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A man (Richard Boone) has to take over as chairman of the Immortal Hills
Shortly after the man discovers he has the power to kill sticking black
pins in an old cemetery grounds map. Later on, after the man has convinced
himself, as well as those around him that he's not crazy, he decides to undo
what he's done and pull the white pins out and replace them with white
This has always been one of my favorite spook flicks. Creepy and with a great twist ending. If you like older black and white spook movies, You will not be disappointed. I have seen this flick no less than 10 times and will no doubt watch it again... Unless someone sticks a black pin in my plot.
'I Bury The Living' is a good example of a 50s low budget genre movie that despite a few creaks still holds up all these years later. Richard Boone ('Hombre'), best known as a star of Westerns, is solid as a businessman who is obligated to serve on the committee of a local cemetery, and inadvertently discovers that by using the map of the graves available he has the power of life and death. Boone is supported by Theodore Bikel ('The Defiant Ones', Zappa's '200 Motels') is an eccentric turn as an ageing Scots grounds keeper, and several half remembered TV character actors. The movie's director Albert Band ('Zoltan, Hound Of Dracula') is the father of 80s trash king Charles Band ('Trancers', 'Re-Animator', 'TerrorVision'). I surprised myself with just how much I enjoyed this modest thriller. Especially recommended to fans of early Roger Corman or (the original) 'The Twilight Zone' or 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' TV series.
So many people call this movie a modern classic and one of the scariest
genre movies ever made. Why? I have seen it more than once and done some
research on it and I question all those assertions. Okay, follow me on
this, Richard Boone takes the job as caretaker of a cemetery because it is a
family tradition. By accident he discovers that if he places a black pin
into the map showing the empty plots, the owner of that plot dies. Several
friends and business associates actually do turn up dead when Richard sticks
black pins into the spots marking graves reserved for them. It then dawns
on him that if he can kills people by sticking black pins into the map maybe
he can bring them back by substituting white pins.
Now this is where we get to the really scary scenes. Boone goes running
through the cemetery and sees that all the recent graves have been opened
and the bodies are gone. His plan worked! But is it too
WARNING WARNING! I am not about to reveal the real ending of the movie, just the way it was originally written in the script. I am not, repeat NOT, telling you how the real movie ends.
As written Boone was to have locked himself in the caretakers shed which was suddenly surrounded by the walking corpses of all the people he had killed by sticking black pins into their grave markers. They do not attack but stand patiently outside calling for him to join them. Richard's grief is so great at having caused their deaths that he dies of a heart attack. Yeah but that ISN'T the way it ended. A "logical" explanation is tacked on that totally ruins the supernatural theme that we have spent the whole movie getting used to. I for one felt let down by this and THAT is why I say this movie is no classic. Yes it has some well staged moments but the copout ending spoils everything. If they had just stuck to the original ending it could have pre-dated NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD by 10 years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Even though very cheap and amateurish-looking, this cool 50's gem receives a gazillion extra points for enthusiasm! The premise of "I bury the Living" is simplistic, but at the same time so ingenious that it makes you wonder why on earth this film is still so unknown. The similar Roger Corman quickies from that era practically all gained an immortal cult-status and yet Albert Band's treat is shamefully overlooked. Richard Boone (strangely resembling Vincent Price) is great in the lead role and even the supportive cast is a lot better than usually in b-grade movies. Slightly against his will, Robert Kraft is appointed the new caretaker of a fancy cemetery where prominent citizens have the opportunity to reserve their final resting places. He discovers that, by changing the colored pins on the cemetery's ground map, he can shorten the life span of people. Pretty soon, the lives of five people unexpectedly come to an end. Could this all be morbid coincidence or does Robert really dispose of the touch of death? Due to the very limited budget, there are few filming locations and no special effects whatsoever, but this is largely made up by the creepy atmosphere and well-written dialogues. The blackly humorous undertones are sublime and the monotonous camera-work adds a great deal to the tension. The finale is somewhat disappointing and overly messy, but you already love the film too much by then. Definitely recommended in case you're a collector of old sci-fi horror treasures.
