The Thing That Couldn't Die

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The Thing that Couldn't Die
Original film poster
Directed by Will Cowan
Produced by Will Cowan
Written by David Duncan
Starring William Reynolds
Andra Martin
Jeffrey Stone
Carolyn Kearney
Peggy Converse
Robin Hughes
James K Anderson
Charles Horvath
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Edward Curtiss
Distributed by Universal-International
Release dates
Running time
69 min.
Country  United States

The Thing that Couldn't Die is a 1958 American black-and-white horror film from an original screenplay by David Duncan for Universal-International, produced and directed by Will Cowan.


A young woman named Jessica Burns (Carolyn Kearney), who claims to have psychic powers, lives on a remote ranch with her Aunt Flavia (Peggy Converse). She discovers an ancient box while water-witching and her Aunt takes it back to their house. Her boyfriend, Gordon (William Reynolds), goes for an archaeologist, arguing the box should be kept intact for appraisal and opening by an expert. However, the Aunt's greedy ranch foreman, anticipating treasure, secretly convinces the slow-witted handyman to break it open. Instead, the box contains the intact head of Gideon Drew (Robin Hughes), a man executed for sorcery 400 years earlier. The head awakens and telepathically takes over the mentally vulnerable handyman.

After murdering the foreman, the head has the handyman conceal it while arranging to have a coffin retrieved containing Gideon's body. After the handyman helps the head take control of a young woman staying at the ranch, it drives him to approach police in a threatening manner holding the knife that killed the foreman. The police had arrived to investigate the theft of the box's remains and the blood left behind from the killing of the foreman. Failing to stop, the handyman died in a hail of police bullets.

Once his head and body are joined, Gideon will be fully able to exercise his powers over all comers. The young woman is aware of the evil and is protected from the head's influence by an ancient cross she wears around her neck, but when her boyfriend removes it, to make a cast so its historical value could be appraised, the head takes control of her mind. So, ironically, though the guest under control of the head was unable to remove it, Jessica was put in harms way by her protector. Jessica then helps find the head's body, previously being against doing so since they only wished to make money out of it as well as fear that it was an evil business. The young woman joins head to body and Gideon arises from his coffin, but the boyfriend, aware of the error of his ways, catches the monster off guard with the cross. This forces Gideon back into the coffin and, when they drop the cross in with his body, they watch the total disintegration of his mortal remains.




The film was mocked in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and shown on an episode of Svengoolie.[1]


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