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[tab title="Movie Review"]

The Premature Burial - Blu-ray Review


3 stars

Ray Milland steps into the obsessive role Vincent Price normally played for American International Pictures in Roger Corman’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Premature Burial.  While that makes the events in the film a little less theatrical, it amps up the intensity level as Milland, an accomplished leading man in his own right, targets the fear of being buried alive with his focused abilities.  This low budget horror film has a remarkable atmosphere that – especially on this blu-ray from Kino-Lorber – speaks volumes about Corman’s legendary attention to details.

The Premature Burial is the third in a long list of exceptional Poe adaptations from Corman.   Set in the early dark Victorian-era, the movie follows an artist named Guy Carrell (Milland) and explores his fear of being buried alive.  His headstrong fiancée, Emily Gault (Hazel Court) explains that his hereditary catalepsy is in his mind only and thwarts his attempts to maintain a failsafe tomb for escape and a just-in-case poison.  Unfortunately, his fear gets the better of him and his actions spiral out of control in this gloomy offering from the Corman camp. 

While a subject to being classified as a minor offering, The Premature Burial remains a dark gem in Corman’s catalog.  The “walled-in” design, courtesy of art director Danial Halle and Corman, brings the soundstage the film was shot on to life, ironically enough, with creepy graveyard intensity and a gnarled, spooky look that resonates explicitly on this HD presentation.  Heavy shadows dance across the screen and haunt Milland’s every move as he moves closer to his own fears.  Co-starring Alan Napier, Heather Angel, Richard Ney, and Corman regular Dick Miller, the film is also notable for the inclusion of Francis Ford Coppola as the film’s dialogue director.

I think the biggest knock against the movie has always been Price’s lack of involvement.  Milland, if I am being honest, is great here handling the paranoia of a gripping fear that knows no end.  He’s intense and has a way with emoting that suggest a reality that is not quite as skewed as what Price might have brought to the material.  This difference in acting isn’t so much of a bad thing as it just a different spin on familiar Poe themes.  The paralyzing fear Milland taps into still translates well as classic gothic horror. 

Corman unearths claustrophobia with disturbing results in The Premature Burial.


[tab title="Film Details"]

The Premature Burial - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
81 mins
: Roger Corman
Charles Beaumont (screenplay), Ray Russell
Ray Milland, Hazel Court, Richard Ney
: Horror
Within the Coffin I Lie...ALIVE!
Memorable Movie Quote: "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."
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 7, 1962
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 12, 2015
Emily Gault arrives at the Carrell mansion determined to rekindle an old relationship with Guy Carrell (Ray Milland), 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...


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Premature Burial - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 12, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

The newly minted 1080p transfer is glorious.  Colors are bright and full of life and the detail is strong, ringing true in almost every scene.  Black levels are deep and keep their edges in the shadows.  Optical effect shots are clear, with some minor fuzziness, but the edges are usually quite sharp.  The DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix soundtrack in two-channel mono is adequate for the at-home experience.



  • None

Special Features:

Kino doesn’t disappoint with the batch of goodies included in the supplemental department.  Director Joe Dante discusses his feelings on the film in one featurette and director Roger Corman discusses the AIP fallout in another.   Corman guides viewers through the film’s original trailer in the final supplemental item.  Nothing is too important but it is all very, very fun for this chilling release.

  • Buried Alive! (10 min)
  • Roger Corman Unearths The Premature Burial (10 min)
  • Trailers from Hell< (3 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer


[tab title="Trailer"]