Premature Burial (1962)

Premature Burial
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell from the story by Edgar Allen Poe
Roger Corman Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Guy Carrell: 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.

Took a horror film out of sequence in celebration of Halloween.  It could have been scarier.

As the movie starts, Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) witnesses a grave robbery.  The coffin has scratch marks from the inside.  This traumatic event causes Guy to obsess on the death of his own father from catalepsy and conviction that he was buried alive.  Sister Catherine (Heather Angel) assures him that this is not true but he is not comforted.  Guy begins a morbid quest to insure that he is not the victim of his father’s fate.

In the meantime, he marries the much younger Emily (Hazel Court).  When Guy starts seeing things, Emily gives him an ultimatum.  It’s his foolproof burial chamber or her …

This is Roger Corman in his gothic mode with Ray Milland subbing for Vincent Price.  I like Milland but I felt like he was over-acting, odd since I enjoy Price’s hamming.  There are quite a few built-in scares and jump shots toward the end but nothing that got to me. Corman does make an Ozu-like (well, sort of) use of the color red which I found interesting.

My favorite part was to see Milland and Heather Angel together again after 25 years.  She was Phyllis to his Bulldog Drummond in Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937).  Milland made one of the better Bulldogs in the series and she was always good as his long-suffering fiancee.

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