5.6/10
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16 user 14 critic

The Dead Don't Die (1975)

In the 1930s, a sailor trying to prove that his brother was wrongly executed for murder finds himself becoming drawn in the occult world.

Director:

Curtis Harrington

Writer:

Robert Bloch
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Cast

Cast overview:
George Hamilton ... Don Drake
Linda Cristal ... Vera LaValle
Joan Blondell ... Levenia
Ralph Meeker ... Police Lt. Reardon
James McEachin ... Frankie Specht
Reggie Nalder ... Perdido
Ray Milland ... Jim Moss
Jerry Douglas ... Ralph Drake
Milton Parsons ... Frazier--Funeral Home Receptionist
William O'Connell ... Priest
Yvette Vickers ... Miss Adrian
Brendan Dillon ... Prison Chaplain (as Brendon Dillon)
Russ Grieve ... Prison Guard (as Russ Grieves)
Bill Smillie Bill Smillie ... Newspaper Man
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Storyline

The story begins in the Illinois State Penitentiary where Ralph Drake is about to be executed for the murder of his wife. At Ralph's request, his brother, Don, sets out to clear his name and find the real murderer. It's a search that takes him into a nightmarish world where no one can be trusted. Don first seeks out Ralph's former employer, Moss, who runs a sleazy marathon dance hall, and enlists his help in finding the murderer. Then Don encounters Vera LaValle who warns him that he is in mortal danger because he is close to uncovering the insidious plan of a man called Varek - the Zombie Master. Learning that his own brother Ralph is a zombie, Don tries to warn the authorities. But will anyone believe him? Written by Leo Urbina

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 January 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Toten sterben nicht See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Perdido: Mr Drake! I have been waiting for you!
Don Drake: Perdito?
Perdido: Perdito is dead! His body is merely an instrument through which I speak. The dead are my children!
Don Drake: [Appalled] Children? Who are you?
Perdido: Who am I? I am... Varrick!
[Reaches up from coffin and grabs Drake by the throat]
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User Reviews

 
Quality and genuinely creepy TV horror minor gem
17 April 2012 | by BloodwankSee all my reviews

A solid step ahead for director Curtis Harrington and writer Robert Bloch from their collaboration on The Cat Creature, The Dead Don't Die is a delightfully unhinged and at times surprisingly chilling supernatural mystery, hearkening this time back to the 1930's but doing rather better in capturing the anything goes pulp serial atmosphere of that time. The story has Navy man on leave Don Drake on a mission to clear his brother's name, said brother having been executed for apparently killing his wife. On the trail he gets warned off by strange beauty Vera LaValle, and comes to find that something really rather bizarre is going on. Now although it's been more than a decade since I read Bloch's original story so I can't compare writing and adaptation, but Harrington expertly captures the surreal and melodramatic night- realm of great 20th century horror. Barely any scenes take place in daylight even when the timeline seems to indicate that they should, but the film makes all this night-time scrambling seem perfectly natural, as if the film takes place in some strange, half dreamt but grimly real region where light itself is unnatural and solutions or escape fleeting. Though the story ultimately comes down to traditional zombies stretched into a slightly ill conceived conspiracy, the general atmosphere and smattering of creepy details (like skin crawling dance marathon moments) brings the film into quality disturbing psychotronic territory. The generally great performances do a great deal as well of course, George Hamilton bringing things together as a rock solid, faithful and committed man steadily harrowed by strange circumstance, Reggie Nalder giving real heft to a traditional ghoul role, Ray Milland wearing his tired, worn and corrupt character with easy style and not a little sympathy, and Linda Cristal evocative as the haunted beauty of the film. The pace is somewhat measured and the set pieces (such as they are) evenly spaced, so those seeking swift gratification will surely be disappointed, and the sadly fairly poor quality of most copies of the film currently in circulation may well put off others, but for the dedicates of this kind of cinema, The Dead Don't Die is a definite winner. It's a great example of traditional zombie horror at a time when the Romero paradigm was close to taking over, the cast is classy and the scares still resonant despite the lack of any gruesome or outré shocks. All in all a solid 7/10 from me, highly recommended to fans of this sort of thing.


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