Premature Burial (1962) Poster

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Milland an excellent alternative to Price
funkyfry24 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Milland plays an English 19th-century nobleman convinced that hereditary catalepsy will cause him to be buried alive. To escape his conuming fear of this fate, he builds a tomb equipped with numerous safety-valve escape mechanisms -- even a poison to take should all else fail. When his wife (Court) forces him to destroy it, a chain of events occurs with his burial and subsequent rescue via graverobbers (who he promptly slays). Good moments of suspense, good photography by pro Crosby, the usual poor direction of actors not being an obstacle to the film's quality. Surprise ending is a plus.

I thought Milland made a good choice given the unavailability of Price (his contract with AIP was binding only to the extent that he not make any Edgar Allen Poe movies with anyone except AIP, from what I've heard). He is an actor of a type not seen often these days -- he strongly projects his emotions, causing them to be felt by the audience, instead of simply seen. Vincent Price was also an actor of this type; their work in these "cheapie" horror films should not go unnoticed. It brings a power to these films that makes them memorable.
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PREMATURE BURIAL (Roger Corman, 1962) **1/2
Bunuel197614 June 2004
I think this is a very underrated little horror film even among Roger Corman's own directorial output. This stems, perhaps, from the fact that Ray Milland steps in for Vincent Price here, making it the odd one out among the series of Corman's Poe adaptations.

Ray Milland must have seemed a rather offbeat choice at the time given his reputation of being one of Hollywood's most charming and debonair leading man. In hindsight, however, he gives the role of the paranoid and cataleptic Guy Correll a wounded vulnerability which Vincent Price would have had trouble in bringing out (without resorting to camp). This is evident when one compares two similar roles played by Price in PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), in which he overdid the fainting bit, and his later, admirably subdued performance in THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964). To his credit, Milland - who was at his best in such light but sophisticated comedies as EASY LIVING (1939), ARISE, MY LOVE (1940), THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942) and KITTY (1945) - did not consider such roles as being beneath him and consequently gave them his all. As a matter of fact, he considered his subsequent role for Corman, that of Dr. James Xavier in X – THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES (1963), to be his second best after his Oscar-winning turn for Billy Wilder in THE LOST WEEKEND (1945)! I sure would like to get a chance to see Ray Milland in his three other notable 'horror' films: THE UNINVITED (1944), ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949) and (directing himself) PANIC IN YEAR ZERO (1962).

As for the film itself, I admit that having just watched PIT AND THE PENDULUM, PREMATURE BURIAL and (fairly recently) HOUSE OF USHER (1960) in quick succession, the repetition in the story-lines (catalepsy and premature entombment), not to mention in the art direction (recycled sets), does tend to get rather tiresome. Nevertheless, PREMATURE BURIAL, while perhaps not among Corman's best work, is engaging enough to repay repeated viewings (this has been my third time round).
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Under Appreciated Poe Adaptation!
bsmith555210 August 2003
Most of the reviews and comments on "The Premature Burial" tend to dismiss this film as second rate. I don't agree. In fact I think it is as good or better than many of the other Roger Corman produced/directed Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.

The basis of the story is man's fear of death and more specifically of somehow being buried alive. Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) is one such person. He believes that his father was a victim of a premature burial and as such thinks that he will suffer the same fate. He goes so far as to construct a crypt that has many fail safe escape devices in case that he does suffer the same fate as his father.

Carrell marries the beautiful Emily Gault (Hazel Court) and with her help, tries to overcome his fears. Also involved in the mystery is Carrell's sinister sister Kate (Heather Angel), family friend Dr. Miles Archer (Richard Ney) and Emily's father Dr. Gault (Alan Napier). Guy begins to hear eerie sounds and is seemingly tormented by two grave diggers (John Dierkes, Dick Miller) that he encountered earlier. Are there plans afoot to drive poor Guy mad? Who in his household could be behind such a plan? Does he ultimately suffer the fate that he fears most?

Ray Milland was chosen to play the lead because Roger Corman was in a dispute with American International Pictures (AIP) at the time and decided to make the movie with another studio. Vincent Price who starred in most of Corman's Poe adaptations was under contract to AIP and therefore, could not play the lead. Ultimately the dispute was resolved and the picture was eventually released under the AIP banner.