These sorts of films were mass produced in the late fifties and early
sixties, and while many of them are in good standing today; I Bury the
Living has strangely managed to fly straight under the radar. It's a
shame, too, as this film is at least as good as many of it's quickie
contemporaries. The film utilises a graveyard as it's central location,
and this represents one of it's major assets; as graveyards often make
for intriguing horror locations, and when combined with the atmospheric
cinematography and the brilliantly compelling story; I Bury the Living
becomes more than it's B-movie status suggests it should be. Of course,
I'm not claiming this film to be a great masterpiece; but for what it
is, it's very good. The plot follows a man who becomes the chairman of
a cemetery. This cemetery has a map of it's plots on the wall, with
filled ones represented by a black pin, and ones owned by people who
are still alive being represented by a white one. After accidentally
inserting a black pin into the plot owned by a newly married, and very
much alive, couple; the man is astonished when they turn up dead...was
it merely coincidence, or can he control who lives and who dies?
The film was obviously shot on a low budget, and as such; most of the murder scenes take place off-screen, and the film lacks a certain bite. However, it really doesn't matter because what we do see more than adequately carries the film, and director Albert Band always ensures that the plot moves well and the film stays on track. Richard Boone takes the lead role, and his morbid presence does the movie no end of favours. It is important that you get the right leading man in films like this, and Richard Boone is definitely that man. The rest of the performances range from good to not that good, but nobody particularly stands out as being terrible. The plot lines really manages to get the audience thinking, which is always a positive element in a film; and while this has nothing on similar films about similar topics, such as Dellamorte Dellamore, it holds it's own as a thought-provoking drama. My only real criticism of the film is that it takes itself a bit too seriously. This tone is better than a jokey one; but it could have lightened up just a little. Overall, I Bury the Living is well worth seeing and comes with high recommendations from me.
In my opinion, good film operates on the level of dream, and is not
constrained by mundane logic and consistency. By this standard, a good
horror/thriller should function as a nightmare, in which each inconceivable
fear finds inevitable expression, and the protagonist finds him or herself
helplessly drawn to the next shock, without any hope for escape until the
climax and resolution (awakening). By taking this kind of narrative
technique, adding a bizarre and haunting score, repeating certain eerily
iconic images and superimposing a decidedly downbeat and pragmatic dialogue,
Albert Band created a uniquely dreamlike horror picture that broke through
the cliched 50's take on the genre.
Working with a cast of almost unknown character-actors, and the makeup of Jack Pearce, Band's vision finds expression through action focused almost entirely in one room, a room dominated by a map of a graveyard. The map itself is defined by a kind of Magical Sigil, a map of some unexplored part of the human brain, a symbol more deeply meaningful than any modern writing, and far more inscrutable in meaning. It isn't long before Kraft, the oddly un-heroic (and unattractive) protagonist learns that this map contains the power to kill, and he is drawn back, time and again, to use its power in spite of himself. As if to emphasize the powerlessness implicit in the nightmare, it is usually at the bidding of others, not his own volition, that he uses the dread power.
Band cues us many times to the nature of the dream. Kraft complains of deja-vu, as if the dream is a repetitive nightmare. The room he works in is constantly cold at night: for some reason the heater does not function after dark. A homicide cop advocates the existence of paranormal powers that can cause death. A reporter calls Kraft from inside his own (Kraft's) home without a word of explanation. Each time Kraft suggests a thing, that thing invariably happens just as is often the case in the best and worst of dreams.
The end of the film simply makes no sense, breaks all the rules established by the narrative, falls apart into a tangled mess. This seems acceptable, however, because our dreamer is waking up, struggling to find resolution so that he may repress the dream to go on with the business of the day. The feeling lingers, however, that as night falls and the heater once again fails, Kraft will find himself, again, in that half-remembered room with the looming image of his own mind bringing fear and powerlessness.
Any fan of the classic Twilight Zone will adore this forgotten and
underrated horror gem. Richard Boone is the reluctant caretaker of a
town's cemetery when he accidentally discovers that folks die when he
marks them as deceased on the cemetery's map. Everyone tells him that
it's merely coincidence and he continues to prove them wrong, being
driven mad from the guilt.
