I Bury The Living, 1958
Gaudy title ((Inaccurate, too. )), competent little flick.
I Bury The Living opens by competently setting up the situation — Richard Boone has been made chairman of a cemetery for a year (it’s a responsibility that’s passed around the family, for some reason that I missed), and is walked through the duties and responsibilities he’ll have. In the process, the newly-married Drexels drive up, having to arrange for a burial plot before they can make use of a trust from Stuart Drexel’s dad’s estate. They talk to Boone about it, without getting out of their convertible, and then drive off.
At this point, Groundskeeper Willie ((He’s not named Willie, but he is Scottish, is the groundskeeper, and I feel certain is one of the inspirations for the Simpsons character. )) shows Boone the Map — a map of the entire cemetery, with each plot marked off, and names on those that are occupied or already purchased. Those with names have a pin — a black-headed pin for plots that have remains in them, and white pins for those purchased, but whose owners are among the living. At the end of this, Boone picks up two pins and absentmindedly puts them into the plots for the Drexels. The pins have black heads.
Within a very short time (it’s unclear whether it’s hours later, or a week), the Drexels have been killed in a car accident.
Now here’s two points of competence already. Up to this point in the movie, I had no notion of where the story was going. It wasn’t aimless, and I certainly knew it was a horror movie, but I had the notion from the title that Boone was going to go seriously Edgar Allen Poe on somebody, and until this event, I hadn’t seen how it could work from the setup. Once this event happened, I went “Oh,” and waited for it to start to suck.
But it didn’t.
Boone learns of the Drexels’ demise, finds that their plots on the map already have black pins in them, and….
See, if this were a bad movie, he’d immediately believe that there was something supernaturally bad about the map. Or, he’d scoff at the very notion, while somebody else would insist that it was the only explanation.
Instead, he feels a very definite twinge, looks like someone walked over his grave, but treats it like any rational man would, as a bizarre coincidence.
It takes a couple more identical incidents for him to start questioning both the map’s powers and his own sanity.
From there, he begins trying to figure out what’s going on and why. Is the map cursed? Is he cursed, either supernaturally or with some sort of unknown paranormal power? Is something else entirely going on?
You’ve likely noticed that I don’t hold back on spoilers for movies that suck. But here, I’m not going to spoil anything further, because this really is a well-made film, especially considering how low-budget it is ((It’s definitely a central location flick, and probably could have been shot in two weeks, though I don’t know that it was. )).
This is not a great movie, it’s no kind of a classic, but it is good. It does what it sets out to do, it mostly plays fair (there is at least one shot that is a cheat, but it’s a very minor one), and it treats both its characters and its audience with respect. Entertaining and enjoyable if you like creepy movies at all.