Milland is surprisingly excellent in the lead. He conveys the building paranoia of Guy Carrell very convincingly. The lovely Hazel Court was a veteran of many films in her native England and nicely complements Milland and Heather Angel provides an air of mystery as Guy's sister/

Some useless trivia:

1. Ray Milland and Heather Angel had starred together some 25 years earlier in "Bulldog Drummond Escapes" (1937).

2. Miles Archer was the name of Sam Spade's partner who was murdered at the beginning of "The Maltese Falcon" (1941).

3. Alan Napier achieved greater fame as Alfred the butler in the "Batman" TV series of the 60s.
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Not the best, but still good Corman-Poe cycle entry.
capkronos3 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Generally considered one of the least successful of Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations; which has a lot to do with the absence of star Vincent Price (this is the only film of the eight he didn't star in). Because the film started as an independent production and Price was under contract with AIP at the time, he was not able to do the film. Price's inimitable presence would have indeed turned this into an entirely different film (and probably would have effectively diffused some of the more horrific elements of the story), but I have no problem watching Ray Milland in the lead role, either. I also have no problem with the series taking a more serious turn. PREMATURE BURIAL is certainly one of the most grim, moody, foggy and removed of the entire series, but that doesn't mean it is a bad horror film by any stretch. It's actually pretty good.

Mr. Milland plays a cranky medical student who is obsessed with the idea that he will one day be buried alive; a fate that also befell his father. He has even devised his own special tomb, complete with trap doors, alarms and escape hatches in case his fears do indeed become a reality (one of the more clever touches in the Charles Beaumont/Ray Russell script). Naturally, all doesn't work as planned and before the movie is over Milland gets buried alive, goes mad and busts out of his tomb to indulge in a murderous rampage. Hazel Court, who usually passed up the lead virtuous good girl role for characters like this, actually seems to be playing a supportive wife... until the final plot surprise is revealed. The fine supporting cast also Richard Ney as a doctor who may or may not be up to something bad, Heather Angel as Milland's sister, John Dierkes, Alan Napier, Dick Miller (who is credited as "Richard Miller" and is hard to recognize in a small role as a grave-robber who become a victim) and Brendan Dillon.

MGM's Midnight Movies DVD collection doubles this movie with the timeless MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964), which is a must for horror film collectors. It has two great interviews with a grinning Roger Corman about the productions of both films, plus trailers.
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Midnight in the garden of good and evil
ian-43312 October 2005
Intensely gloomy it may be, but an impressive example how a determined cinematic stylist can make a real virtue of a low budget. This was the third of director Roger Corman's AIP chillers based on Poe stories, and the only one not to star Vincent Price. Here, Ray Milland is the protagonist whose family history of catalepsy makes him fear burial alive.

Entirely shot on the sound stage, Corman and his regular art director Danial Haller have created a wonderfully expressionist garden of gnarled trees and shrubs wreathed with dry ice. Even the interior of Milland's mansion seems like a grave, notably in the scene where Hazel Court and Richard Bull take tea in a drawing room with wood-panelled walls, dark green wallpaper, with the dead tree pressing oppressively against the windows.

A number of other directorial touches make even this relatively minor Corman effort a winner. Court's shadow passing phantom-like over the sleeping Milland. The sudden shock moments when the sinister gravediggers Sweeny and Moe appear. And the blue-suffused dream-sequence in which Milland hallucinates the fate he fears most is quite masterfully shot, cut and scored (Ronald Stein).

A dark, dank little gem.
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I'm going to be cremated!
bwaynef13 December 2003
With Vincent Price busy elsewhere, Roger Corman shoveled the dirt on Ray Milland for this adaptation of Poe's "The Premature Burial." A bit too mature for the role, Milland nonetheless gives a good account of himself as an artist convinced that he'll meet the same fate as many of his ancestors by being buried alive. This movie offers some fairly useful tips for those who have a similar fear, but after watching it you might agree with me that cremation is the way to go.

