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I Bury the Living, 1958

From the DVD case: The new manager of a cemetery (Richard Boone) begins to question reality when he places black pins instead of white in the cemetery map, seemingly causing the owners of the plots to die. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: This could have been a great film. It starts out like a really well-done Twilight Zone episode, but ends up like an episode of Scooby-Doo. I can’t recall another film that promises so much and then disappoints so thoroughly.

Richard Boone does an admirable job portraying the new Committee Chairman of Immortal Hills Cemetery, Robert Kraft. He learns of a cemetery map with black pins signifying plots that are already taken and filled, and white pins denoting the plots that have been purchased, but not in use. Accidentally, he places black pins into plots for a couple of newlyweds, and the newlyweds die. He soon discovers that any time he places a black pin in a plot, the owner of the plot meets his demise. This portion of the film is wonderfully scripted, and really whets our imagination.

However, the story starts to fall apart when Mr. Kraft decides that he can bring the dead back to life by placing white pins in the plots where the people have died. By this time, we expect some type of zombie brigade, but that’s not what we get. What we get is a ridiculous ending that makes us feel cheated. I won’t give away the climax here, but I will say that no amount of Scooby snacks will make you feel better about it.

I would love to give this film higher marks, but the finale is so utterly disappointing that I can’t, in good conscience, give it any more than I have.

I Bury the Living is directed by Albert Band.

Scene to watch for: Caretaker Andy McKee could win a grave-digging contest, especially for his age category.

Line to listen for: “Ann, if you’re going to cry, do it someplace else.”

Trivia: You may recognize the reporter, played by Herbert Anderson, as the father from the Dennis the Menace tv series.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.



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