I Bury the Living

 (115)
6.31 h 17 min1958PG-13
A bone-chilling story of cemetary manager Robert Craft (Boone), a disturbed man who comes to believe that he is actually God. Robert discovers that when he sticks a black pin into a wall-sized map of the cemetary, he can cause the owner of that plot to die. After several such untimely deaths, Robert believes he has the power of life and death. But will Robert still believe this once he discovers the true secret behind these deaths?
Directors
Albert Band
Starring
Richard BooneTehodore BikelPeggy Maurer
Genres
Horror
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Howard I. Smith
Studio
Reel Enterprises
Rating
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Purchase rights
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

115 global ratings

  1. 62% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 23% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

SciFi-Kaiju-Guy @ TeePublicReviewed in the United States on April 30, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Creepy, effective supernatural murder-mystery is worth a look. Nice-looking hi-def transfer makes this offbeat chiller a keeper.
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BOTTOM LINE: Stylish, well-made horror film knows how to pile on the tension. Judge this film for what it is, not for what it isn't. Now, finally available in a very nice hi-def release that puts all previous editions to shame. Recommended. 5 STARS

STORY: Well-to-do businessman Bob Kraft reluctantly takes his turn serving as director of the local cemetery. The job should only amount to a few hours a month; mostly signing paperwork ...and tracking cemetery plot purchases & recent deaths, using black or white push pins on a large map of the graveyard. But soon afterwards, an eerie set of tragic coincidences quickly leaves Kraft questioning whether or not he actually controls the power of Life & Death. Does he truly possess some horrific supernatural ability, or is it all in his mind... or is it something else entirely??

THOUGHTS: First caught this creepy little flick on VHS decades ago, and it's remained a favorite over the years. Forget the grumblers here who gripe because the film isn't what they thought or feel it should be. That's foolhardy, and does a great disservice to the film. Granted, I was originally left somewhat baffled and a little disappointed when it wasn't what I expected. But over the years I have come to appreciate this film for all that it does have to offer. The movie overcomes its B-picture limitations, offering the look & feel of a polished A-level production. The acting is fairly good across the board, with only the performance of leading lady Peggy Maurer coming across as somewhat sub-par. Craggy-faced Richard Boone gives a restrained, convincing performance as the overworked young executive who comes to suspect that something completely beyond the realm of human understanding has imbued him with the ability to actually decide who lives & who dies. The direction, while unspectacular, is nonetheless solid & effective. The minimal production design is quite good. (The cemetery map itself cleverly becomes a character in the movie, growing larger and more ominous every time we see it, until it's almost a living thing.) And the memorably moody & inventive camerawork is a true first class effort, courtesy of Director of Photography Frederick Gately.

THE BLU-RAY: The hi-def debut of this time-worn horror staple comes courtesy of Shout!Factory's Scream division. The picture is very clean, with only a smattering of dirt & debris on occasion - mostly during the opening & closing credits. No artifacting, pixelation, edge enhancement or crush (video noise) that I could detect. The audio portion is clean and the soundmix is level. Only English subtitles are available. Sadly, the only bonus features are a brief photo gallery of promotional stills & a copy of the film's theatrical trailer. Still, this slick little spookfest has finally made the transition from crappy, washed out Public Domain junk editions, to a fairly pristine & fully legit home video release. That alone should be cause for celebration among vintage Horror fans & collectors.
14 people found this helpful
Sean WanderseeReviewed in the United States on April 8, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Never Become Chairman of a Cemetery
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Successful business man agrees to become chairman of the local cemetery that has a huge map full of coloured pins, white for sold but unoccupied, black for occupied. When an incorrect pin is put in a plot suddenly the occupant dies and soon our business man becomes convinced he is responsible.

A really unique and interested concept, basically this is a feature length episode of the Twilight Zone. This movie has this ominous cloud of dread hanging over it the entire time. The movie really benefits from being shot in black and white giving it that extra feeling of bleak darkness. I usually get tired of these one idea movies that feel like Twilight Zone episodes because they have one idea and when that’s been used they just spin their wheels waiting the end of the film. This movie manages to keep the suspense and dread building and building right up to the end. As the map grows larger and larger so does the dread. It is a really good movie that proves you can have one big idea and make it work for an entire film. Good rule of thumb never take a job where your office is in the middle of a cemetery unless you’re really handy with a shovel, just in case.
One person found this helpful
James C GirasaReviewed in the United States on July 6, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very Good horror film with Twilight Zone feel
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This review is for the Blu-Ray version 'I Bury The Living' released by Shout! Factory in April, 2017.

This movie has been previously released as part of the MGM Midnite Movies collection.

BLU-RAY and EXTRA'S: The picture is excellent. That's all I can really say. Keep in mind the movie is in black and white. You don't get anything in the way of extra's, just subtitles.

PLOT: Robert Kraft (Richard Boone) ends up with the duties of director of a cemetery. He doesn't want the job but is forced to take it. His family owns a large department store and he works for them. The current caretaker, who is being pushed out, explains Kraft's duties to him. He shows him a map of the cemetery on the wall. Any plot that has a black pin means that somebody has died and has been buried there. Any plots with a white pin is owned by the somebody living. Kraft accidentally puts a black pin in a plot of land owned by somebody living. That person dies immediately afterward. This disturbs Kraft and makes him feel responsible. His friends and family insist he did nothing wrong and they force him to do the same thing again. The results are the same. Kraft begins to have a mental breakdown after he places more black pins in plots of land owned by the living with the same results. Is Robert Kraft causing these people to die or is there another explanation?