Corman keeps things nice and creepy throughout, and your skin is sure to crawl at the appropriate moments. This is no match for the director's magnificent "Pit and the Pendulum," but it's an above-average horror flick recommended for everyone but the ghouls employed in the funeral industry.
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A very interesting movie.
montresor12 July 2001
This is the only film in Corman's Poe cycle without Vincent Price. He chose instead Ray Milland as the man haunted by fear of being buried alive. In fact Milland portrays the protagonist more "seriously" than Price would have, or more "realisticaly". This is a good film for those who like the subject. Some critics have talked about films filled with fascination with death, quoting some times "Obsession" by Brian de Palma, for example. But if there is a "necrophiliac" film ever, this is "Premature Burial". Loosely based in Edgar Allan Poe's unfilmable tale, it has a magnificent plot and many hints and blinks. It is a disturbing film, too. Its atmosphere is perfectly gloomy. Milland seems genuinely tormented by his fears, and he delivers some modified Poe lines with intensity. I think that this picture is in the better half of the Poe cycle, and has a particular quality of its own.
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Creepy Paranoid Tale of Obsession and Madness
claudio_carvalho5 October 2014
The wealthy cataleptic painter Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) believes that he overheard his father, who also had catalepsy, crying in the crypt of his family when he was a kid and is obsessed by the fear of being buried alive. He leaves his fiancée Emily Gault (Hazel Court) and lives alone with his sister Kate Carrell (Heather Angel) in the family manor. However Emily seeks him out and convinces Guy to marry her, despite the disapproval of Kate, promising that she would never bury him without the certainty of his death by her friend, Dr. Miles Archer (Richard Ney), and her father Dr. Gideon Gault (Alan Napier).

After the wedding, Guy does not travel in honeymoon to Venice, as he had promised to Emily, and builds a crypt with safety devices to avoid that he is trapped alive inside. However Emily and Miles convince him to demolish the building. Guy has nightmares and visions with the gravediggers and weird events happen in the mansion. He decides to prove that is cured of his fear and opens his father grave, but someone has moved his skeleton and Guy is diagnosed of heart attack. However he is catatonic indeed and is buried alive as he has always feared. Will be the end of Guy? Who might have caused the shock on Guy?

"Premature Burial" is a creepy tale of paranoid obsession and madness, with good scenarios and locations and good acting. Ray Milland is a great actor but does seem to be miscast for the role of Guy Carrell that should be of an insane man instead of so dramatic. The conclusion is disappointing with the overprotective Kate disclosing the mystery after killing her insane brother. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): Not Available on VHS / DVD / Blu-Ray
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Good horror with a great lead performance.
Hey_Sweden20 November 2011
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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Claustrophobic Gothic Horror Greatness from Corman (Sadly without Vincent Price)
Witchfinder-General-66628 January 2010
Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe cycle ranges among the most essential moments ever in Horror cinema, some of the adaptations such as "Pit And The Pendulum" (1961), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964) or (the actually Lovecraft-inspired) "The Haunted Palace" (1963) being among the greatest Gothic Horror films ever brought to screen. The brilliance of these films lies in the creepy Poe-themed stories, Corman's outstanding talent for eerie Gothic atmosphere, and, not least, the leading performances by Horror-deity Vincent Price.

"Premature Burial" of 1962 treats an eponymous subject that is as essentially 'Poe' as it gets - being buried alive, or more precisely, the terror of being buried alive.While I did have high expectations for this film, it had been lying on my DVD shelf for a long while before I finally saw it, the only reason for delaying the viewing being the lack of Vincent Price in this film. Ray Milland, who plays the lead here, was a fantastic actor, but simply not quite as fantastic as Vincent Price (who happens to be my all-time favorite actor). Price simply was one of the greatest actors who ever lived, and the Poe-adaptations are arguably the ultimate highlights of his career. The only flaw of this film, is therefore not really a flaw, but the greatness of Corman's other Poe-adaptations: The fact that the other films had Vincent Price, and this one doesn't. As great as Milland is - and he IS great - every fan of the other films will see that Price could have been greater in some scenes. Vincent Price had a unique quality of being likable sinister. Price played dozens of Horror villains and murderous madmen, yet one always somehow had to like them (the one notable exception being his entirely diabolical eponymous role in Michael Reeves' 1968 masterpiece "Witchfinder General"). Ray Milland is a great actor, but he doesn't share this unique talent for being macabre, creepy, even scary, and yet somehow likable at the same time. Actually, his character here is not villainous, and yet he is somewhat unlikable.

