Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I BURY THE LIVING


I BURY THE LIVING (1958). Director: Albert Band.

You may not hold out much hope for this low-budget Twilight Zone-like horror film, but stick with it and you may be surprised. Richard Boone stars as the new manager of a cemetery who accidentally sticks black pins ( meaning they’re dead) instead of white pins (alive) into a map of cemetery plots that also lists the names of the owners. The newlywed couple whose pins are black are killed shortly afterward, and Boone is pretty freaked. He deliberately puts in another black pin just to convince himself it’s all a fluke – and this man dies too. Several other people insist that he put in more black pins, trying to convince him to stop being silly and superstitious, and these people also die – supposedly of natural causes. You would think this idea wouldn’t work on anything other than a 22 minute TV show, but the movie manages to hold the attention for almost four times that length and becomes extremely disquieting to boot. Band’s direction is also inventive and admirable. Boone and the other cast members are fine, but a nearly unrecognizable Theodore Bikel (with a fine Scottish accent no less) steals the picture as retiring cemetery employee Andy. Okay, the contrived plot doesn’t really stand up to a lot of scrutiny, to say the least, and the movie has at least three different endings, but it has to be given points for being decidedly different.
Verdict: Definitely worth a look. ***.

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