The Premature Burial (1962)
Counter to The Masque of Red Death I knew that this film was written by Edgar Allen Poe. And while the photography was the same bland crap found in that film, the story was easy enough to follow to avoid explaining small details in a boring way. It involves a wealthy man, Guy Carrell (Ray Milland), who has an overwhelming fear of being buried alive; what is called vivisepulture when I was seeing if there was a word for it. Guy also has a cataleptic disorder in which, like his father, he can faint and appear dead, even though he’s not. He often recalls his father’s funeral where he swore to have heard his father screaming from his tomb, who allegedly died for other reasons.
After his wedding day, Guy faints while listening to his wife play the piano, growing even more paranoid about being buried alive, leading him on an obsessive mission to construct a foolproof chamber vault that provides him all chance of escape, including a collapsible coffin, ladder through the chimney, and even with a poisonous elixir, if all else fails. The end is so great that it’s best to stop and avoid risking spoilers, as even early M. Knight Shyamalan would be proud. It all pieces together into a great classic tale of terror - providing the rare occasion of a film meeting the exact definition of that general phrase and explaining why the double feature was rated so high. It provided everything you’d want from a Poe story, even matching well with the photography’s limitations. There’s nothing more to say beyond the experience of watching it. It’s a perfect film for any small Halloween party that’s serving cocktails.
BELOW: An early Boris Karloff adaptation
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