Before Frank Darabont became something of a household name after directing The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999) he began his feature length directorial career with this 1990 TV movie. One of a large number of movies to revolve around the ghastly fate of being interred whilst still very much alive, which notably include the Roger Corman adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Premature Burial (1962), George Sluizer's chilling Spoorloos (1998) and Rodrigo Cortes' thriller Buried (2010), Buried Alive is due for release on DVD for the first time on the 17th of October. Tim Matheson stars as regular Joe Clint with Jennifer Jason Leigh as his unhappy and unfaithful wife Joanna, a city girl who has grown increasingly desperate to get away from their quiet small town existence and live a life of pampered luxury with her lover, local doctor and scenery chewing sleaze-bag Cortland (William Atherton). Coerced into poisoning Clint by Cortland, with a large life insurance policy payout as added bait, Joanna's botched deed leaves Clint in a state of paralysis with his vital signs undetectable...and you can guess the rest.
Buried Alive is deadly dull, never once appearing as anything other than the cheap TV movie that it is, and not even the usually entertaining presence of Jason Leigh can disguise the fact. The chills are run of the mill, the acting broad and the entertainment value sparse. The low budget, exposition heavy dialogue, signposted plot-line and B-movie cast (Jason Leigh apart) make for an inauspicious début for the man who would go on to direct the much loved prison set Stephen King adaptations as well as The Mist(2007), another, hugely underrated, King adaptation. With his recent firing from the highly popular TV series The Walking Dead, which he developed from the comic book series of the same name, the headstrong Darabont has seemingly once again managed to alienate himself from the money men. His steadfast refusal to alter the downbeat ending of The Mist led to limited studio funds being made available for the film's marketing and advertising budget, condemning the movie to a limited theatrical run on far fewer screens than it deserved. Buried Alive on the other hand has done well to garner a DVD release as only the die-hard or easily pleased horror fan will be able to take much from this paltry sub-Hitchcockian, Allen Poe influenced misfire.