Red adapts the Warren Ellis graphic novel by significantly expanding the story, adding a lot of humor and some other characters, and giving it a happy ending. Dead and Buried tells the story of a creepy town where strangers are murdered in horrific ways and buried, only to reappear a few days later as happy, productive members of the town. The film starts off with a lot of atmosphere but goes downhill as the plot unfolds. Some thoughts:
- Both films turn on the notion of catastrophic violence going unnoticed. It’s unclear in Dead and Buried what percentage of the town are zombies (it seems like it’s a high percentage), but the regular citizens in the town seem particularly unaware of the maimings, burnings, shootings, and stabbings happening in the street and on the beach. Similarly, Red features aggressive and overt military action by whole gangs of gun-toting thugs, but never gives any hint of the aftermath. (I’d think that a covert agency wouldn’t be able to shoot a minigun at an aircraft control tower without getting in at least a little trouble.)
- Both films follow protagonists going up against the system, battling superior numbers to save themselves. Each film features a normal looking person (bathing beauty at the beach or dowdy traveler at the airport) who turns out to have murderous intentions (though only the latter has a bazooka).
- Both films ponder the question of death and aging — is it better to deny your inner self in order to have a longer life or to die unsoiled?
- Both films reveal villains mad with power and out of control. In Dead and Buried, the warlock mortician schemes to bring an army of the living dead to life in his little town; in Red, a gangster schemes to bring a corrupt politican to office by any means necessary.
- Both films have small surprises if you didn’t look too closely at the credits: Ernest Borgnine and Richard Dreyfus make cameos in Red while Robert Englund and Barry Corbin (Maurice from Northern Exposure) have small parts in Dead and Buried.