The One with the Water Witch

If The Thing That Couldn’t Die commits any filmmaking crime, it’s in not giving villain Gideon Drew (Robin Hughes) more screentime. Beheaded centuries prior, Drew’s head finally finds its body with two minutes left to go in the movie. Hughes’ Shakespearean-lite performance is outrageously fun, utterly hammy, and the only moment worth waking up for in the entire thing.

At a mere 69-minutes, The Thing That Couldn’t Die’s premise is higher concept than anything actually happening within. It’s kooky, God-fearing schlock that sees a Satan-worshipper’s head hypnotizing a gentle, middle American farm family, manipulating then into committing ‘50s-friendly versions of the seven deadly sins. Lust, greed, jealousy, murder; harrowing stuff, in circumstances other than this movie anyway.

In the thinnest way, The Thing That Couldn’t Die puts trust in faith

Carolyn Kearney plays the heroine, a psychic who can track/sense evil, but apparently not Gideon’s head as it’s carried around. She’s simple and innocent, like the entire family hanging around this farm, perfect foils for Gideon’s eternal evil. Said sinister actions lead to a few bodies strewn about, unexciting as those murders are, and then Gideon’s brief speech. His eventual goal seems to be to raise Satan, but he’s then shut down by a religiously ambiguous necklace charm. At least Dracula chose to charge itself with Christian iconography.

In the thinnest way, The Thing That Couldn’t Die puts trust in faith. Clearly, there’s more concern with the shock title, but at the start, few believe Kearney’s abilities. They doubt and dismiss. The longer things drag, the more characters must confront Satan’s reality, and the vessel he’s using to pick off victims. The hero defeats Gideon only because he removes any question, and strikes with the proper symbol.

No one else in this cast can step up. There’s a creeper cowboy played by James Anderson, a mentally stunted strongman (Charles Horvath), a money-hungry farmer (Peggy Converse), and two artistic beatniks (Jeffrey Stone, Andra Martin). The cast is entirely representative of what not to do in a movie like this, primarily because this dismally cheap production relies on countless archetypes for the small population. Horror this is not.


A pleasing effort from Scream/Shout Factory, debuting a new 2K scan, rendering organic detail in surprising consistency. The best comes from Gideon’s make-up, allowing for exceptional texture. Elsewhere, the quality continues, from exposing obvious studio sets to precise facial definition.

Well resolved grain hovers over a perfectly calibrated gray scale. The Thing That Couldn’t Die contains a number of shadowy silhouettes/shadows, showing off those black levels. Likewise, high contrast hits a controlled peak, never too far or clipping.

Other than a vertical scratch in the opening and final reels, there’s no real damage to note. Dirt stays away too, restoration work superb overall.


Roughened up dialog reveals the age, if to limited detriment. Each line is audible, just carrying a scratchy, vintage, and analog quality.

Since the score is all stock, any faults certainly lie with the original recordings. Clips all sound fine though. DTS-HD is more than adequate.


A trailer, and Tom Weaver’s commentary where he’s joined briefly by Courtney Joyner.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Thing That Couldn't Die
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Sluggish and utter nonsense, The Thing That Couldn’t Die doesn’t entertain even with its ludicrous, delicious premise.

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