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The Dead Don't Die (1975)

In the 1930s, a sailor trying to prove that his brother was wrongly executed for murder finds himself becoming drawn in the occult world.


Curtis Harrington


Robert Bloch


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Cast overview:
George Hamilton ... Don Drake
Linda Cristal ... Vera LaValle
Joan Blondell ... Levenia
Ralph Meeker ... Police Lt. Reardon
James McEachin ... Frankie Specht
Reggie Nalder ... Perdido
Ray Milland ... Jim Moss
Jerry Douglas ... Ralph Drake
Milton Parsons ... Frazier--Funeral Home Receptionist
William O'Connell ... Priest
Yvette Vickers ... Miss Adrian
Brendan Dillon ... Prison Chaplain (as Brendon Dillon)
Russ Grieve ... Prison Guard (as Russ Grieves)
Bill Smillie Bill Smillie ... Newspaper Man


The story begins in the Illinois State Penitentiary where Ralph Drake is about to be executed for the murder of his wife. At Ralph's request, his brother, Don, sets out to clear his name and find the real murderer. It's a search that takes him into a nightmarish world where no one can be trusted. Don first seeks out Ralph's former employer, Moss, who runs a sleazy marathon dance hall, and enlists his help in finding the murderer. Then Don encounters Vera LaValle who warns him that he is in mortal danger because he is close to uncovering the insidious plan of a man called Varek - the Zombie Master. Learning that his own brother Ralph is a zombie, Don tries to warn the authorities. But will anyone believe him? Written by Leo Urbina

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Horror | Thriller

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

14 January 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Toten sterben nicht See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Perdido: Mr Drake! I have been waiting for you!
Don Drake: Perdito?
Perdido: Perdito is dead! His body is merely an instrument through which I speak. The dead are my children!
Don Drake: [Appalled] Children? Who are you?
Perdido: Who am I? I am... Varrick!
[Reaches up from coffin and grabs Drake by the throat]
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User Reviews

But They Do Scare The Hell Out Of The Living!
6 May 2008 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

"The Dead Don't Die" is a genuinely creepy and inventive 70's made-for-TV gem that regretfully ended up in total oblivion, and this in spite of the involvement of several really highly acclaimed names in the horror industry, like writer Robert Bloch ("Psycho", "Torture Garden"), director Curtis Harrington ("Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?", "What's the Matter with Helen?") and a long series of veteran cast members (Ray Milland, George Hamilton, Ralph Meeker, Reggie Nalder, …). Even more impressive than the names is the screenplay's ability to actually evoke real frights and maintain a continuously unsettling atmosphere. This is story-driven suspense without fancy make-up effects or spectacular stunts, but definitely with a handful of unforgettable jump scenes like, for example, the electric chair execution near the beginning and a corpse emerging from its coffin somewhere halfway through the film. George Hamilton stars as a former sailor called back home to attend the execution of his brother Ralph for a murder he swears he didn't commit. Don vows to clear Ralph's name and find out who really committed the crime his brother got punished for. Searching in sinister places and encountering uncanny people, Don discovers that his brother wasn't actually framed for murder but merely 'selected' for execution by an expert in the occult who wanted Ralph to serve in his army of the undead. The plot isn't exactly plausible, but nevertheless convincingly brought by cast and crew. The events supposedly take place in the 1930's and Curtis Harrington masterfully recreates the grim atmosphere of that decade with exact period details (like vehicles and costumes) and a cheap looking type of cinematography lacking color. Then there's also a copious amount of slick details that are just plain bizarre and indescribably eerie, like a dance hall full of near dead couples and one cute lady spontaneously combusting! Ray Milland is terrific and reliable as always, while Reggie Nalder is one of the creepiest actors who ever lived. "The Dead Don't Die" comes very much recommended, if you can find a decent copy of course.

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