The Premature Burial is a 1962 American horror feature film, directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell, based upon the 1844 short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie stars Ray Milland, Hazel Court, Alan Napier, Heather Angel and Richard Ney.
Corman had made two successful adaptations of Poe’s works for American International Pictures (AIP) starring Vincent Price. He decided to make his own Poe film with financing through Pathe Lab. He wanted to use Price, but AIP had him under exclusive contract, so he cast Ray Milland instead. On the first day of shooting AIP’s James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff turned up, announcing Corman was working for them – they had threatened Pathe with the loss of their business if they did not bring the movie back to AIP.
Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Twixt) worked on the movie as dialogue director.
Guy Carrell (Ray Milland), who is obsessed with the fear of death. He is most obsessed with the fear of being buried alive. Though his fiancee Emily says he has nothing to be afraid of, he still thinks he will be buried alive (a common fear and in reality an occasional occurrence). So deluded, he seeks help from a few people, including his sister, but he still is haunted by the fear of death and the sense that someone close wants him dead…
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“Oh and Milland was fine, not much of a surprise since he IS an Oscar winner. I mean, he’s no Price, but who is? He’s got the perfect look, where you can buy him as a villain or a hero quite easily – a benefit during the back and forth finale. The rest of the cast is also pretty good…” Horror Movie a Day
“There is the nucleus of a good movie in The Premature Burial. Unfortunately, most of that nucleus is recycled from The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum, and three consecutive movies spent tinkering with the same material is at least one too many.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“A shocker rather than a chiller, Corman conjures up some colourful, cobwebbed Poe atmosphere with swirling mists, petrified corpses and dank atmospheric suspense; and Milland’s dream sequence is genuinely frightening.” Peter Fuller, The Spooky Isles
Cast and characters:
Ray Milland … Guy Carrell
Hazel Court … Emily Gault
Richard Ney … Miles Archer
Heather Angel … Kate Carrell
Alan Napier … Doctor Gideon Gault
John Dierkes … Sweeney
Dick Miller … Mole (as Richard Miller)
Clive Halliday … Judson
Brendan Dillon … Minister
Producers Studios, 5330 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
The original UK cinema version was censored 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.