This being said, "Premature Burial" is still and wonderful Gothic Horror experience, which once again proves that Corman is a true master of creepy greatness and beautifully eerie atmosphere. Ray Milland plays Guy Carrell, a man living in paralyzing fear of being interred alive. The beautiful Emily (Hazel Court) nonetheless falls for him and becomes his wife. Once they are married, however, his obsessions become worse and worse... The setting in an eerie mansion near a foggy cemetery is perfect for a Gothic Horror film like this one, and, apart from the usual atmosphere donors such as foggy grounds, Corman includes many morbid set-pieces, such as a demented live-in mausoleum. The fact that Milland's leading character is a painter of very morbid pictures also helps the film's creepiness. The stunning Hazel Court is, as always, absolutely wonderful in the female lead.

Overall, "Premature Burial" isn't quite as essential as films like "House of Usher" (1960), "Pit and the Pendulum" (1961), "The Haunted Palace" (1963) or "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964), but it is still a fantastic Gothic Horror that no genre-lover can afford to miss. The true genius of this film manifests in that it creates a uniquely claustrophobic atmosphere - which actually makes the viewer afraid of being buried prematurely!
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And if Death were not the end....
dbdumonteil8 February 2007
This is an excellent horror movie.To be buried alive is a fear we all share ,and although it's not really new (outside Poe's obsession there's a sequence in Dreyer's "Vampyr") ,it's terribly effective.

Ray Milland portrays a man whose obsession knows no bound.His mausoleum which he shows to a distraught wife and to his good sensible friend and the nightmare are worth the price of admission.The foggy ghastly atmosphere -pure English sixties studios - adds to the almost unbearable suspense.The screenplay,which,like all the other Corman's adaptations ,is rather far from Poe's short novel,is full of good ideas (the undertakers whistling a gentle tune when they open a grave,the cat,the unexpected final twist which is quite successful).

"Premature Burial" is to be recommended to horror movies buffs.

The fear of being buried alive never came to an end ;two examples "Oxygen" featuring Adrian Brody and "Spoorlos" (aka "L'Homme Qui Voulait Savoir")
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Terrific Gothic horror! Actually phobia-evoking!!
Coventry26 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Being a huge admirer of the legendary Vincent Price, I (and I'm sure many Price fans with me) constantly had to suppress prejudices on Ray Milland's acting performance. Not that he's a bad actor or anything; it's just that Vincent portrayed the protagonist in the other 6 entries of Corman's Poe cycle and you can't help wondering that he would play certain sequences a lot better and more "Poe-like". That being said, "The Premature Burial" still definitely is a marvelous and warmly recommended horror film with a haunting Gothic atmosphere and a handful of ultra-macabre sequences. The screenplay suffers a little from its own ingenious and titular gimmick, though… The story handles about a man living with the incontrollable fear of being buried alive, so you can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that this will happen as a matter-of-course, no matter how waterproof his precautions are. Luckily enough, Roger Corman has directors-talent in abundance so he easily sails around the predictability of the story by focusing on the uncanny set pieces and morbid atmosphere. Overwhelming the viewer with typically Gothic aspects (thunderstorms, fog-enshrouded cemeteries, eerie vaults…) Corman actually camouflages that several of the sub-plots are poorly (or even not at all) elaborated. Like, for example, the grave-robbing business or the whole murder-conspiracy near the end. Notably sardonic (and downright brilliant) is the sequence in which Milland shows his wife and best friend around the tomb he designed himself, complete with numerous escape-routes in case his worst nightmare should come true. Great stuff!
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Burying paranoia
bygard2 May 2007
Of all the great Roger Corman's movies based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories this one has maybe left in the shadow of those starring Vincent Price. In a way this one stays a little closer to the spirit of Poe, thanks to Ray Milland's well crafted and more serious acting style. He isn't as grand and hammy as Price and adds a bit more heavier drama in his portrayal of a perfect gentleman and a manically paranoid mind. And if you want to see Milland go for one better in a Corman film, see 'X -The Man with the X-Ray Eyes'.

