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Film: The Thing That Couldn't Die

The Thing That Couldn't Die is a 1958 B-Movie. The plot of this horror film largely centers upon a college-age girl named Jessica, along with her greedy aunt Flavia. Flavia runs a ranch that doubles as a bed and breakfast. Accordingly, there are several guests at the ranch.

Whilst digging a new irrigation line or well, aided by Jessica's dowsing ability, a fieldhand finds a chest. Due to the greed of the Obviously Evil fieldhand, the chest is opened...and it contains not gold, but the severed head of a Very Evil Englishman. It turns out the Not Quite Dead Englishman, Gideon Drew, was beheaded for witchcraft during the expedition of Sir Francis Drake—but as part of his punishment, he's still alive. Can the Very Evil Englishman retrieve his body and live fully again? Better yet, can he pull it off for longer than thirty seconds?

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Tropes:

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Aunt Flavia trusts her psychic niece to drowse for water, but when she starts screaming about evil then apparently she's just being silly.
  • Anticlimax
  • Black Magic: An early debate on whether Jessica's ability to find things is this. She insists it can only be done of her own free will and she can't accept payment.
  • Cassandra Truth/You Have to Believe Me: Jessica's increasingly hysterical warnings to leave the chest alone go unheeded.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Attempted with Jessica. The crew of MST3K remark she's become more like a racy nun than actually evil.
  • Dowsing Device: Jessica uses a forked stick while 'water-witching.'
  • Dumb Muscle: Mike the farmhand, who's quite proud of how strong his hands are, but probably can't use his fingers to count with.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Jessica changes from a white dress to a black one after falling victim to the head's Magical Eye.
  • Fanservice: Two women sleeping in the bed? Oh yeah.
  • Flashback: A lengthy one shows Gideon's judgment and execution.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Gideon, in life and unlife, has the power to turn anyone who looks into his eyes Brainwashed and Crazy unless they're wearing or wielding a holy symbol.
  • Large Ham: Gideon. Particularly impressive considering he spends most of the movie as a mute severed head.
  • Male Gaze: The last shot of the film is the pendant hanging in the deep v-neckline of Jessica's dress.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Gordon removes the cross from Jessica's neck...and ZIP! She's possessed!
  • Nonindicative Name: Once reunited with his body, Gideon dies just fine. Hell, he's even better at dying than your average villain.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: The title.
  • Obviously Evil: Boyd.
  • Psychic Powers: Jessica...and Flavia as it turns out.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Once his body is found, it gets up, stumbles about, and once the head is re-attached, Gideon appears fully restored.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: After Gideon's head and body are reunited, he "thirst[s] for human blood". He goes around the room, rejecting each person's blood in turn and giving an insulting reason why ("your blood has dried up, and yours has turned to water", etc).
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Faced with a servant of the Devil, whose sorcery is capable of bewitching even the strongest and most noble of souls and even managed to cheat death itself? Well, chuck a cross at him. It worked for Simon Belmont!
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted; one of the first things they do when Gideon is restored is shoot him. Unfortunately, he happens to be Immune to Bullets.
    • You do have to wonder why the original attempt at execution was so elaborate when all it takes to permanently kill him is a holy symbol from the same era. You'd think they would have done it by accident.
  • Revenant Zombie: Gideon fits this definition. Not particularly rotted, still intelligent, still has all his powers, etc.

The Monolith MonstersUniversal HorrorThe Leech Woman
Terror from the Year 5000Mystery Science Index 3000 This Island Earth
The Monolith MonstersFranchise/Universal HorrorThe Leech Woman
Terror from the Year 5000Films of the 1950sTouch of Evil
The Thing from Another WorldHorror FilmsThir13en Ghosts

alternative title(s): The Thing That Couldnt Die
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