I Bury the Living (1958) Poster

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Reeks Of Atmosphere
moycon11 August 2004
A man (Richard Boone) has to take over as chairman of the Immortal Hills cemetery. 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 pins.


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.
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A Tale from the Crypt, if ever there was one.
drjackchang4 January 2008
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.
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Effective 50s b-grade suspense thriller.
Infofreak1 June 2002
'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.
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An excellent little B-movie
The_Void4 November 2005
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.
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Fun things to do at a graveyard: determine people's deaths!
Coventry7 October 2005
Warning: 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.
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Strange happenings in the graveyard
chris_gaskin1235 June 2006
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.
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Far above the ordinary for its time and genre
Tom G.8 April 1999
Occasionally a film achieves remarkable success in spite of its limitations. Such a movie is "I Bury the Living" which greatly exceeds the B-Grade movie standards of its time. This crafty chiller is well scripted, 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.
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A Haunting Sigil
Vornoff-327 June 2003
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.
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I Bury the Living
Scarecrow-8810 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A chairman over a cemetery, Robert Kraft(Richard Boone)is overcome with fear and paranoia when odd occurrences that seem to supernaturally happen from changing a white pin to a black pin on a board map of the grounds displaying all the lots occupied and unoccupied by their owners. The white pin represents those still alive;the black pin represents those that are dead. Those around Robert believe the mysterious deaths are merely coincidences..nothing more or less. Yet, when challenged to continue enacting his routine, this time forced by his superiors to switch pins for their names, more deaths occur. Is he actually given the ability to control life or death? Will the knowledge of being responsible, despite his innocence, of perhaps causing the deaths of several people break him emotionally? The ending has Robert trying to right his wrongs by "reversing the curse".

Neat little programmer plays like a low-budget psychological thriller thanks to it's unique, original premise. The ending, while quite interesting, is a bit messy and flawed, for most of the way it works surprisingly well thanks to Richard Boone who is quite effective as Kraft, burdened by his "gift" and slowly succumbing to a mental breakdown. Theodore Bikel portrays Andy McKee, caretaker of the cemetery who is told that, after 40 years of service, he'll be retired despite his unwillingness to do so.
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Pin the Tail on the Corpse
BaronBl00d7 August 2000
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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They call this a classic, may I ask why?
Nozze-Foto4 June 2002
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 late?

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.
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very very original and interesting
MartinHafer21 May 2006
This is a very small-time picture. It's star, Richard Boone, though a star on TV wasn't exactly a big movie star and he rarely starred in the movies in which he appeared. However, in this case he is the lead. He is the boss at a cemetery and after a while, he notices when he sticks black pins in the board, the person who owns the plot dies. Similarly, white pins seem to somehow protect the owner from death. He can't understand it, but somehow this IS the case! Well, once he discovers this, all heck breaks loose and the story becomes a very creepy and effective thriller--too good to be simply confined to B-movie oblivion! Give it a watch and see a film that is not just a cheap copy or inspired by other films, but a totally unique film that doesn't insult the audience's intelligence.
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Good somewhat cheesy horror with an unlikely protagonist...
AlsExGal12 May 2012
... that protagonist being Richard Boone of "Have Gun Will Travel" fame as the member of a prominent small-town family. Years ago, before WalMart and Best Buy, each town would have a department store, usually owned by local people. Such a department store is the source of the Kraft family wealth, and since the source of their wealth is local, it matters to the Krafts how they are perceived in the community. Thus a town committee of seven local wealthy people, including members of the Kraft family, take turns doing public service. One of these public services is managing the local cemetery. Thus it becomes Bob Kraft's (Richard Boone's) turn to do this task. The job isn't difficult and only requires a few hours a month. It is explained to Bob by the grounds keeper that a map of the cemetery on the wall basically does your work for you. A white pin is inserted on grave sites yet to be occupied. Black pins are inserted on grave sites that are already occupied.

