A group of troublemaking, yuppie, high-schoolers are on the way camping when they get lost and stranded in an unnaturally fogged bit of forest. Inside the forest they find a tavern with strange, glowy-eyed locals and a beastly looking glass cauldron filled with money and valuables. They discover that the vessel is there for the purpose of making a bet that you can survive in the catacombs beneath the tavern until dawn. They take the bet.
“We’re stuck somewhere that looks like a place you’d see in a B Horror movie!”
Directed by Lamberto Bava
Starring: Lea Martino, Beatrice Ring
Graveyard Disturbance is a film directed by Lamberto Bava, the same director who brought us “Demons” in 1985 and its sequel “Demons 2” in 1986, and is, at the very least, an interesting motion picture.
It starts off simply, and predictably, enough. Shoplifting teens in a getaway van airbrushed with 80s pop culture icons like “Heavy Metal”, Judas Priest, and Madonna, are headed to the woods for a camping trip. Additional accoutrements in the van include: a rubber lobster hanging from the rear-view mirror, a boom box mounted to the dash, a tennis ball on the gear shift, and a toilet paper dispenser that looks like the rear of an old Chevy; the coolest toilet paper dispenser ever.
They get lost on the way, however, in the most unnatural fog since the cigar smoke in “The Evil Dead”. This leads them to a flooded road they attempt and fail to pass. Now stranded, they make their way on foot through more unnatural fog. Then there’s the creepy dude wandering the forest wearing what will become the preferred costume of the killer in the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” films; and he has a Terminator eye that would make Arnold proud. They follow the disturbance his footsteps create and wind up in a tavern that is reminiscent of The Slaughtered Lamb. One of the characters even mentions “American Werewolf in London” in the scene.
There is a pot of cash and antiquities that is apparently where you place your bet that you can survive in the catacombs beneath the tavern. One foolish young man takes the bet, and the rest of his troupe follow.
What follows is some incredibly unique storytelling and imagery. Basically, the movie plays out like a live-action Scooby Doo episode sans the lovable mega pooch and his munchies-addled compadre. Even the van mentioned above could be seen as the Mystery Machine. The world that lies beneath the tavern is more akin to Guillermo Del Toro films that had not yet been made than it is a graveyard. There is a menagerie of these Pan’s Labyrinthians eating a formal dinner at one point. There is a disembodied eyeball poking out of grimy, bubbling, death water, looking like something from the Dagobah System. There’s even a bit of humor when a guy zombie wakes up a girl zombie by grabbing her booby. The girl zombie then smacks him in the face. There is also a gag you can see coming from a mile away that reminded me of the “I ain’t got nobody” scene in “Young Frankenstein”.
All in all, Graveyard Disturbance is an interesting but horrible film. There are those that will enjoy it and there are those that won’t, but, either way, it is a film that represents a very cool and very specific niche in the horror genre – 80s Italian horror. There is no denying the power of some of the films in this niche, and it is always a pleasure to see one I haven’t seen before. This one was no exception.
Graveyard Disturbance (1987)