Imagine yourself with the power to kill people, simply by using a voodoo map. That’s right, not a doll, a map. Robert Kraft (“Have Gun – Will Travel” actor Richard Boone) takes over as caretaker for Immortal Hills cemetery. Before he knows it, Kraft has been exposed to powers beyond his imagination. A simple push of a pin into the map, and it’s Boom – key the dirge. People start dying and the morbid Kraft becomes fascinated with the map to the point of mania.
While Robert has his suspicions of the mysterious map, his counterpart in the office, George, routinely jokes about his suspicions. Instead, George makes jokes about getting rid of the competition. As the pressure builds on him from his counterparts, Kraft moves from using the map for fascination…to revenge.
Once he comes to terms with the depth of his power, Kraft starts to unravel. As others learn of his power, they begin to steer Kraft for their own means. Kraft begins to toy with life and death at the whim of every other character in the film, playing God with reckless abandon. In the end, the film’s horrific lead-in points to a completely different ending than most viewers will suspect.
The film uses lighting and close-in shots to build tension and give Boone’s manic panic some legs. The score uses sweeping movements to accent the key points in the plot, and ramp up the drama. A backlit view of the map is used repeatedly to punctuate Kraft’s growing tension.
Theodore Bikel (The African Queen, Moulin Rouge) plays the Scottish undertaker with a heavy accent and jovial demeanor. His performance is pretty stereotypical, but his acting is decent. Simpsons fans will have a hard time refraining from Groundskeeper Willie jokes. Herbert Anderson plays the local scoop pretty well; another stereotype but a well-acted one.
The DVD includes only the movie. The audio is in Dolby 5.1 with French subtitles that apparently can’t be turned off. The film has a running time of 80 minutes. Though Boone and Director Albert Band are deceased, a commentary track with Bikel and Band’s son, Charles, who founded Empire Pictures in the 1980’s, would be great. Empire released such films as Ghoulies and Breeders, and a comparison of the father and son’s works would be great commentary.