6 May 2008 | Coventry
But They Do Scare The Hell Out Of The Living!
"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.