Friday, November 7, 2008

Your Worst Fear

The Wall Street Journal reports on a 73-year-old Brazilian man who has built a crypt with features to help him survive and call for aid in case he's buried alive:

Inside the crypt, there's a TV, also a water pitcher and a fruit pantry. Fresh outdoor air flows in through four vents from the chapel roof. Within reach of the coffin are two makeshift megaphones -- plastic cones attached to tubes running out through the wall.

They included a clip of the place.

As the article points out, the horror of premature burial is an old one. It peaked in the 18th and 19th centuries because plagues and primitive medical techniques made it a real possibility:

Such was his anxiety about waking up 6 feet under that George Washington left instructions that his body was not to be buried for three days after his passing, just to be safe. On foreign travels, the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen would leave a sign near his hotel bed reading "I am not dead" to make sure strangers didn't get the wrong idea.

Of course horror writers have mined this stuff for years. Poe's classic tale, "The Premature Burial" is over at But my favorite story is about a party, a case of fine spirits, and sweet, sweet revenge. Rest in peace, Fortunato my friend. Rest in peace.


  1. They also marketed a system where you could ring a bell hooked to your tombstone from your coffin if you were still alive - I remember seeing that one on the history channel.

  2. Thanks! I forgot about that. I have to dig up a diagram and post it on the site.

  3. Unless it includes a coffee maker, it's no good. I'd die without a coffee maker. Really.


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