February 04, 2009

The Web Brings "I Bury the Living" Back to Life!

Greetings. Last year I wrote about the joys of finally obtaining a copy of a long-lost film -- that had haunted me since childhood -- thanks to the Web (A Half-Century Search Ends for $1.99 and 2 Gigabytes).

I recently stumbled into another similar example, and while this time the film is not nearly as obscure, it's free availability on the Web demonstrates again how the Net Changes Everything.

The movie in question is 1958's I Bury the Living, starring Have Gun -- Will Travel's Richard Boone, in a very different sort of role as cemetery chairman Robert Kraft -- a man with a serious problem.

To understand character Kraft's dilemma, you need to know that while Boone is billed as the ostensible star of this film, the real star is a large, creepy cemetery map filled with pins -- white pins for vacancies, black pins for "bodies in residence." When chairman Kraft accidentally discovers that using black pins instead of white ones appears to result in the death of the associated parties, his mental state deteriorates rapidly.

I originally saw Bury on late night TV when I was less than ten years old, and for decades afterward it vanished from view. But I sure remembered that map with its roads seemingly twisted into a sneering face, and I never forgot those pins. As Kraft's condition fades, we see the map subjectively as he does, looming ever brighter, larger, and more foreboding.

While the film was low budget, the cinematography is in places utterly brilliant. And if the movie's powerful score seems to trigger future echos of music somehow familiar, it's likely because you've heard composer Gerald Fried's work in everything from Star Trek (e.g., "Spock in Heat" Amok Time) to a wide variety of other television and film projects.

Some reviewers have expressed disappointment at the ending of I Bury the Living -- but I don't care. It's one of a kind, a must see, and given that it's only one click away, you have no excuse for not, uh, digging in.

I have only one question -- is this film really Public Domain as claimed? Oh well, I'll take The Internet Archive at their word on this, and we can again thank the spinning disks, blinking routers, smoldering CPUs, and other assorted instrumentalities of the Internet for another trip deep (six feet under deep!) down memory lane.


Posted by Lauren at February 4, 2009 03:45 PM | Permalink
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