The Dead Don’t Die (1975)

Article 2495 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-2-2008
Posting Date: 6-11-2008
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Featuring George Hamilton, Ray Milland, Linda Cristal
Country: USA

A man is framed for the murder of his wife. On the eve of his execution, he begs his brother to find out the truth. The brother investigates on his own, but his investigation takes a strange turn when he sees his freshly-executed brother alive.

Though this mid-seventies TV-Movie isn’t exactly a bundle of energy, I found myself quite entertained by it. First of all, I like the fact that they couched the story as a mystery; as a result, I found my attention caught up in finding out the details of the situation, and I was quite happy when the story (which starts as a straightforward mystery) finally takes its turn into the fantastic. I also like various little touches, such as the attention to detail during the execution sequence, and the fact that a dance marathon (where tired dancers drag each other across the floor like zombies) adds to the atmosphere. A cast of familiar faces also helps; we have George Hamilton, Ray Milland, Ralph Meeker, Joan Blondell, Reggie Nalder and, in smaller roles, Milton Parsons (as an undertaker, and you think I would have been able to spot him instead of finding out by reading the credits), Yvette Vickers, and one-time Bowery Boy William Benedict (IMDB doesn’t say who he’s playing, but I wonder if he’s the night watchman in the warehouse). Horror fans will also recognize the names of the director (Curtis Harrington) and the writer (Robert Bloch). One smart move: the name of our protagonist is Donald Drake; given that this is not a comedy, it’s wise they never mention his full name.


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