Once again Corman has succeeded to make his film seem fancier and more expensive than it really was. I've always admired the production values in these films. In spite of repeating many of the same themes and tricks over again they always deliver fun and good value. The tight and atmospheric sets nicely express and support the sense of paranoia, madness and give a feeling of altered state of consciousness. Although, a kind of a comic book version of Poe it is, it does give me the same joy and occasional light creeps than the original stories. The theme of getting buried alive and the following madness is of course repeated many times during these films and stories. But as it is here the actual main theme and motive for the character, the treatment it gets is to my mind the most dramatic and probably the best.
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Premature Burial
Scarecrow-889 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
An aristocratic painter, Guy Carrell(Ray Milland), has this obsessive fear of being buried alive(particularly, his seeing a victim of such a case, at the opening of the film, not helping matters), and those around his inner circle try to assist him in penetrating that which mentally weakens him. Emily Gault(Hazel Court)arrives on coach to coerce Guy into marriage claiming she loved him ever so dearly. But, we can see plainly that she has designs on medical student, the kindly Miles Archer(Richard Ney), who clearly wishes to help Guy conquer his inner demons that plague his life, controlling nearly every move. The film's two best sequences, in my opinion, occur inside a specially made crypt, designed by Guy carrying various methods of escape if he were to suffer an attack of catalepsy the way his father(supposedly)did..Guy insists he overheard his father's cries from the tomb, but sister Kate(Heather Angel)says that is false, merely a creation from a tormented mind. We see a nightmarish sequence where all his methods of escape(Corman's way of enacting this with color tinting the screen, I thought was simply marvelous)are damaged by rot and decay. Catalepsy is the method of near-death which freezes your body, even causing your heart to temporarily cease, while the brain(..and eyes)still functions. When Miles finally gets Guy to unlock his father's vault, showing him that the result of his death wasn't catalepsy, a sudden shock( an earlier sequence, someone cloaked by dark off-camera snatches the key to the vault, offering the possibility of underhanded tactics)sends Guy into a cataleptic state showing us that his fears were indeed realized. Will Guy be buried alive as he so feared?

I think PREMATURE BURIAL is an exercise in Gothic style, expertly executed by a master horror director. What it lacks in surprises(I felt Hazel Court was the wrong choice to play the wife..she's too much the vixen to ever pass as an object of sympathy, and if the viewer just pays attention to her mannerisms, the way the plot is directed to it's conclusion leaves little shock value)Corman makes up for in sheer atmosphere. It also helps that Corman has an actor of the caliber of Milland as your lead, displaying intense strain and absolute horror without uttering a word. I got a special thrill during Guy's rage thanks to Milland's portrayal. I know many feel Price is the one most suitable for this role, but I found no problems with Milland..right the opposite, actually.
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Another very good Corman Poe tale....that had practically nothing to do with Poe!
MartinHafer23 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Like all of Roger Corman's movies based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, this one only has a superficial similarity to the Poe tale. In many cases, Corman took only the title from Poe and the story was completely new!

In this movie, Ray Milland plays a bit of a flake. When the movie begins, the grave of his father is opened--to reveal that the man had not been dead but in some sort of catatonic stupor and had been buried alive. Naturally this would mess with Milland's mind (he shows many, many signs of post-traumatic stress disorder), but frankly he seems quite a few fries short of a Happy Meal, so to speak. To put it bluntly, he's rather obsessed with his own death--so obsessed that his new bride thinks he's crazy--and, based on his actions, this isn't too far-fetched! He spends so much of his time worrying about death and his own potential premature burial that he even designs the coolest burial vault in history. Watching him proudly show off its many, many innovations to allow for easy escape is pretty cool, but as for me, give me the old burning Viking long ship! As far as the plot goes, you eventually see that all is NOT as it seems. There are lots of interesting twists and in the end, there is a wild and crazy finale. I could say more, but don't want to spoil the suspense. However, I would say that the ending, though perhaps filled with too much exposition, was quite entertaining.

