I Bury the Living (1958)

“Maps and pins can’t kill alone — the power of a human brain has to be behind it.”

I Bury the Living Poster

Synopsis:
The newly appointed chairman (Richard Boone) of a cemetery soon discovers that by pushing a black pin onto a plot on a map, he will cause the death of the plot’s owner — yet nobody believes him, and deaths continue to mount.

Genres:

Review:
This low-budget horror flick — more akin to a Twilight Zone episode than a feature film — holds interest throughout its 75 minutes. Based on a remarkably simple premise, I Bury the Living remains unique because of its decision to show Boone as a tortured soul who no one will believe, rather than a gleeful madman who revels in his newfound power. Director Albert Band makes good, restrained use of camera tricks and extreme lighting to show Boone’s state of mind, and turns the cemetery map itself into a virtual piece of psychedelic art (see still below). While critics are divided in their opinions of the film’s denouement (most hate it), these final five minutes fortunately do little to take away from the enjoyment of what’s come before.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Richard Boone as the troubled chairman
    Boone
  • Effective cinematography and camera tricks to reflect Boone’s degenerating state of mind
    Dark
  • The surprisingly creepy cemetery map
    Map

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.

Links:

2 Responses to “I Bury the Living (1958)”

  1. A must – for the reasons stated in the assessment.

    This is a low-budget thriller (rightly compared to an extended ‘Twilight Zone’ episode) that really does hold you – and works because it ultimately genuinely surprises with its conclusion (despite what certain critics may have said). And it’s all the more satisfying cause it rises above its early scenes – which veer closely toward Ed Wood territory. From there on, the film builds with (as noted) increasingly clever technique.

    Rarely do we go from thinking a cast is slumming to a cast is appearing in a sleeper humdinger.

  2. I’m willing to concede that this one is a must… As I read your post, and reread my own, I felt a strong urge to watch it again — surely a sign that a film has staying power!

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