Powers of the Mind or Losing His Mind – I Bury the Living (1958)

“Science has learned that man possesses powers which go beyond the boundaries of the natural.

This is the story of one confronted by such strange forces within himself.”

Thus opens the film entitled I Bury the Living about a man who believes he has the power over life and death.  Robert Kraft, the man in question has just been elected as the new director of the cemetery committee.  A new person is elected every year and this time, it is Robert’s turn.  He meets the caretaker and inquires about the chart on the wall, to which he is told is a map of everyone’s plots.  The black pins signify someone who has already passed away and the white ones indicate people who are still living but have purchased a plot for the future.  Accidentally, Robert sticks in two black pins and the next day a young couple winds up dead.  Robert feels responsible, but to test his theory, he sticks another black pin in the chart at random and that person ends up dead as well.  And so it goes a number of times and Robert believes he has some sort of power over the fate of others.  It gets to the point where he is nearly insane and thinks he can bring the dead back to life by using the white pins.

I Bury the Living is a fun and suspenseful horror film starring Richard Boone as the new director who slowly loses his mind after every death in the film.  He does a fantastic job at making you believe he is going crazy and his behaviour gets more and more erratic.  You can see the worry behind his eyes and then the lunacy as he degenerates further and further.  Known for starring in westerns more than anything else, it was nice to see him take a rare turn in something he may not have been as comfortable with.
Theodore Bikel was fairly decent as the caretaker, Andy McKee and Robert Osterloh as Lt. Clayborne was actually quite humourous with his first run in with Robert Kraft at the cemetery.  Having supporting characters played by some decent actors really helped put the script by Louis Garfinkle across and make this a solid little B film.

If Robert’s mental state was not uncomfortable enough to watch during the movie, having the film centered around a graveyard gave it that extra bit of tension and anxiety to really push it closer to the edge.  Using the map to represent Robert’s mental state was also a bit of genius as it got bigger and brighter as he lost control.  Near the end of the film when Robert snapped back to reality, so too did the map become normal again as if nothing had ever happened.  A creepy film on all accounts.

Effective music by Gerald Fried and some good shots by director Albert Band transformed this into a memorable little movie.  Sadly, there are no zombies as the posters suggest, but it does not deter the film from being a good one.

4 out of 5

2 replies »

  1. Quite hilarious that the poster does not deliver on its promises! However, I am glad that this flick turned out eventful! The plot sounds like a lot of fun!


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