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The Dead Don't Die is a 1975 American made-for-television neo-noir horror thriller film set in the 1930s, directed by Curtis Harrington from a teleplay by Robert Bloch, based upon his own story of the same title that first appeared in Fantastic Adventures, July 1951. The film originally premiered on NBC on January 14, 1975. The film uses the traditional Haitian concept of zombies, as resurrected slaves of the living.[1][2]

The Dead Don't Die
Written byRobert Bloch
Directed byCurtis Harrington
StarringGeorge Hamilton
Linda Cristal
Joan Blondell
Ralph Meeker
James McEachin
Reggie Nalder
Ray Milland
Music byRobert Prince
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Douglas S. Cramer
W.L. Baumes
Producer(s)Henry Colman
CinematographyJames Crabe
Editor(s)Ronald J. Fagan
Running time74 minutes
Production company(s)Douglas S. Cramer Company
Original networkNBC
Original releaseJanuary 14, 1975 (1975-01-14)



In 1934, Don Drake returns to Chicago after a long sea voyage and discovers that his brother has been convicted of murdering his wife. Drake is unable to save him from the electric chair, but he is convinced of his brother’s innocence and is determined to clear his name. His investigation leads him to the Loveland Ballroom, the scene of the murder, where his brother was involved in a dance marathon run by Jim Moss.

Drake begins seeing his dead brother walking the foggy streets. Drake kills a man named Perdido, who later climbs out of a coffin and attacks him. Police Lieutenant Reardon doesn’t believe Drake’s story, and Reardon later finds Perdido is alive and well. As Drake presses his investigation, he learns of a mystery man named Varrick, whom no one has ever seen and who might be using Haitian voodoo to bring people back from the dead. Varrick turns out to be Jim Moss, played by Ray Milland, the voodoo master of the zombified slaves. Corner by Varrick and his resurrected brother, Drake shows the zombified brother the body of his wife, and reveals that Varrick had her killed by Frank Speck.


Bloch gives his opinion of the movie in his autobiography, Once Around the Bloch. "The Dead Don't Die. Maybe they don't, but the show did. Despite Curtis's casting of accomplished character actors, their supporting roles couldn't prop up the lead. And Ray Milland, who had given such a deftly paced performance in my script for Home Away from Home, merely plodded through his part here like a zombie without a deadline." [3] ("Home Away from Home" was a short story by Bloch which he had adapted for Episode 1, Season 9 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents).

Michael Weldon writes of the film that it is: "A tribute to the poverty-row horrors of the '30s that tries hard to be as ridiculous as the originals. A group of West Indians in Chicago plots to rule the world with zombies. Involves hammy acting from George Hamilton as hero Don Drake." [4].

Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever comments that an "unbelievable plot set in the 1930s has Hamilton as a detective trying to prove his brother was wrongly executed for murder. He ultimatley clashes with the madman who wants to rule the world with an army of zombies. Perhaps if they had cast hamilton as Master of the Zombies." Craddock, Jim (ed) [5] This guide awards the film only one 'bone' out of four, which equates to "poor use of camera, film, sets, script, actors and studio vehicles."

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  1. ^ John Kenneth Muir Horror Films of the 1970s -- 2011 Page 318 0786491566 "So historically, The Dead Don't Die bucks a worldwide trend in zombie movies, and deserves some note for that. It was not until The Serpent and the Rainbow in 1987, that the original concept of zombies (as undead slaves of the living) was ..."
  2. ^ Peter Dendle - 2009 The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia Page 50 0786455209 - The horror of The Dead Don't Die doesn't come from its diluted zombies, but from human cruelty that is pointedly graphic for a TV movie. Some highlights include a drawn-out depiction of a man going to the electric chair, including the
  3. ^ Robert Bloch, Once Around the Bloch: An Unauthorised Autobiography NY: Tor Books, 1993, 363-64.
  4. ^ The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. London: Plexus, 1983, p. 165
  5. ^ Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever: The Complete Guide to Movies on Videocassette and DVD. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson/Gale, 2007, p. 233

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