Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ray Milland, Hazel Court, Richard Ney, Heather Angel, Alan Napier, John Dierkes, Dick Miller, Clive Halliday, Brendan Dillon
Written by: Charles Beaumont, Ray Russell, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe
Directed by: Roger Corman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 81
Date: 03/07/1962

The Premature Burial (1962)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Probably the least of Roger Corman's cycle of Poe movies, The Premature Burial suffers because of its casting; Corman wanted Vincent Price for the lead -- and Price was in all the other seven of the movies in the series -- but because of an attempted split from AIP, Price's contract was locked up. So he went with Oscar winner Ray Milland, who had been in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend, but whose career had not particularly soared. Of course, Milland is not a bad actor... just wrong for the role of Guy Carrell, a "med student" (in his fifties), who fears falling into a cataleptic state and being buried alive, as he believes his father was. He's married to pretty Emily (Hazel Court), but they don't go on their honeymoon or do much of anything because of his obsession. Instead, he works on an elaborate tomb that's riddled with secret escape routes. Because the story was so short, Corman's movie relies on lots of moody, trippy nightmare sequences as well as a bit of moping. Dick Miller co-stars as a grave-digger called "Mole." Milland went on to a much better role in Corman's X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

Kino Lorber released an excellent 2015 Blu-ray that collectors will love; it contains an interview with Roger Corman as well as a slightly older "Trailers from Hell" episode (he repeats himself a bit, but it's OK). Joe Dante offers his defense of the movie as well. A trailer is also included. After Tales of Terror, this is the second of Kino's Corman/Poe Blu-rays, and I'm hoping that the other six -- The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). -- will eventually follow.

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