20 November 2011 | Hey_Sweden
Good horror with a great lead performance.
Solid, well crafted entry in producer / director Roger Corman's cycle of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that's an effective exercise in psychological horror as well as more traditional kinds of horror (such as we see in the nightmare sequence, for example). It shows just how badly one's life can be affected by an unhealthy obsession.
Corman initially tried to get Vincent Price for the lead, needing to switch to Ray Milland instead. While the casting of Milland may have seemed odd at the time, the esteemed, Oscar winning actor would go on to make appearances in other genre and schlock movies in the future. Milland offers a mostly understated performance as the tormented Guy Carrell, medical student and painter who can't get his supposed legacy and phobia of being entombed alive out of his mind. Meanwhile, good friend Miles (Richard Ney), new wife Emily (beautiful genre vixen Hazel Court), and sister Kate (Heather Angel) grow increasingly concerned over his behaviour.
Working with his consistently reliable production design / cinematography team of Daniel Haller and Floyd Crosby, Corman is able to create very effective atmosphere for the production, and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio allows him to pack the frame with detail, and he also continues the practise of creating depth to the images. The music by the great Ronald Stein would be enjoyable enough on its own, but it's supplemented by the repeated refrain of the "Molly Malone" melody, whether it's whistled or played on the piano.
Milland does some delicious work here, particularly in the sequence where Guy is showing Emily and Miles all the safeguards he's put in place in case of his being "buried alive". The excellent cast also includes Alan Napier as Emily's doctor father (who utters one of the best lines, "I never enjoy myself, I merely experience greater and lesser amounts of tedium."), and John Dierkes & Corman regular Dick Miller as the unsavoury grave diggers.
The script by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell has a very literate quality, and Milland gives his dialogue all of the gravitas that he can muster.
While this wouldn't rank among the best of Corman's Poe series (that honour would have to go to "House of Usher" and "The Masque of the Red Death"), it's still very respectable and fun viewing for classic horror fans.
Seven out of 10.