COMMENTS: I enjoyed this movie and if you are a fan of 'The Twilight Zone' then you will probably like this. That might be a reach but to me for most of the movie it felt like an episode from that series though obviously movie length. Though the somewhat weak and unrealistic ending is not a typical 'Twilight Zone' like ending.

Though Richard Boone had a long career I think of him as the wealthy industrialist in the cult movie, 'The Last Dinosaur.'

RECOMMENDATIONS: I'm giving this movie 4 stars for the good plot and the excellent print. It's a bit pricey for just one old obscure black and white horror movie but I enjoyed it, thus the 4 stars. The extra's are pretty much non-existant and it is pricey so it won't be for everyone.
2 people found this helpful
C. C. BlackReviewed in the United States on May 27, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Heigh, Ho, Nobody Home
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Watching this movie was a blast from my past. I watched it some fifty-five years ago on a local station's Saturday night "Shock Theater." This is one mixed bag of haggis.

The good: Richard Boone, one year into "Have Gun–Will Travel" (CBS), convincingly plays a good, tortured man who's driving himself crazy. A lesser actor would have made this unwatchable, but Boone pulls it off. Except for the female lead, Peggy Maurer, who brings little to the party, Boone is surrounded by capable character actors (including Herbert Anderson, whom old-timers may remember as the father of TV's "Dennis the Menace," Jay North). Albert Band's direction is uneven: some scenes are staged so statically that I nearly fell asleep; others are so surrealistic that it snapped me back to attention. Gerald Fried's score is suitably weird, with duets for tuba and harpsichord, and chord progressions that may remind you of "Star Trek" episodes he scored nine years later. And the movie's premise is spooky—you have to hand it that.

The less good: This has "B" movie written all over it, as though it were made in ten days with a budget of about twenty-five bucks. There are two, maybe three, interior sets in 84 minutes. With maybe one exception, the actors look like they wore their own clothes from home. (Though it never rains, Anderson wears one raincoat throughout the picture, which must have given Lt. Columbo an idea.) The day-for-night exteriors are unconvincing. After a neat build-up, the ending collapses like a house of cards, trying to wrest sense out of nonsense.

But you know what? Even though I chanced to watch the crappy video version—to judge from other reviews, there must be another, cleaner print out there, somewhere—its crummy appearance seemed right for the seediness of the proceedings. Even though it's hokum, it's entertaining hokum. A really good B movie that does its job with the resources available pleases me more than an A budget movie that fails to reach its potential. Take it for what it is, no more and no less, and it's a guilty pleasure. With Boone carrying the weight, there's more pleasure than guilt.
James C SmithReviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
A 30-Minute Story Crammed Into 77
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This is not a bad movie. It stands on an interesting, occult-like premise. The acting is solid. The cast is likable. The directing is fine.

The only problem I had with it is that it is far too little story for its 77-minute duration. There was one pound of story in a five pound bag. I kept waiting for the story to grow more complex, leading up to a surprise ending. But when the movie finished, I found myself still waiting.

Note that there are more than one version of this movie on Prime Video. The one sourced by Maxim is blurry, and the subtitles sentences are oddly divided. The one sourced by Universal is crisp and clearly a superior product.

2.5 STARS
One person found this helpful
ChrisSherrillReviewed in the United States on October 16, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not so good
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I think Richard Boone was one of the best of his era, and it is only his contribution that makes “I Bury the Living” at all watchable. It wasn’t frightening, suspenseful or creepy at all, and the end was so, so bad. There’s no lead up to it, and why were they watching the grounds keeper anyway? I watched on a laptop, so maybe the smallish screen added to the problem, but it was so dark there were times I could barely see the movie. The music was monotonous and uninspired. So, bad story, bad script, bad directing, bad lighting and bad music. If you love Richard Boone, watch it. Otherwise, pass.
Bill Carson (Unknown)Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Bury The Plot And Enjoy The Film!
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I love this film and consider it a underated classic of B cinema even though the plot really does not hold water when all said and done. It’s got a great atmosphere, mystery, and that old b/w horror charm.
3 people found this helpful
Chip KaufmannReviewed in the United States on December 17, 2006
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Classic Of Its Kind.
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I consider this 1958 film a classic of its kind but that doesn't make it a "classic". However it follows honorably in the footsteps of 1940s film producer Val Lewton in the "less is more" category by using sight and sound rather than shock to create a profound sense of unease. It's a B movie all the way and clearly shows what can be done on a meager budget with that most valuable of resources...imagination.

Richard Boone (just before he played Paladin in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL) stars as a caretaker who discovers that he has the power of life and death by sticking black and white pins in a cemetery map. The film becomes increasingly nightmarish when Boone decides to reverse the pins with terrifying results. If you've read a few of the other reviews you know about the ending that everybody loves to hate. It attempts to put a logical as opposed to supernatural explanation on what happens much like the ending to Tod Browning's MARK OF THE VAMPIRE. The original ending (part of which is in the trailer) was meant to be supernatural but it was ultimately rejected. Despite the present ending, I BURY THE LIVING still has the ability to remain with you long after countless other "scarier" movies have been forgotten. Just ask Stephen King who talks about it in his book DANSE MACABRE.

If it's B movie blood and gore you want than head for the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD but if you enjoy a literate script with TWILIGHT ZONE/ALFRED HITCHCOCK twists and turns, effective music, and solid performances then check this one out. Be advised there are a number of low budget DVD versions out there but the one to get is the MGM Midnite Movies edition from 2001. It's no longer available new but there are plenty of used copies at good prices. The print quality and sound are the best available and give this little black and white gem its maximum impact.
6 people found this helpful
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