Monday, March 9, 2015

Unburied Alive!

K. Kendall emailed me looking for a Twilight Zone story she remembers about a woman terrified of being buried alive! Sounds more like a Night Gallery story, but I think I have what you're looking for-- from the November 1975 issue of Twilight Zone #67, atmospheric art by Jose Luiz Garcia-Lopez.


Brian Barnes said...

Well, it's certainly a story :)

The art is great in this. Garcia-Lopez had a little trouble with Serling's face, but other than that, gorgeous art.

The reveal of the coffin being in the living room is the best part of the story, the absolutely out of the blue motivations is the worse part, but the art saves this one.

Mestiere said...

"I went into some kind of coma--and they buried me by mistake! Buried ali-i-ive!" Wow, bad acting in a comic book!

How come Myra could see in the dark? And if she wasn't buried, why couldn't she open the lid? There wouldn't be a lock in a coffin, would it?

It really doesn't seem a Twilight Zone story, there is no science fiction or paranormal angle. More like something that could happen in Boris Karloff's Thriller or in any number of other anthology series.

I did enjoy the characters insane expressions!

Karswell said...

Yeah, that's why I mentioned Night Gallery

Mr. Cavin said...

Pretty sure that the line "and then, as her hands became her eyes in that Stygian darkness..." is there to indicate that she, in fact, actually cannot see in the dark. But people might have complained about panel after panel of sound effects over undifferentiated black panels, so the artist took a little license with the third-person omniscience. As one does.

Also, yeah, I think anything with a spring release can pretty much be considered latched shut when that release isn't triggered. It's why so many kids used to die in refrigerators. Why you'd make a coffin like this is unknown--maybe to contain expanding gasses? Seal out adipocere-building moisture? Furthermore, why the hell would anyone make a refrigerator like this, either?

Hey, the twist ending got me! I guess I've just gotten so used to the idea that dead spouses reanimate just to seek marital revenge that I was completely blind-sided by the Scooby-Doo switcheroo here. I think the story should go one more page, where we find out she really did die after all, but her ghost so expected to be buried alive that she's still convinced that's what happened. Spoookieee!

Karswell said...

Much better ending... most of these TZ comics are pretty tame, but still fun, and the covers are incredible. Same can be said for most Gold Key / Whitman titles like this, I guess.

Fran Xavier said...

There was a comic taken from a Ray Bradbury story about a woman being buried alive by her husband. A little girl hears the woman calling from her grave in a vacant lot or woods & runs home to tell her father. He doesn't believe her until he tells him the woman was singing a song & he realizes its a tune he wrote for an old girl friend that only she would know. They dig her up, and I believe, save her life. I cant recall if this was an EC or one of the much later Warren magazines. I think the artist was Joe Orlando.

Karswell said...

it was also remade for TV a couple times, Fran... I fondly remember the 70's version starring Olivia de Havilland. It was also an episode of Ray Bradbury Theatre starring Drew Barrymore

Mestiere said...

Since "and then, as her hands became her eyes in that Stygian darkness..." means no light got in and since Myra apparently couldn't hear anything either, does that mean that the coffin was airtight? Because then she would be far more likely to die of suffocation rather than a heart attack.

As for putting locks on coffins to prevent the escape of gases, the opposite is true. In an airtight, locked casket the build-up of methane can cause the coffin to explode. That's why caskets often have burper valves.

Myra was not actually going to get buried; she was going to the family crypt, as seen on page 3. Her fears of being buried alive are especially peculiar since she would simply be able to open the lid if she woke up. She wouldn't be under six feet of dirt. It was just a matter of not putting a lock on the casket.

I found the story version of The Screaming Woman by Ray Bradbury (you can read it in the collection S is for Space) pretty creepy because the woman did not survive and, in fact, probably was not buried alive. She had been buried under rocks and dirt in an empty lot. You can read an alternate ending by Bradbury here where the non-survival of the woman is inambiguous.

Mr. Cavin said...

Burp valves! That’s excellent! But yeah, you are absolutely right, the locks and seals on caskets are certainly for keeping moisture and ground elements out of the box, not for keeping gasses in. I assume that’s also the reason the lady didn’t suffocate, because coffins themselves have to breathe. Good call, man. Light tightness is easy enough to achieve with a mere curtain, and I don’t remember the story making any claim about her coffin being soundproof--it’s very clear that he can hear her pounding away inside it, for example; and later he is pretty certain, when there’s a “sudden silence”, that she has died.

Here’s a handy little amateur video demonstrating the complicated-looking locking mechanism in modern caskets. In the good old days, there would just be a latch and release sunk into a mortise cut in the pine lid; and to this day, simple locks laid into the wood to join two edges meant to join (in cabinets, panels, set back-drops, you name it) are still referred to as casket locks.

Grant said...

Those wardrobe changes the story gives Myra in the early scenes are entertaining - they're meant to show how well-off she is, and you know that's the point, but the idea still works. Especially the riding clothes.
I've been going to a DARK SHADOWS blog, and coincidentally, just recently I saw an episode that tries to emphasize Carolyn Collins as a "spoiled rich girl," and sure enough, she's in a riding outfit. The funny thing is, probably no other episode shows her dressed that way or even suggests that the family has horses at all! But again, it's shorthand for "rich girl."