Overall, a very good low-budget horror thriller. It has the usual excellent Corman direction and Milland is very good taking on a role that usually would have gone to Vincent Price. The only negative, and it's tiny, is the part played by Milland's on-screen wife--she does overact a bit here and there--but not so much the film is seriously impacted.

By the way, this is one of two Milland/Corman films that have been packaged together on one DVD--the other being "X, the Man With X-ray Eyes". Both are very enjoyable and seem like a pretty good deal if you're in the market for horror/sci-fi stories.
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Ray Milland in morbid fear of getting buried alive gets buried alive
clanciai6 July 2018
This is not on par with "The House of Usher" with Vincent Price two years earlier but in the same style and category. The main character is as sickly and haunted as Vincent Price but tougher and more self-determined, as he actually tries to deal with his own fate but fails in a satisfactory revenge. This is as far from Edgar Allan Poe as the Usher film, but the atmosphere, mood and creepy settings are the more Poean for their very illustrative sustaining character. Ray Milland is or was a great actor, and although not as creepy as Vincent Price could be when he mobilized his resources and forces to the full, he is more intelligent and does not fumble or commit mistakes in unnecessary exaggerations. Ray Milland is thinking while he is lying dead and actually succeeds in understanding what is going on, although the ladies outwit him.

It's more an entertaining film than a horror movie, and although there are some startling effects, the main satisfaction of the film is that of an entertainment, since it's impossible to take any of the absurd goings-on for serious. .
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She wheels her wheel barrow, through streets broad and narrow...
hitchcockthelegend9 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The third in Roger Corman's cycle of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations sees Charles Beaumont & Ray Russell on script duties and Ray Milland star. The story follows Milland's cataleptic Guy Carrell, whose fear of being buried alive like his father drives him to build a tomb that should ensure against such a disaster occurring...

Pulpy, Gothic and at times silly, The Premature Burial is still very much a nice slice of Corman pie. Some critics have bemoaned the lack of AIP mainstay Vincent Price for this one, yet that's unfair on Milland who does some neat work as he blends lunacy with sympathy to great effect. Though the plotting lacks any imagination, since it's obvious from the get go that poor Guy is going to find his nightmare become a reality, this frees up Corman to conjure up as much atmosphere as possible. Backed up by Floyd Crosby's sumptuous Eastman colour photography (in Panavision too), Corman is able to craft some genuinely macabre moments. The appearance of genre babe Hazel Court is a pleasing bonus and the set design coming from old sharp eye himself, Daniel Haller, rounds the film out as a pretty effective piece.

Nice creepy use of Molly Malone too! 6.5/10
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Good...but it feels like Corman's coasting
El_Rey_De_Movies7 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"The Premature Burial" is not a bad movie. It's got a very sumptuous look, good performances from Ray Milland and Hazel Court, solid cinematography by Floyd Crosby, and strong, atmospheric direction by Roger Corman. But it still may not satisfy and I think I know why. It's because, by the time this movie came out, Corman's Poe adaptations had fallen into a predictable rut. The combination of morbid insanity, betrayal, and psychological trauma that was innovative and daring in "House of Usher" and "Pit and the Pendulum" had gotten clichéd. Ray Milland's Guy Carrell is a very close twin to Vincent Price's Don Nicholas Medina - even their childhood trauma is the same. No matter how much atmosphere, fog, set direction, musical stings and acting juice that Corman injects into this movie, it has a hard time overcoming that almost-fatal flaw. Having said that, I still like this movie. Some have said that Ray Milland is miscast - he is, if you think of his age, but if you insist on viewing it in those terms, so would Vincent Price have been. He does bring great acting talent to the table, and carries the role well. Hazel Court, as his paramour, never looked lovelier or behaved more despicably. The dream sequence is actually quite unsettling and disturbing, with the swirling mist and gel lighting. It's still nice to see such a pristine presentation of this movie. The DVD is just gorgeous, with absolutely no wear visible. There's no commentary from Corman (shame, MGM!) - instead, all we get is a very short interview with him. Not the best of the Poe movies, but still a good example of old school, American-made Gothic horror.
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excellent old times' horror
r-c-s6 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While the book has little to do with it, this movie shows even low budget flicks can have class. Milland delivers a solid performance as a XIX century physician whose mind is shattered after he witnesses the exhumation of an untimely buried man, which brings back unsuppressed memories of the same having -presumably- happened earlier to his own father.

