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The Premature Burial (1962) is an American International Pictures horror film, directed by Roger Corman, starring Ray Milland, also with Hazel Court, Alan Napier, Heather Angel and Richard Ney, screenplay by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell, based upon the 1844 short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. It was the third in the series of eight Poe-themed pictures, known informally as the "Poe Cycle", directed by Corman for American International.


Set in the early dark Victorian-era 1830s or 1840s (also similar to Charles Dickens' fiction of rain-soaked London streets), it follows Guy Carrell, who is obsessed with the fear of death. He is most obsessed with the fear of being buried alive. Though his fiancee Emily says he has nothing to be afraid of, he still thinks he will be buried alive (a common fear and in reality an occasional occurrence). So deluded, he seeks help from a few people, including his sister, but he still is haunted by the fear of death and the sense that someone close wants him dead.


  • Ray Milland as Guy Carrell
  • Heather Angel as Kate Carrell, Guy's sister
  • Hazel Court as Emily Gault, Guy's wife
  • Alan Napier as Dr. Gideon Gault
  • Richard Ney as Miles Archer
  • John Dierkes as Sweeney
  • Dick Miller as Mole
  • Clive Halliday as Judson
  • Brendan Dillon as Clergyman


Roger Corman had made two successful adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's (1809-1849) works for American International Pictures (AIP) starring the famous and preeminent horror and suspense star of the 1950s and 60s, Vincent Price.

He decided to make his own Poe film with financing through Pathe Lab. He wanted to use Price, but AIP had him under exclusive contract, so he cast instead Ray Milland. On the first day of shooting James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff of AIP turned up, announcing Corman was working for them - they had threatened Pathe with the loss of their business if they did not bring the movie back to AIP.[1]

Francis Ford Coppola worked on the movie as dialogue director.[3]


Cavett Binion in "Allmovie" notes, "Milland's performance conveys the requisite amount of hand-wringing torment (in the mode of "The Lost Weekend" movie), even if he fails to capture the manic intensity that Price brought to the other Poe films that he played or starred in. Corman's deft direction, employing a rich palette of colors and superb widescreen compositions, is on a par with the series' finest installments."[4]

Awards and nominations

The film won a 1962 "Golden Laurel" - "Sleeper of the Year" Award.

See also

  • List of American films of 1962
  • Edgar Allan Poe in television and film


  1. 1.0 1.1 Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, "How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime", Muller, 1990, page 83-84
  2. Box office information for Roger Corman films in France at Box Office Story
  3. Coppola Breaks the Age Barrier Madsen, Axel. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Jan 1966: m6.
  4. "The New York Times" Overview. Retrieved 26 September 2008.

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External links

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