“Life is her death and death is her life.”
Quintus Ratcliff is a psychic researcher. He brings a prostitute named Diana to the office of Professor Ulbrecht Olinger. Quintus hypnotizes her and sends her into a past life. He sends her to the Middle Ages where she shares the body of her past self, Helene. Helene has been sentenced to die at dawn. She has been accused of being a witch. Diana's voice comes to her and tells her how to escape prison.
Pendragon is in love with Helene and wants her to live. Livia is the real witch for whose crimes Helene has been blamed. Livia is in love with Pendragon and wants Helene to die.
Quintus is very interested in this development between Diana and Helene. He believes that by helping Helene escape and avoid being killed Diana has changed her own destiny in the future. By using a psychic link between Diana and Helene, Quintus physically goes back in time to convince Helene to avoid her death. That way he can witness the results of history changing.
“The Undead” was released in 1957. It was produced and directed by Roger Corman. It is one of Roger’s lesser known movies and there is no surprise why. The movie has an interesting amalgamation of stars; Pamela Duncan, Richard Garland, Allison Hayes, Val Dufour, Dorothy Newmann, Billy Barty, Bruno VeSota, Dick Miller, and Richard Devon.
It has been listed as classics/fantasy/horror/horror comedy/drama/mystery& suspense/science fiction/comedy. What it is; is a really strange movie. Those that have seen it have complained about it being a mangled mash of plots with Knights and gravediggers and imps and the devil and a bunch of other characters. I didn’t see it that way. To me it’s a fairy tale with a moral. A bizarre fairy tale, but still a fairy tale. Diana goes back in time to a past life. She is now Helene and she becomes aware that if she lives then all the future lives she would have lived will never be. If she dies then all her future lives will live. She has a choice. Everyone else is either trying to make her live or have her die and each of the other characters has a selfish reason for whatever they want.
“The Undead” is not gory or gross. It’s definitely not horror or science fiction. It’s a bedtime story. Silly and not real interesting unless you’re a hard core fan. All good reasons why it’s not on everybody’s must have list. Even the title is a misnomer. The main character is not dead. She’s been regressed to a past life. My favorite moments are the ones where the gravedigger is making up songs. They’re a little amusing. Other than that it’s no less weird than a Grimm’s Fairytale. It’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” Corman style. Only not as good.
I’m not sure how regressing to past lives affects the time space continuum or temporal paradox. I don’t think those really apply. As far as Helene’s choice on whether or not to sacrifice herself for her future lives, I’m not sure that’s true either. Perhaps she does have future selves, but eventually she will die anyway any future lives could still happen. Since reincarnation is not exactly a science there is no way to determine when each future life will start so she could be sacrificing herself for a future life they will not happen right away. Far too much analyzing for a silly little movie. If you like your horror, fairy tale style then this a good place to start.