Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Premature Burial

The fear of being accidentally buried alive is very real to some people. In some schizophrenics prone to catatonic fits the body can take on a rigor mortis-like state. It was a particular fear to Edgar Allan Poe, who returned to the theme often, most notably in "The Premature Burial" (1844 Dollar Newspaper) and The Fall of the House of Usher (1839 Gentleman's Magazine; 1903 chap). The Plot Device became a convenience in sensational Gothic and Victorian fiction to explain apparent Hauntings (see Rationalized Fantasy), Revenants or even Vampires. The theme was used by several writers strongly influenced by Poe in their early works, especially M P Shiel and H P Lovecraft. Poe's story leant itself to an extended movie adaptation as Premature Burial (1962), dir Roger Corman, scripted Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell (1924-1999); novelized as Premature Burial * (1962) by Max Hallan Danne. [MA]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.