The Grave: A Southern Gothic Guilty Pleasure?

So let’s add a twenty-fifth title to those in the article cited below.  The 1996 movie THE GRAVE may not be that well known or popular a film (57 percent “like” on ROTTEN TOMATOES), but it’s one I like.  And that’s not even with vampires in it.  So call it a guilty pleasure then?  Be that as it may, it happens I reviewed it a bit more than two years ago right here, on December 13 2013.  And so, herewith:

. . . last night (after midnight so it was  the 13th too) I watched a film that only about five minutes in I realized I’d seen on TV before.  Many years before — but that I still remembered enough to be glad I’d now found at a library sale and could watch again.  THE GRAVE is a surprisingly well acted Southern Gothic, scary as graveneeded and peppered with dark humor.  And in that first five minutes, just the music accompanying the credits also reminded me of the Stephen King/John Mellencamp musical GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY (see October 11), reinforced in the opening scene in a prison cell, dark, with two people seen in silhouette, one speaking in a hoarse, raspy voice as a narrator-guide, complete with homey aphorisms here and again as the film played out, reminiscent of (and even sounding like) GHOST BROTHERS’ “Zydeco Cowboy.”

The premise, as others have said, may not be new — the somewhat chance joining of disparate people in a treasure hunt, in this case for a fortune left by the region’s richest man, that no one could find a trace of when he died.  So, getting a clue from one of their fellows, two prisoners escape from the state farm with one of the guards’ help and start the search, bringing in an ex-girlfriend, and a parolee now employed as a mortician, and friends of his, one a good ol’ boy as dumb as a post, and. . . .  Well, the common bond between them is greed, to which add no sense of honor among thieves, and you just know it’s not going to end well.  There’s even one small scene that reminded me of the first SAW movie, which, however,  THE GRAVE preceded by some eight years.

And yes, the treasure is found in a grave, or rather beneath one — and not the grave of the rich man himself — in a cemetery out in the swamp, remote and eerie, and excellently suited for double crosses.

THE GRAVE is available on VHS (though not on DVD that I could find) and, apparently sort of a minor cult classic, may cost a few dollars.  It’s worth the price.

Just now I did a check and it still seems to be on VHS only — and with asking prices in the $30 to $40 and up range.  It is available for download on Amazon though, which can be checked out here.  The film stars Craig Sheffer, Gabrielle Anwar, and Josh Charles and is directed by  Jonas Pate.

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