Flavia McIntyre (Peggy Converse) owns and runs the McIntyre Ranch. She lives there with her niece Jessica Burns (Carolyn Kearney). To help with the ranch she has two ranch hands, Boyd (James Anderson) and Mike (Charles Horvath). Boyd is on the slimy side and Mike is strong and slow witted. With times a little tough she has had to take in guests to make ends meet. Currently in the guest houses are Linda Madison (Andra Martin), Hank Huston (Jeffrey Stone) and Gordon Hawthorne (William Reynolds). Gordon is an old family friend who hasn’t been around since Jessica was a kid. Now that she is all grown up Gordon’s interest is in being more than just a family friend.
Jessica is special. She has psychic powers that she uses to find things like water or items that have been lost. While dowsing to find water she finds a spot that she says is evil and should not be disturbed. Flavia believes that what she found is water so she has her ranch hands dig for it. What they find is an old chest with some strange old English wording on it. Everyone thinks it’s a treasure and that the box contains gold. Gordon says that the box itself could be worth a lot of money and to break it open could ruin its value. He says he knows and expert in these things and the box should only be opened by an expert so as not to ruin its value. Gordon heads to town to get him.
In the meantime Boyd talks Mike into forcing opening the box hoping to steal some of the gold. When Mike gets the box open he finds the head of a sixteenth century warlock that was sentenced to a living death. The warlock, Gideon Drew (Robin Hughes), was beheaded. His body was buried somewhere else and his head put in the box. After four hundred years the head is still alive. Gideon takes over the mind of Mike and has him do his bidding. Mike kills Boyd and walks away with the head dragging Boyd’s lifeless body behind him.
Gordon returns with Julian Ash (Forest Lewis), an expert and president of the Historical Society. They set about deciphering the script on the chest and learn that it contained the head of Gideon.
Using his warlock powers Gideon first mesmerizes Linda and then Jessica. His aim is to find his body. Once his head and body are together Gideon’s true power can be released.
“The Thing That Couldn’t Die” was released in 1958 and was directed by Will Cowan. It is one of Universal’s low budget horror films right down to the stock music used in several other Universal “B” movies.
The movie was better than I expected. It’s a little different from the standard Universal horror film but still a decent fifties offering. The ending was a little quicker than I would have liked. It would have been nice to see Robin Hughes given more screen time to overact and spout Shakespearian platitudes but alas it was not to be.
Dowsing is a technique for searching for water, minerals, or anything underground. The dowser uses a forked stick and by observing the motion of the stick can supposedly determine where the water or other unseen object is. In the standard method one fork is held in each hand with the palms upward. The bottom end of the "Y" is pointed skyward at an angle of about 45 degrees. The dowser then walks back and forth over the area to be tested. When he passes over a source of water, the end of the stick will rotate downward. Scientists dismiss dowsing as bunk. They say that the movement of the stick is due to ideomotor response, or a person’s unconscious movement of the stick. Since some water exists just about everywhere underground chances are a dowser will find something.