So Bob reluctantly takes up this task when along comes his first two customers - a member of the committee and his new wife. It was a stipulation in the young man's father's will that he buy graves for himself and his wife as soon as he married before he could collect his full inheritance. In his haste or sloth, whatever it may have been, Bob Kraft puts black pins in where white pins should have been, and in twenty four hours the young couple is dead from a horrific traffic accident. Bob is a bit unnerved by this, feeling that he somehow mystically "marked the couple for death", but as the pin misplacements continue and the bodies pile up so does Bob Kraft's panic. He even calls the local police and asks them to investigate these deaths as homicides. The police don't exactly call him a crackpot because of his prominence, but they can't ignore the up-tick in the death rate either.

So the question becomes, since these are obviously natural deaths and it couldn't be some Mr. Hyde version of Bob running around and killing people and not remembering it, is he killing these people, some of them total strangers, with the power of his mind in some unconscious matter? Is this a case of "monsters from the ID"? With only a few cheesy special effects and very little action this movie manages to convey man's fear of that which he cannot control - his own subconscious and death itself.

The dialogue is rather spartan but well presented with one exception. Bob is engaged, and every conversation he has with his fiancée might as well be in another language as none of their dialogue makes any sense - it sounds like something Ed Wood would have written. The minute either talks to someone else the conversation becomes comprehensible again. The reason for this I have no idea. If you like the old 50's low budget horror films, I think you'll like this one.
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96% Good
tostinati11 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers present. See the film first. This film rates a Ten (Outstanding) for the eerily compelling music score; the earnest attempt to portray mental disintegration on a low budget --which perhaps because of the very limitations of resources, at times harks back to German Expressionist films of the Twenties; and Boone's usual more than competent performance. The films liabilities are Bikel (who for whatever reason was envisioned by the producers as a Scottish caretaker with a very iffy brogue when he could have played a little Polish Jewish caretaker very handily); and the denouement which sort of undercuts the terrific buildup of events toward a climax. About this last, I must say I came to this film with very little prior knowledge of what to expect. I grew increasingly perplexed as the film moved toward its finish, spellbound, anxious to see what was back of all that was happening. Maybe the film cast its spell so well over me that no ending could have lived up to my level of anxiety and wonder. If so, that speaks very highly of the film as an experience. In any event, for me the end was a let down, a bit like the end of an episode of Scooby Doo when the guy with the pencil mustache is exposed, yet again, as the hand behind the haunting of some old mansion or castle. ("And I'd have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those darn kids!") This film demonstrates the heights to which low budget independent films of the 50s and early 60s could soar. This tops any Roger Corman production, as far as I am concerned, in the scope of its concerns, and in what it aims to do, which is subtly and convincingly show someone undergoing things that make them doubt their sanity. (This is handled better here than in most mainstream or big budget horror and suspense films of the same period, where someone is okay one minute, and gargling drano and setting the kids on fire the next.) Ten Stars See it.
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Looks like it was written for the stage
GJValent13 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I've only seen this movie twice. Once as a network flick in the early 60s. Again as a local late nighter in the 90s. The first time, I was a scared twelve year old. The second, I was a thoughtful adult. I have to disagree with many about the ending. It does clean things up a little quickly, but, it makes this a satisfying suspense film, rather than a schlocky corpse/zombie movie. The meager budget and dependence on one main set, the small caretakers office, fairly screams that this is an adapted stage play. After reading many of the other posts, apparently this was written for the screen. It should be on the list of small theatre companies across the country. A well done stage version would be very effective. Live on stage or a revival of this film, what's in your mind is always more terrifying than what you're watching. As for the cast, Richard Boone is great, wooden perhaps, but as a man who is terrified of his own imagined power. I'll always think of Herbert Anderson as the father of Dennis the Menace. Theodore Bikel, Scottish ? Oh, well.
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Very eerie chiller, that's really quite an underrated gem, with a chilling story and solid performances!
callanvass18 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very eerie chiller, that's really quite an underrated gem, with a chilling story and awesome performances!. All the characters are cool, and It's absolutely filled with creepy atmosphere, plus Richard Boone is wonderful as the lead. It's very well made and written, and I thought it had a very unique plot to it as well, plus the finale is especially creepy and suspenseful!. It's also very unpredictable, as you never know what's gonna happen next, and just the setting at the cemetery for the most part anyway, just gave me the chills, plus for some odd reasons those Black and White pins really Creeped me out. The music in it is fantastic, and I think this should be a lot higher then 6.1 in my opinion, plus I really liked the ending as well. Yes it does look a little cheap, but it helps that the film is so imaginative, and creepy, plus just the fact that you can determine how long a man will live by a bunch of black pins just gave me the Creeps!. Theodore Bikel is excellent as the creepy Undertaker, and it moves along at a really good pace, plus I got this in a DVD set called Back From The Grave, as I am certainly glad it was on there!. This is a very eerie chiller, that's really quite an underrated gem, with a chilling story and awesome performances, and I say it's a must see!. The Direction is awesome!. Albert Band does an awesome! job here, with very good camera work, creating tons and tons of creepy atmosphere, using a great creepy setting, and he kept the film at a fast pace. The Acting is really good!. Richard Boone is brilliant here, he is extremely likable, full of fear and vulnerability, but also strong, he also really reminded me a lot of Vincent Price(I know that's been said before, but it's true!), and you will feel his pain, I loved him!. Theodore Bikel is excellent as the creepy undertaker, and gave an excellent show, I really dug him!. Peggy Maurer is OK as the Fiancée and did what she had to do adequately. Rest of the cast are fine. Overall a must see!. **** out of 5
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Richard Boone's Map Pin Massacre
JKnight_author_of_RISEN1 December 2003
First, let me state that I'm an unabashed fan of The Twilight Zone, so when I say that I Bury the Living is, indeed, much like a TZ episode, that's a compliment!

