That’s 1990’s “Buried Alive” for you. Shoddy it may be, it’s not without immense cheesy pleasures.
As it opens, a young woman escapes from the Ravenscroft Institute for troubled girls, only to get nabbed by some dude in an old-man mask (imagine being kidnapped by the Six Flags mascot) and dropped down a trap door into his underground lair, where he bricks her up in the wall. That’s more like Poe’s “The Black Cat” than Poe’s “The Premature Burial,” which the film’s title suggests. If we’re going to get technical, it may as well be called “Getting Scalp Pulled Off While Using an Electric Kitchen Mixer for a Hair Roller.”
After that, the new teacher comes aboard, the blond and beautiful Janet (Karen Witter, who looks like a Playboy Playmate and, as it turns out, was). She’s welcomed to the reform school by the smarmy headmaster (Robert Vaughn) and the creepy doctor (Donald Pleasence in a Buster Brown wig and a bag of chips in hand), but not the girls, who are some tough broads.
They’re the least of Janet’s problems, what with the ants appearing all over the place, the dead frogs that seemingly come to life, and that darn cat. The real problem for viewers is that with this being R-rated horror with an honest-to-God centerfold in the starring role, Janet stays clothed.
Yet for all its inanity and insanity, “Buried Alive” entertains, likely because of all its faults, not to mention the final appearance of the legendary John Carradine. It’s not really Poe, but it’ll do. —Rod Lott