In Honor of Buried, 8 Great 'Buried Alive' Moments From Film & TV

Buried, the Sundance breakout starring Ryan Reynolds and snapped up by Lionsgate for somewhere in the $3-$4 million range, has been quite the Sundance conversation piece. I haven't seen it, but here's what a friend texted me after his screening: "Holy f**k. Most disturbing film I have EVER seen. I am sick to my stomach. I am in shock that I reacted so strongly to a film. My heart was literally pounding and I could barely breath during some scenes." But did he like it? "Loved it." OK then! In honor of this claustrophobe's worst nightmare, Movieline would now like to revisit eight other great "buried alive" moments from the catacombs of pop culture history. WARNING: Graphic violence and some spoilers follow.

1. Nikki and Paulo from Lost

The most despised characters from one of the most beloved TV dramas of all time were dispensed with as abruptly as they were introduced: with a couple paralysis-inducing spider bites and some shovelfuls of dirt courtesy of two of the most popular characters. On the bright side, it did inspire the Nikki and Paulo Sandbox -- sure to be one of the most popular attractions at Disney's upcoming Lostland!

2. The Vanishing

[SPOILER!!!] This 1988 French/Dutch thriller about the disappearance of a young couple from a rural rest stop in France has one of the most chilling endings of all time, rendered all the more so by the idyllic tranquility of its setting.

3. Days of Our Lives: Vivian Alamain

James E. Reilly, the mad scientist showrunner who introduced Satanic-possession into the Days of Our Lives, kicked his stint as head writer off with this suitably insane plot line which saw Carly Manning buried alive by the insane Vivian Alamain.

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  • Ack! You left out the best of all, the bizarre "coffin with a window" sequence from Carl Dreyer's 1932 Vampyr. Tsk.

  • NP says:

    Does anyone remember a movie ('80s some time, I'm thinking) in which a woman plans to escape prison (or maybe a mental hospital or some other kind of locked down facility?) by being buried with a corpse and arranging to have someone dig her out, and then when she's buried, she lights a match and the corpse in the coffin with her is the guy who was supposed to dig her out?

  • DavidA says:

    Found this which answers the question NP had
    Burial alive is the premise for an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour entitled "Final Escape." Here's TV Tome's synopsis (with some corrections), which includes the ending:
    Convicted bank robber John Perry is sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a state prison lumber camp. Determined to get out, John befriends an alcoholic inmate named Doc. Doc is in charge of the prison infirmary as well as burials for the dead. Doc makes an offer to John: if John will finance an operation for Doc's granddaughter, he will get him out of prison. Doc's plan is to hide John inside the coffin of the next inmate who dies. The coffin will then be buried and dug up after the gravediggers and guards leave. John will then make his escape. All goes according to plan until Doc fails to dig John up. John then learns why when the shroud slips from the face of the corpse sharing the coffin with him. It's Doc, who died of a heart attack the night before.
    John was played by Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, while Robert "Jason Foster" Keith portrayed Doc. (For anyone who doesn't know, by the way, Robert Keith was the father of Brian Keith from Family Affair.) This episode was remade in the 1985-1986 revival season, the one that colorized Hitchcock's own segments, and made a sex change with Season Hubley playing the escapee.

  • NP says:

    Hey, thanks!

  • Congratulashayla says:

    This article was all kinds of awesome. The idea of getting buried alive conjures up such primal fears in me.
    Exposé is by far the greatest Lost episode ever.

  • Whoneedslight says:

    I am thrilled that you included the Carly clip. that shit was bonkers.

  • Anonymous says:

    In the opening of Buffy season 6, she's brought back to life - still in her casket. She tears at the lining and generally freaks out, because she doesn't know where she is. Later, she's a catatonic mess, the backs of her hands covered in blood. Not as great as, say, Kill Bill vol. 2. But worth a mention, I think.

  • Parketi says:

    oh boy... hard to watch...

  • Anya says:

    I think that was a Twilight Zone. Thanks for reminding me so I can have nightmares...

  • YES! Great piece, keep up the terrific work. This is the type of information that should gain recognition for it's craft. More writers should learn from you. This is right on the money.

  • sam says:

    I have the same question that NP has, i saw a movie that a Woman is buried alive to escape from some place, and when she is buried, the guy who must take him out, is dead on the couffin with her... NP do you found the movie? or same body knows the name?
    Ps: Sorry my english is not perfect, because i just speak a little.

  • Bert says:

    Anyone remember a film (possibly from the 80's) about a woman being buried alive in a coffin and she had a pipe to breath through, I think they that buried her was after a ransom or similar

  • hastie says:

    i remember that Bert....what was it called. was it called murder, mystery and suspense?