A former race-car driver-turned-writer decides to expose a ruthless, womanizing Grand Prix race driver in a book. However, his scheme explodes when his life is saved by this man, who is actually sensitive and misunderstood.
Emily Gault arrives at the Carrell mansion determined to rekindle an old relationship with Guy Carrell, despite the disapproval of his sister, Kate. Guy overcomes his all-consuming fear of being buried alive long enough to marry Emily but soon becomes obsessed again, building a crypt designed to guarantee that he will not fall prey to his most dreaded nightmare. Trying to prove that he has been cured of his phobia, he opens his father's tomb and is shocked into a catatonic state. His worst fears are realized as he is lowered into a grave and covered over, apparently never to learn that the treachery of someone very dear to him was directly responsible for his predicament.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Roger Corman started this film outside of American International Pictures. Since Vincent Price had been signed to an exclusive contract with AIP, Corman chose Ray Milland for the lead role. American International would acquire the production just as principal photography began. See more »
When about to show his guests the cup of poison, Guy refers to this as the coup de grace, but mispronounces it as "coup de gras" (as in "foie gras" or "Mardi Gras"). It is very unlikely that a well educated English grandee such as Guy would make such a mistake. See more »
Can you possibly conceive it. The unendurable oppression of the lungs, the stifling fumes of the earth, the rigid embrace of the coffin, the blackness of absolute night and the silence, like an overwhelming sea.
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The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to remove shots of maggots being poured from a cup and to edit scenes of Emily's body being covered with earth. The Optimum DVD is the uncut print. See more »
Solid, well crafted entry in producer / director Roger Corman's cycle of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that's an effective exercise in psychological horror as well as more traditional kinds of horror (such as we see in the nightmare sequence, for example). It shows just how badly one's life can be affected by an unhealthy obsession.
Corman initially tried to get Vincent Price for the lead, needing to switch to Ray Milland instead. While the casting of Milland may have seemed odd at the time, the esteemed, Oscar winning actor would go on to make appearances in other genre and schlock movies in the future. Milland offers a mostly understated performance as the tormented Guy Carrell, medical student and painter who can't get his supposed legacy and phobia of being entombed alive out of his mind. Meanwhile, good friend Miles (Richard Ney), new wife Emily (beautiful genre vixen Hazel Court), and sister Kate (Heather Angel) grow increasingly concerned over his behaviour.
Working with his consistently reliable production design / cinematography team of Daniel Haller and Floyd Crosby, Corman is able to create very effective atmosphere for the production, and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio allows him to pack the frame with detail, and he also continues the practise of creating depth to the images. The music by the great Ronald Stein would be enjoyable enough on its own, but it's supplemented by the repeated refrain of the "Molly Malone" melody, whether it's whistled or played on the piano.
Milland does some delicious work here, particularly in the sequence where Guy is showing Emily and Miles all the safeguards he's put in place in case of his being "buried alive". The excellent cast also includes Alan Napier as Emily's doctor father (who utters one of the best lines, "I never enjoy myself, I merely experience greater and lesser amounts of tedium."), and John Dierkes & Corman regular Dick Miller as the unsavoury grave diggers.
The script by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell has a very literate quality, and Milland gives his dialogue all of the gravitas that he can muster.
While this wouldn't rank among the best of Corman's Poe series (that honour would have to go to "House of Usher" and "The Masque of the Red Death"), it's still very respectable and fun viewing for classic horror fans.
Seven out of 10.
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