The film is reasonably accurate to the essence of Edgar Allan Poes original 1850 short story, which is mostly an essay about historical occurrences of the title subject before segueing into a study in obsession from the unnamed narrator who is deathly afraid of being buried alive and builds a tomb that he can escape from should such happen. The film adds to the story an improbably contrived psycho-thriller plot involving a scheme to drive somebody mad a la Les Diaboliques (1955). Not much is explained about this plot like why the culprit is concocting this scheme or about Alan Napiers traffic in stolen cadavers. Nor does any of the tortured psychology invoked in explaining Ray Millands obsession with premature burial rings authentic at all.
That said, Premature Burial is nicely written in places I especially liked the scene where Hazel Court tells Ray Milland that he is already dead, that his attempts to avoid premature burial have already symbolically buried him. Roger Corman does a fine job directing notably a sequence modeled on the burial alive in Vampyr (1932) with Ray Milland trapped immobile in a coffin, looking up and hoping the mourners will see his open eyes. Hazel Court plays with a nicely tight-lipped firmness of character. Although, Ray Milland, replacing Vincent Price who would normally be filling this role, gives an anxious, thoroughly overwrought performance.
With Premature Burial, Roger Corman changed his formula slightly in that it is the only of the Edgar Allan Poe films not to star Vincent Price. Cormans usual screenwriter Richard Matheson is also replaced by horror writers Charles Beaumont, the author best known for 7 Faces of Dr Lao (1964) and Ray Russell, the writer of Mr. Sardonicus (1961) and Cormans X The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963).
Roger Cormans other Edgar Allan Poe films are The House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), the Poe-titled but H.P. Lovecraft adapted The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964).
Roger Cormans other genre films as director are: Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Not Of This Earth (1956), War of the Satellites (1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Journey to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957), The Undead (1957), Teenage Caveman (1958), A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), Last Woman on Earth (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), Tower of London (1962), The Terror (1963), X The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Trip (1967), Gas; or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (1970) and Frankenstein Unbound (1990). Cormans World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) is a documentary about Cormans career.
Full film available online here:-