Robert Kraft is the new director of the Immortal Hills Cemetery. During an introductory tour by groundskeeper McKee, he is shown an elaborate map of the grounds. Detailed enough that it even shows occupied plots with black pins and plots that are reserved with white pins. The weirdness starts when Kraft accidentally puts black pins in the map for a young couple who reserved a plot. They soon turn up dead. Naturally this gives everyone involved a bad case of the creeps, but it is dismissed as a coincidence. He couldn’t really be adding to the cemetery’s inmates simply by changing a pin? Kraft gets the idea to try another pin with similar results. Is the map killing people? Is Kraft going insane? Or is there some other dark force at work?
I bury The Living is a bit of a surprise. I first came across it in the bargain section of the old video rental shop in my hometown. I’ve always loved low budget horror, crime and scifi films and rented it expecting a low budget zombie film or some other kind of schlock film. What I got was a well made little psychological suspense film. The film starts slow, but builds nicely as Kraft begins to wonder if the map really does affect who lives and who dies.
The camera work is surprisingly good, high quality cuts and fades and well-lit, with good lighting and contrast in both the indoors and outdoors scenes. The music is low key but effective, just odd enough to let you know it’s there and to set up the proper mood. A large part of the film is shot in what appears to be an actual cemetery which gives the film even more of a creepy feel. The film really does a good job of building a sense of dread and foreboding.
It’s a shame that this quirky little film didn’t get the attention it deserved when it was released. It lasted for a while on the drive-in circuit, only to be rediscovered during the VHS home video revolution when virtually anything was released to VHS.
Verdict: 3.5 Gavels out of 5
Good little psychological thriller/mystery cleverly disguised as a B picture horror film. If you like creepy psychological drama, give this one a try. Since it’s out of copyright I Bury The Living is available on archive.org