without question. Clint’s wife, however, is a lying, scheming whore with nefarious plans for her good and trusting husband.”
Clearly forty-year-old Mickster was pissed off and a bit too close to the subject matter. Unkle Lancifer, being the sweetheart he is, suggested I walk away from writing about the film while my feelings were so raw. I agreed and pushed it aside until now.
I am now ready to revisit my old friend, BURIED ALIVE. It serves as a stark reminder of the thin line between love and hate. Although I still side with Clint throughout the movie, I have to point out some things he should have recognized, as I have had to do the same in my own life. It is clear to anyone watching the film that Joanna is not into her husband or the life he is trying desperately to build with her. Clint, like many of us in disintegrating relationships, is too busy trying to make this life work to see the problems before him. He assumes that because he is faithful and kind that his wife is too. This was an enormous mistake on Clint’s part, which almost cost him his life. Even his loyal Rottweiler recognizes what a fraud his wife is. Animals are wise in these matters and can sense a phony quickly. (Note to my sweet kitty Professor Von Whiskersen, I should have noticed your reactions to the ex. I will trust your judgment from now on.)
When Clint wakes up in a coffin, digs his way out, and stumbles home, he is floored by what he discovers. Clint’s deep love quickly turns to bitter hatred and he plans his revenge. Even though Joanna and her scheming lover richly deserve this revenge, I feel that ultimately Clint would be unable to bear his actions since he is at heart loving and kind.
A lot can change in the way you view a film. Twenty-two years ago, Mickster was simply entertained. Nine months ago, Mickster was most definitely outraged. Now, Mickster is older, wiser, and thankfully calmer. I know it is only a movie, but I wish Clint had given himself the time to think things through more clearly. People like Joanna and Cort will ultimately destroy themselves with their selfishness. Clint could have watched this happen from the sidelines without soiling his own hands in the process.