Three horror stories based on the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the first story titled "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Heidegger attempts to restore the youth of himself, his fiancee ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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 Kate tells Guy that it's time for his medicine, she's holding the tray in her hands. In the next shot it's gone, and it is nowhere to be seen when the three of them leave the crypt. 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 »
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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