Premature Burial (1961)

A newlywed husband begins living in a state of paralyzing fear after uncovering the tomb of a man who was buried alive. His wife and family friend force him to confront his obsession with his own death, which causes him to fall into a death-like state that ultimately leads to his own premature burial. Roger Corman attempts to fill this lifeless Edgar Allen Poe adaptation with fog-laced environments and roving cameras, but the above average production is hardly able to mask the tedious plotting and passable performances. The attempt that is made to recover the pacing following Guy's "return" from the dead proves to be too little too late to win back the audience. Ray Milland brings very little with his performance, appearing stiff and unsympathetic as the film's paranoid lead. PREMATURE BURIAL does include a colorful nightmare sequence similar to the one that had been used months earlier in PIT AND THE PENDULUM, where he finds himself trapped in his own tomb with nothing save for the sound of his own heartbeat. This may fall in the lower end of the spectrum for Corman's Poe cycle, but it still provides enough atmosphere and suspense to appeal to most Gothic Horror fans.

Rating: 7/10.
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  1. From the way you describe it I would was expecting a lower rating.

  2. Thats where it is tough rating some of Corman's Gothic films; even when the actors and pacing are off, the production and design of the film still make it better than a large majority of films. It was close to a 6 on this one, but I just couldnt bring myself to rank it lower thanks to some superior filming by Floyd Crosby

  3. I really enjoyed this one! I thought Milland was great as the man morbidly obssessed with his own death. I think the casting of Milland makes it stand out, and it is refreshing to see a less melodramatic and theatrical approach to the Poe/Corman material.

  4. I never thought I would like this one due to Milland being cast as opposed to Price, who was apparently tied up in other obligations. I thought it was a good movie, if fairly interchangeable with other Corman-Price-Poe pictures. Still, Corman was incredibly good at making these and making them rich with atmosphere.

  5. I loved the look of the film, thats for sure, but I just didnt buy Milland as the lead. I dont feel that the role would have benefited from having Price in there either though?