Boone's performance is excellent as the cemetery man who seems to have the ability...or the curse...to cause people to die by sticking pins into a map of the cemetery.

The movie has its flaws, including a tendency for anyone in the film who doubts Boone's ability (including Boone himself) to stick a pin in the map to find out if anyone dies, which is a bit like pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger to see if the gun's loaded. And the ending seems grafted on and at odds with the rest of the film.

The rest of the film, though, is pretty good and is imaginatively filmed, becoming positively Expressionist as Boone's "madness" sets in. All in all, I gave it a "7" for the things it does well. Definitely worth taking a look at...if you like The Twilight Zone.
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A hidden gem
Bo_Svenson5 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
* may contain spoilers *

Not too much to add to what others have written here; it's one of those great little suspense/thriller films that rises far above its B-movie origins. Although I wouldn't really call it scary, it was engrossing, well-acted, and had great atmosphere. Did anyone else notice that the more the film focuses on the map, the more it starts to look like an abstract drawing of a face glaring out at the viewer? I also thought comparisons to a map of the brain were quite apt.

I was quite intrigued by an earlier comment that claims the ending as written in the original script has Boone's character locked inside the caretaker's shed with the re- animated corpses of his victims (caused by his switching the black pins with white) calling for him from outside, causing him to die of fright. This would have been a much more frightening ending, worthy of the excellent buildup, and could have also functioned as a "did it really happen or did he just go insane?" puzzler. The plot seems to hint that he is exhausted and possibly overwhelmed by his business concerns, which could lead to his mental breakdown.

One point I noticed that lends credence to the alternate ending and is never explained in the real ending is that during the night he replaces the black pins with white, there are several close-ups on the graves of the deceased that clearly show the ground rising from underneath as if a corpse was rising. Since Boone isn't present, these scenes can't represent his point of view. Maybe the test audience didn't like the original ending. ;^)
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Solid B picture.
Hey_Sweden12 August 2012
Rugged TV star Richard Boone ('Have Gun, Will Travel') headlines this modest little chiller whose horrors are largely of the psychological variety. As written by Louis Garfinkle, and directed by Albert Band, it shows how the events of the story take their toll on the main character, and how he deteriorates physically and mentally. Band and company create some some good visual tricks and nice scene transitions as they establish a suitably creepy atmosphere.

