Retinopathy of Prematurity Movie Reviews
The Premature Burial (1962) substitutes Ray Milland in the usual Price role. He's a snarky landowner (with a sideline in art--dig those mod paintings) haunted by the fear of being buried alive. This single-minded focus limits the film, but it also adds to the smothering sense of anxiety that prevails throughout its unhealthy scenario. Luscious Hazel Court is Milland's new missus, and old-school cameraman Floyd Crosby proves his facility for photographing women in a classical style. Lots of cobwebs-on-candelabra in the customary Corman-Poe manner, with special emphasis on Milland's crypt, with its supposedly foolproof exit schemes. --Robert Horton
And on the flipside we get Premature Burial. Apparently, Roger Corman had some kind of minor falling out with AIP, and decided to make this movie without AIP. He approached Pathe, which did color for the movies, and they showed interest in backing Corman on this movie, as they wanted to get into film distribution. Well, things moved on from there, and the cast was set, and then AIP bought Pathe, making it a AIP production in the end. The only reason I mention this is because Ray Milland, not Vincent Price stars in this movie. Vincent Price had been under contact with AIP, so when Roger Corman wanted to cast the movie, he was unable to get Vincent as the star. Some say the movie suffers from this, but I disagree. I think Vincent Price was an amazing actor, but I really enjoyed Ray Milland in the lead role. Ray plays Guy Carrell, a man obsessed with being buried alive. In the basement of his manor, there are tombs where his family members are interred. When he was young, his father passed away, but Guy thinks his father wasn't really dead, and claims to have heard him trying to escape. Apparently his father had a disease that could present the appearance of death, even when the person wasn't really dead. Guy's fear of being buried alive stems from this. His fear is so great he builds a crypt, complete with numerous escape routes should he ever suffer the same fate. His thoughts of death and being buried alive consume him, and so his relationship with his new wife suffers. Hazel Court plays Emily, his wife, and she thinks he's suffering from a sickness of the mind, his being so pre-occupied with the subject and she tries to get help from the family physician. She finally convinces Guy to destroy his crypt and try to live a normal life. I have to say, I thought his crypt was pretty cool, and he seemed to have thought of everything. It kind of reminded me of those bomb shelters people built in the 50's in case of nuclear attack. Anyhow, Guy has an attack, brought on by trying to prove his father didn't die as he thought, and goes into a comatose death-like state and his worst fear comes to reality, that of being buried alive! He manages to escape, and learns of plans by others to hasten his demise and begins to set things right. A pretty decent entry, although I saw the ending coming from about halfway into the movie. An red herring was offered to us in who was responsible for the odd goings on, the little things intended to fuel his fears, but it was presented in such a way it was so obvious that it couldn't be true. That was probably my biggest problem with this movie, and I tried not to give anything away in illustrating it. The dream/nightmare sequence was quite good, and filmed very similar to the dream sequence in Masque of the Red Death. I guess if something works, stick with it. I really enjoyed Ray Milland in this movie, a man ruled by his obsession with premature burial. Was this a common problem back in the day? There was rationalization presented to support his fear, but I guess most everyone has to fear something, although premature burial is pretty low on my list.
Masque of the Red Death, another in the Corman-Poe-Price series from American International, is considered by many to be among the best of the series. Great sets, vivid color, creepy story - in short, all the elements are in play here. The DVD features a very clean print and a bonus documentary with the fascinating Roger Corman. Well worth the price MGM is charging, you should also pick up "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Pit and the Pendulum," just some of the other AIP films available through this series.
Premature Burial, a Ray Milland vehicle directed by Corman, is about a man who is terrified to be buried alive. It isn't great, but solid nontheless, and eminently viewable, with the same gothic atmosphere that won't disappoint fans of the Poe series. There is a Corman documentary for this one, too. If you like Milland, look for "X - The Man with the X-ray Eyes", "The Thing with Two Heads", "Frogs", and "The Attic".