a lovely, -supposedly- super doting, caring & devoted woman enters the scene as his fiancée, whom he wanted to go away in fear of his own insanity. She convinces him she means it, and the 2 get married. An obtrusive and sinister looking sister is also there.

Accident after accident, the doctor is plunging more & more into his insanity delving with the fear of being buried untimely. Is someone scheming against him? Who? Why? Is he really insane? are those "accidents" really out of his insanity or do they belong to a plot?

the suspense is well maintained and the movie structure is solid overall. Definitely an unpretentious movie with class.

the Gothic and dark sets are excellent, although the fog item is overly abused, probably in an attempt to mask the budget shortage.
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"I was going to bury him...alive."
Backlash00719 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers

Premature Burial is trademark Roger Corman. With its lavish sets and impenetrable fog, it's unmistakably a Corman production. The only missing ingredient is Vincent Price. He is replaced by leading man Ray Milland due to a contractual obligation. Milland is a very capable actor, but I still found myself waiting for Price to make an entrance. Written by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell from a Poe story, this movie plays on one thing: fear, more specifically the fear of being buried alive. "Can you possibly conceive it? The unendurable oppression of the lungs, the stifling fumes of the damp earth, the ridged embrace of the coffin, the blackness of absolute night, and the an overwhelming sea." Not a pretty picture, is it? This is a great companion piece to The Pit and the Pendulum because they are similarly themed pictures and both deal with fear, madness, and betrayal. Unfortunately, if you've seen The Pit and the Pendulum, you know exactly what to expect with this film. Premature Burial is not the best of the Corman/Poe flicks, but is worth looking at.
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Very under-appreciated
TheLittleSongbird9 November 2012
Premature Burial is not Roger Corman's best filmed Poe adaptation, Masque of the Red Death is my favourite, but I did prefer it over the interesting but uneven Tales of Terror. It could have been a little longer, and not all of it is what you call surprising. However, it is well worth a look. It is well shot and I loved the Gothic atmosphere of the sets. The music really haunts your mind, at its best in Milland's hallucination dream sequence. The script is very literate and maintains interest, with Alan Napier getting the best lines, Milland showing his wife and friend around his tomb and the story has some fine moments especially with the dream sequence, Court's shadow and with the grave-diggers helped by a genuinely creepy atmosphere that Corman evokes wonderfully. Corman does direct assuredly. I was impressed by the performances also. Ray Milland is going to have inevitable comparisons to Vincent Price, who for me gave pitch-perfect performances in the rest of Corman's Poe adaptations(all but this one), but he deserves to be judged on his own merits, and I think he does give an understated and vulnerable performance that proved most effective. Hazel Court is also terrific, and Alan Napier relishes some of the best lines of the film. The rest of the cast do solidly in their roles also. In conclusion, a very under-appreciated Corman film that shouldn't be dismissed because it doesn't have Price in it. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Classic Horror
seventhgun8 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Being one of many Edgar Allan Poe adaptions by Roger Corman, I have to say this one is the best. The actors are very well cast, and I think Ray Milland does an excellent job, I don't think Vincent Price would have brought another dimension to the character. Roland Stein's music score is just incredible, really chilling, and fits the theme and mood of the movie perfectly. The sets are classic style, they don't look very real, which is one of the reasons I like this movie (and other Poe-adaptions) so much. The charme of this film immense. The highlight of this film are the demonstration of Carrell's self-made coffin and the dream sequence (excellent colors). If you like old-school horror movies, this is for you.
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one highly chilling and suspenseful ride WARNING!!!!!!!!!! MINOR SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!
callanvass21 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
one highly chilling and suspenseful ride is extremely well acted Ray Miland gives an awesome performance and is very likable Hazel Court is beautiful and does her job well the rest of the actors do fine also there is lots of moody and spooky scenes there is also lots of creepy atmosphere the finale is highly suspenseful and dare i say exciting???? the scene where Emily is being buried alive is frightening and an unusual twist that i didn't see coming it is well made with gorgeous et pieces and some striking moments now there is not much gore or that many deaths but the suspenseful mood and creepy atmosphere makes up for it also Roger Corman's stylish direction helps overall a wonderful horror flick that deserves more credit an absolute must see!!!!!! ****1/2 out of 5 oh i got this is a double feature disc with the Masque Of Red Death one of the best buy i ever made
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More macabre mayhem from Corman and Poe
The_Void18 July 2005
The Premature Burial is certainly a lesser entry in Roger Corman's "Poe" cycle, but even a lesser entry for this great series can be considered something of a minor horror classic, and that is exactly what The Premature Burial is. It is unfortunate, however, that the winning team of Roger Corman, Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price had to be split up, with the great actor sitting this one out. I'm sure that Price wasn't very pleased about it either, as this is about as 'Poe' as you can get without actually being the man himself. It's well documented that Poe's favourite subject is that of being buried alive, and that is very much the central theme that runs through this movie, as our central character is obsessed with his fear of being buried alive, because of his father's catatonia, to the extent that he has built himself a tomb for him to be placed in when he finally dies. Aside from this central theme, Corman has dotted other Poe trademarks around the story, such as the theme of betrayal and even a cat trapped inside the walls of a building!