Boone plays Bob Kraft, a department store executive who as a tradition in his company assumes the duty of cemetery director for a year. He finds that he seems to have a power over life and death when it comes to the grave owners. On a map of the cemetery, white or black push pins mark graves either occupied (black) or designated for future use (white). When he puts the black push pins in, the owners of those graves mysteriously perish, and he comes to feel great guilt over this horrible ability he seems to have acquired.

Granted, this film could have had even more punch had the filmmakers gone with the ending as scripted, which would have been more eerie and more in tone with the rest of the film. In the finished film, they make the unfortunate move of giving everything a "rational" explanation.

The film is at its best when Boone is left alone to ponder the macabre situation in which he now finds himself; there is a strong point made in the script about the unknown powers of the mind. Boone is excellent in the lead, and receives sturdy support from a cast also including folk singer Theodore Bikel as amiable cemetery grounds keeper Andy McKee, Peggy Maurer as Bobs' girlfriend Ann Craig, Howard Smith as Bobs' concerned uncle George, Herbert Anderson as jovial reporter "Jess" Jessup, and Robert Osterloh as hard nosed police detective Lt. Clayborne.

Clocking in at a trim 78 minutes, "I Bury the Living" just gets better as it goes along, with a superb climactic sequence of the weary Bob starting to succumb to guilt and terror, and discovering some nasty surprises in the cemetery. As has been said, this comes best recommended to people who like "thinking mans' horror films". It's both interesting and entertaining throughout.

Seven out of 10.
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No needles, just pins.
hitchcockthelegend19 July 2012
I Bury the Living is directed by Albert Band and written by Louis Garfinkle. It stars Richard Boone, Theodore Bikel, Howard Smith, Herbert Anderson, Robert Osterloh and Peggy Maurer. Music is scored by Gerald Fried and cinematography by Frederick Gately.

Robert Kraft (Boone) is appointed as the custodian of Immortal Hills Cemetery. On the wall in the cemetery office is a large map that details the plots that are taken by the dead, and the plots that are reserved by other town members. These are signified by black (taken) and white (reserved) pins. When Kraft accidentally places a black pin on the names of living people, he is stunned to find they end up dead shortly after. Coincidence?

The title and the fabulous poster art that accompanies it has lured in many a horror fan, only for them to be disappointed with the end product since it's more a mystery thriller with potentially supernatural overtones. A slimline and modest budgeted pic, it's a film that sadly doesn't make the most of the premise at its core. However, there's still a very enjoyable movie here, one that thrives on an uneasy atmosphere and showcases some neat visual film noirish, touches.

Shot in stark black and white to perfectly emphasise the shadowy tension in the plotting, director Band deftly lets the office cemetery map become the dominant force of the piece, marrying it up with the ever fretful Kraft's mental being. These scenes with just Kraft in the cold isolated office are the films best. Though the outer shots in the cemetery, with tombstones and wrought iron fencing, are suitably eerie too.

Boone leads off with a very good performance as a man trying to comprehend the situation whilst doing the right thing, and music and photography is well worthy of our eyes and ears. It could have gone a darker route with Boone's protagonist, while the resolution has understandably infuriated more than it has pleased, but for its unique feel and worthy tech credits it's a better than average time filler. 7/10

DVD viewed was French Region 2 release from Bach Movies. Good print transfer but subtitles are not removable and lip sync a problem at times. No extras.
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Pin this one on your map and enjoy the sights and sounds of fate.
Cinema_Fan6 December 2008
Gerald Fried (b. 1928), composer, and Frederick Gately (1909 - 1988), cinematographer, are the instigators of a wonderful film of sound and vision, and with this Louis Garfinkle (1928 - 2005) penned story, who, some twenty years on, was to pen The Deer Hunter (1978), have created a tense 1950's Noir style thriller. This is a great piece of 1950's horror, and starring Richard Boone (1917 - 1981), while not altogether horrific up-front, it is the fact that both science and the supernatural are at play here.