A wonderful musical score along with some amazing camera work do most of the job of creating the eerie and haunting mood of a man losing his mind as he literally marks those around him for death. The script is above par and the acting is all surprisingly good for any movie, much less a 50's horror flick. It is because of the sadly disappointing ending (which in effect turns the whole movie into a mess) that this film is not regarded more highly and instead is relegated to the back shelves of video stores as a lost almost-masterpiece and not simply a masterpiece. But the ending by no means ruins the film.
Fans of 50's and 60's horror will enjoy this more than they expect, although be wary of the implications of the cover art - this movie is 100% zombie-free (which is too bad, because there was a wonderful opportunity to end the movie with zombies instead of the ending that's there). And as an odd final note, the screenwriter went on to write The Deer Hunter. I can't say that tells you much about this film, except to say that you can expect someone to hold a gun to their own head at some point.
Check it out! It's cheaper to buy a used copy off Amazon than it is to rent.
Occasionally a film achieves remarkable success in spite of its
limitations. Such a movie is "I Bury the Living" which greatly exceeds
B-Grade movie standards of its time. This crafty chiller is well
acted and tightly directed by Albert Band.
Richard Boone portrays Robert Kraft, prominent chairman of a large department store chain, who because of civic obligation reluctantly accepts the trusteeship of Immortal Hills Cemetery for a one year term. His reluctance soon gives way to fearful belief that his insertion of black pins into the imposing cemetery map in the caretaker's office can supernaturally cause the deaths of the targeted plot owners. Played off against Boone's role are characters such as the hapless victims, the usual skeptics and the crusty caretaker Andy McKee, aptly portrayed by Theodore Bikel. Equally participant are inanimate objects: the menacing cemetery map with protruding black and white pins, and the ever ringing telephone. The weather is bleak, the caretaker's office is visibly cold and the photography is stunning black and white, high contrast and mesmerizing. The eerie musical score that highlights the scenes inside the caretaker's office and the cemetery both day and night intensifies the suspense all the way to the startling conclusion.
Of interest is Boone's rather unusual role as the tormented Kraft in his only horror picture. Even before "Have Gun, Will Travel" Boone was far better known as a western frontiersman. Prominent actors such as Boone rarely appeared in pictures of this genre, and his rugged screen presence lifts this picture way above the ordinary.
A mystery intriguing as the story itself is the seeming disrespect accorded this film for 40 years. Released in B-movie theaters in mid-1958 (in a twin bill with the ridiculous, long-forgotten "Wink of an Eye"), it received limited exposure and was then gone. Now that "I Bury the Living" is on video, get a copy and judge it for yourself. This video will hold your interest, a sure keeper.
I Bury the Living is an enjoyable and creeper chiller from 1958. I've
seen this a couple of times.
A chairman is newly appointed the head of a cemetery and there is a map with pins on it in the shed. Black pins are for empty plots and white pins for taken ones. Something strange then starts happening: when the chairman puts pins in the empty plots, the owner of that plot dies. Several deaths occur and the police come to investigate. Has the chairman got supernatural powers?
I Bury the Living is very creepy, helped by the music score. That map gives you the creeps too.
The cast is led by western actor Richard Boone and is joined by Theodre Bikel, Peggie Maurer and sci-fi/horror B-movie regular Russ Bender (It Conquered the World, War of the Colossol Beast).
I bury the Living is worth tracking down. Very good.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
What happens when Richard Boone, recently put in charge of a cemetery, mistakenly puts a black pin in the hole of a map of the grounds instead of a white pin(black meaning the customer is dead and white alive)? Why the person dies and convinces Boone that he has supernatural powers. What does Boone do then? He keeps testing his theory and people begin to die left and right. Is Boone still yet convinced? I'm really not sure. I Bury the Living is a unique film in many ways as it rests its foundation in the supernatural world. Nothing like it had been done..and little since in the same vein. Richard Boone is pretty good in his role, but none of the other actors seem to come close to over-achieving. The sets are cheap as is the film's budget. I liked the film overall, but must agree to a small degree with one other viewer(although not to the extreme he did)) that the film is overrated. Yes, the film has a good creepy atmosphere, but almost all of that is washed away by the film's ridiculous ending. And Theodore Bikel...a good character actor...is incredibly bad playing a Scotsman. I found myself groaning every time he opened his big mouth. I think for the uniqueness of the film that this will be an enjoyable film for most, however.
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