One of Roger Corman’s best Poe movies. This one stars Ray Milland and the screenplay is by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell. Horror fans shouldn’t miss this one.
Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) believes catalepsy runs in the family and he has an ingrained fear of being buried alive. He believes his father met that fate. He writes a letter to his fiance, Emily Gault (Hazel Court) calling off the wedding. She comes to the house on the moors and is given a cold greeting by Guy’s sister Kay (Heather Angel). She tells her Guy doesn’t want to see her. She goes back to see him anyway and he explains why he can’t marry her. Emily convinces him to change his mind.
Attending the wedding are Guy’s friend Miles Archer and Emily’s physician-professor father (Alan Napier). Guy freaks when Emily plays “Molly Malone” on the piano. It’s a tune he heard in a dream about gravediggers whistling it when they dug up the coffin of his father.
Guy’s obsession results in him building a burial vault in the moors. He has a coffin he can open with one finger from the inside. He’s also built in several escape methods from the vault. If none of them work he has a vial of poison as a last resort. Miles tells Emily you can’t inherit catalepsy but Guy is so obsessed that any remainder could set him off.
Emily finally gives him a choice. Destroy the vault or she’s leaving. He complies and destroys it. Miles says he should go to the family crypt and open his father’s coffin and see that he wasn’t buried alive. Guy opens it and a skeleton with a contorted look falls on him. Guy passes out and Emily’s father pronounces him dead of a heart attack. Not so fast. Only Guy knows he’s in a cataleptic state.
Things get real interesting from here. Corman’s Poe movies with Vincent Price were first rate and this one without him can stand right beside them.