Having the power over life can be a daunting reality, and it is with the, literally, broad shoulders of Robert Kraft (Boone) who must take on this responsibility. The story is not very far away from the olden Haitian days of the Voodoo and zombie myths that were to penetrate the world's stages, books and cinemas. With pins and maps replacing voodoo dolls, this, mixed with its gripping score, wonderful black and white photography and the stellar casting of Richard Boone, I Bury the Living is a psychological attack on the mind and the slow demise into despair and guilt. Aware of this gift, Kraft endeavours to inform all those he trusts and believes can help him. His woes are simply put as coincidence and that nature has taking its choice and given some, her gift. Science too, has its place, with its rational reasoning that fate, through life, has simply chosen these people to die.

Richard Boone's performance as the troubled Robert Kraft is the man driven to near suicide, who, having the equivalent charisma and drama as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942) and Jerry Connolly in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), a cool demure set against a stern eagerness, casting Mr. Boone here has done both film and himself a world of good.

See this film for what it is, an interesting B-movie of its generation that has a superb visual tone of the great days of Hitchcock and a musical drama that highlights the tension and intrigue that draws you into both the concerns and anguish of this cursed man.
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So underrated
brautigan-126-78425027 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Just watched it on Netflix and I was shocked at how good this was.

Unfortunately, no one saw fit to keep the film in good shape, so it doesn't look good, and the audio is very tinny.

When I read the plot summary for this film, I was sure I was in for a disappointment. I was certain that we'd have a villain who discovers he has a power, keeps it a secret, and uses it to his advantage.

Nope, the main character is actually the protagonist, and his power is the antagonist. Could he really have to kill, just by placing a pin in a map, or is it all just coincidence? The only way to know is to test it. Ultimately, his colleagues FORCE him to test his power, to their own demise! The dialogue, acting and some of the direction were really, really good.

Look past the film quality and recognize the elements that shine in this very, very unique film, especially if you love weird tales.

If I were to bill a double feature with this as the first film, the second film would be Village of the Damned. Great pairing right there.

Check it out, for real!!!!
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Does He Really?
AaronCapenBanner17 October 2013
Richard Boone plays Robert Kraft, the newly elected director of a cemetery who finds himself involved in a morbid mystery when people who have plots in the cemetery begin mysteriously dying, especially when Robert realizes that he mistakenly put a black pin(for dead) in place of a white pin(for living) on a big map representing all the burial plots in the cemetery, for people who subsequently died. This doesn't seem to be a coincidence, since every time he does it, someone else dies... Can Robert stop this jinx, or is something else going on here? Theodore Bikel costars as the retiring caretaker Andy McKee. Despite a good score and direction, this film is ruined by the revelation at the end, which is simply not credible, as if it was thought of at the last minute. Too bad, because this could have been good.
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Neat little thriller
preppy-316 May 2001
Eerie little film about a cemetery caretaker (Richard Boone) who finds he can cause the deaths of people by changing their white pins in a cemetery map into black pins...or can he? Sounds silly and the film definetely has it's dull stretches (even at 75 minutes), but it works. The whole cast plays it straight, which helps, and there's also a very spooky music score. Also some views of the map were pretty spooky. I felt the ending cheated a little, but it worked. Good compact thriller--not a horror film. Recommended.
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Can he control your fate?
the lioness15 January 2002
I saw this film recently & boy was I end for a shock. It keeps you on "pins & needles" (excuse the pun).

Its the story of a wealthy man that inherits the duties of running the local cemetery from an elder in the family. One day the man removes one the pins by accident & the owner of the grave plot turns up dead. Of course this doesn't go un-noticed by him. The cops never believe him & by the middle of the story the guy is out of his mind with fear because it keeps happening.

Due to Richard Boone's good acting & the good writing of this film, you too will be convinced of Boone's powers over the living & the dead. However, without giving the ending away, I was a little disappointed. But I let that go & allow this film to stay in my collection because underneath this film is a good whodunit.

Its the kind of film that takes you for a ride, plays with your powers of deduction, has you thinking you're right when you're wrong. It scares you & un-nerves you which is interesting because by the time the story ends, you realize you've been going through the same pathos that Boone goes through which is kind of fun.

Oh, for you lovers of classic TV characters, be on the lookout for the actor that portrayed the father of Denis from the show, "Denis the Menace".
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