Monday, 12 September 2011
Retro review: The Dead Don't Die (1975 TVM)
Don heads back to Moss, who tries to convince him that maybe he's being set up, just as his brother was.
It was directed by veteran Curtis Harrington, who had made the early Dennis Hopper classic, Night Tide (1961), Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972) and the fondly remembered Ruby (1977). It is Harrington who we have to thank for James Whale's Old Dark House (1932) being available. As an personal friend of Whale, he paid for the dupe print to be made before all the elements deteriorated completely. You can spot him in the party scene in the brilliant Whale biopic Gods And Monsters (1998).
It was also written by Robert Bloch, who should need no introduction.
Like a lot of the 70s TV movies, this is peppered with star names, mostly those who could no longer get work in Hollywood, sadly. Worth watching out for are Reggie Nalder, instantly recognisable from his genuinely scarred face. Nalder appeared in two of my favourite episodes of Boris Karloff's Thriller (1961), namely The Return of Andrew Bentley and The Terror in Teakwood. He was also in Michael Armstrong's infamous Mark of the Devil (1970) alongside Udo Kier and Herbert Lom, and it's rarely seen sequel. Another face worth watching out for is the 50 foot woman herself, Yvette Vickers, whose tiny part is a prospective dancer.
It's a shame these films don't get a proper release as I imagine seeing this in a properly lit print would be wonderful. Some scenes are so dark you can only see the teeth of the actors. Not at all flattering when one of them, James McEachin, is coloured! A very above average TV film. 7 out of 10.