While the film lacks the great Vincent Price, his replacement, Ray Milland, doesn't do a bad job at all in the lead. Milland had already proved himself as an actor in films such as Billy Wilder's 'Lost Weekend', and he shows here why he's one of the A-cast. What he lacks, though, is Price's authority and commandment of the screen. Throughout the film, I couldn't help but wonder how the film would have been with Price in the lead instead of Milland...and while thinking that, I couldn't help but think it would have been better. My favourite aspect of this movie has got to be the stylishly foreboding atmosphere that Corman creates around his central story. The graveyard surrounding the house that the characters live in is lovingly decked out with masses of smoke, and the result, while slightly over the top, makes for a great treat for the eyes! Typically for a Corman movie, this one has it's problems in the plot department. At times, the film slows down completely and while Corman never allows it to get boring, some sequences; such as Milland's dream sequence, just go on too long. However, while this isn't as good as the likes of The Masque of the Red Death and The Fall of the House of Usher; it's still a more than worthy entry in the series and comes with high recommendations!
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Katmiss2 June 2001
"The Premature Burial", the third film in Roger Corman's wildly successful Poe series, is disappointing in comparison with the excellent previous entries, "House of Usher" and "Pit and the Pendulum". While there are some great moments, there are some big time problems with the film itself.

Ray Milland plays Guy Farrell, a medical student (that's a laugh)who has the fear of being buried alive, like his father was. If you can't guess what's going to happen next, you must have been buried prematurely. Originally, Vincent Price was cast. Corman was going to release this film through his Filmgroup distribution company with Pathe Labs financing the film. AIP then locked Price into a contract and Corman was forced to use Milland, sadly miscast. (Ironically, AIP did release the final product when Filmgroup dissolved and Pathe Labs' position was bought out.)

A big problem with this film is the pacing. It is excruciating slow at times, especially for a film that runs only 81 minutes. With gothic horror, pacing is important. Like "Masque of the Red Death", unless you can tolerate a slow paced film, you're going to hate it. The sets are not as impressive this time around as in most entries and the script is too static to really work as horror.

But it's still an interesting experiment and one could do a lot worse than "The Premature Burial". Floyd Crosby's cinematography is still tops of its' kind (best seen in letterboxed format, eventually MGM will release the DVD)and Corman is able to film a few really effective moments (especially the burials). It's not the best Poe film (that honor goes to "House of Usher"), but it's not the worst ("The Oblong Box" receives that honor, a non-Corman Poe film). I think that Corman fans will appreciate it more than regular moviegoers. Worth a look.

*** out of 4 stars
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