The Premature Burial/Review

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< The Premature Burial
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British aristocrat Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) doesn't fear dying: he fears being mistaken for dead! That's his horrible obsession; his constant distraction. Afflicted by a family history of Taphophobia (an all-consuming fear of being misdiagnosed and accidentally buried alive) he's got a real problem: and it's a problem for all the other people in his life.

Emily (Hazel Court), Guy's wife, is patient but astonished as her husband, a man with plentiful resources, builds an escape-ready mausoleum for himself—in the backyard of their estate! The marble structure has been fashioned with gadgets, ropes, buttons and even a vial of poison: accouterments that provide Guy with options should his living nightmare ever come true.

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Will Guy eventually be buried alive? Those two creepy workmen certainly seem suspicious. Or is his hellish fantasy just that? Oh, and what about Guy’s "sweet" sister Kate (Heather Angel)? An Edgar Allan Poe adaptation (a monologue from the author's same-titled original work is recited word-for-word), Premature Burial is an occasionally talky Victorian era entertainment that remains haunting. It makes you think: "I'm glad that that's not my obsession/fear!"

Director/Producer Roger Corman (with Francis Ford Coppola as Assistant Director [!]) delivers one of many fine film adaptions of an American classic. The psychedelic hallucinatory fantasy sequence is a shrewd nod to the 1960's counter culture. Well done and brief; 81 minutes.


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Josiah Howard is the author of four books including Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing). His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times and Readers Digest. A veteran of more than one hundred radio broadcasts, Howard also lectures on cinema and is a frequent guest on entertainment news television. Visit his Official Website.

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