This was the third of Roger Corman's Poe adaptations and the only one that didn't star Vincent Price. In late 19th-century England, Milland lives in morbid fear of being buried alive, as he believes his father--a cataleptic--was. Milland is so obsessed with this notion that he even
attempts to postpone his marriage to the beautiful Court, though she refuses to let him. Soon after their marriage, Milland constructs a burial vault equipped with a half-dozen escape hatches. His best friend, Ney, is disturbed by his obsession and, helped by Court, persuades him to destroy the
vault. Coming to his senses, Milland even agrees to face his fear by unlocking his father's crypt to view the remains. The sight of the skeleton, however, causes him to suffer what appears to be a fatal heart attack, and he is pronounced dead. However, just as he feared, Milland is alive but
cannot move. He is placed in a casket and buried, but when a pair of body snatchers dig up his corpse, Milland rises from the "dead" and kills the men. He then creeps off into the misty night to mete out revenge on those who buried him.
Although a solid effort, this film sorely misses Price, who would have brought a more intense sense of fear and obsession to the role. While Milland does well in the scenes in which he logically explains the various escape devices built into his crypt, he lacks a mad edge. In addition to these
casting problems, the film also suffers from a script by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell that falls back on several plot twists from the previous Poe pictures, and the climax is predictable and hurried. Visually, however, the film is quite interesting and benefits from Daniel Haller's excellent
set design and director Corman's usual sharp eye for color and composition (most of which will be lost on videotape, for the wide-screen film, like the other Corman Poe adaptations, is not letterboxed). Corman's creative use of sound--from a cat trapped in a wall to the eerily whistled "Molly
Malone"--adds immeasurably to the overall creepiness.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This was the third of Roger Corman's Poe adaptations and the only one that didn't star Vincent Price. In late 19th-century England, Milland lives in morbid fear of being buried alive, as he believes his father--a cataleptic--was. Milland is so obsessed wit… (more)