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The Undead (1957)

 -  Fantasy | Horror  -  March 1957 (USA)
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Ratings: 3.8/10 from 1,097 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 12 critic

A beautiful woman is sent back in time via hypnosis to the Middle Ages where she finds she is suspected of being a witch, and subject to being executed.



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Cast overview:
Pamela Duncan ...
Diana Love / Helene
Richard Garland ...
Livia, witch
Val Dufour ...
Quintus Ratcliff
Mel Welles ...
Smolkin, the gravedigger
Dorothy Neumann ...
Meg Maud, witch
The Imp
Bruno VeSota ...
Scroop, the innkeeper (as Bruno Ve Sota)
Richard Devon ...
Maurice Manson ...
Prof. Ulbrecht Olinger
Aaron Saxon ...
Gobbo, the Jailer
Don Garrett ...
The Knight (as Don Garret)
The Leper (as Richard Miller)


Two psychical researchers procure the services of a lady of the night and send her back in time under hypnosis. She finds herself in the body of a past existence - a woman in medieval times waiting to be beheaded as a witch. By avoiding this fate she unwittingly starts to alter history. Written by Jeremy Perkins <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A thousand years of naked terror! See more »


Fantasy | Horror


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

March 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Trance of Diana Love  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$70,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The prop bats seen in the film are leftovers from Roger Corman's earlier film It Conquered the World (1956). See more »


Lydia's dress sports a zipper in the back. See more »


Smolkin, the Gravedigger: [singing] Three Witches have heads / But they'll sever them all / The head of Helen is the third that must fall / All the Kings horses and all the Kings men cannot put the witches together again.
See more »


Featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Undead (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

THE UNDEAD (Roger Corman, 1957) **1/2
17 February 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I had long wanted to purchase the Region 2 DVD (it's still M.I.A. in the U.S.) of this one, but somehow I kept postponing it – I remember there was some discussion whether the Fullscreen presentation here was the correct Aspect Ratio – and it eventually went out-of-print. Luckily, I stumbled upon a single copy at the Oxford Street branch of Virgin Megastores while in London last month and quickly lapped it up. Distressingly, as has been happening with some of the stuff I brought over from the U.K., the picture froze as soon as the film started on my Pioneer model – so I switched it onto the cheaper DivX player I acquired some months back and it proceeded to play all the way through without a glitch!

Anyway, to get back to the film: I have to admit that I was somewhat underwhelmed by it on this initial viewing – even if I readily concede that it's one of Corman's most ambitious and interesting efforts from this era (with a plot clearly inspired by the true case history dealt with in THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY [1956]); the only other three of Corman's early horror titles that I've watched are A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959), THE WASP WOMAN (1959) and THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960). I know that, with the budgets usually allowed Corman at this time, not much could be expected with respect to the film's look – but its partial period setting, perhaps, hampers it more than most; in later years, the black-and-white TOWER OF London (1962) suffers a comparable fate vis-à-vis the more visually lavish Poe adaptations.

The inadequate leads notwithstanding, the cast responds enthusiastically to the inherent campiness of the piece with Allison Hayes (as a wicked yet voluptuous sorceress), Mel Welles (as a Shakespearean gravedigger) and Richard Devon (as an equally theatrical Satan) coming off best – though the usually reliable Billy Barty makes for a rather obnoxious imp. Still, while the climactic Witches' Sabbath (with its clever twist ending and a brief appearance by the ubiquitous Dick Miller) is an undeniable highlight, the blank verse and 'Olde English' pronunciation utilized throughout the re-enactment of the heroine's past life gets tiresome pretty quickly; that said, this ill-advised attempt at respectability (the barren sets and general lack of period sense would have fooled no one even back then!) – for the record, the film suffered the ignominy of being spoofed on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" – does look forward to the somewhat similar yet rather more successful INCUBUS (1965) which was filmed, for no discernible reason, in Esperanto!

Among the DVD supplements are 9 theatrical trailers of titles in the "Arkoff Film Library" – though, curiously, not one for THE UNDEAD itself: I'd be interested to watch DAY THE WORLD ENDED (1955), THE SHE-CREATURE (1956), BLOOD OF Dracula (1957), EARTH VS. THE SPIDER (1958; promoted here under its original title of THE SPIDER), HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958) and WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958) – all of which promise to be cheesy fun…not that I'd rush out and go purchase them or anything at this stage, mind you! With a backlog of some 600 legitimate DVDs and almost as many recorded VHS titles, God knows I have enough stuff to tide me over for a long time to come; however, one film I wouldn't mind getting my hands on is Corman's influential sci-fi classic NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957) – itself remade no less than three times! – but which has, mysteriously, never been available on home video.

A 50-minute audio interview (recorded at London's National Film Theatre) with legendary AIP honcho Samuel Z. Arkoff is also featured on the disc: it's an interesting piece – especially when discussing his early years in the business, the advent of Roger Corman himself and the company's tenure in England; less enthusing, however, are his decidedly feeble comments about the huge dividends made by low-budget productions today (in the face of so many costly box-office failures) – but where their ultimate quality, entertainment value and longevity could hardly be compared to the good old days.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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