Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Director: Roger Corman

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynette Bernay, Larry Turner, Mary Menzies, Charles Victor, Randee Lynne Jensen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Until now no one has dared to film this ...... the most diabolical classic of all time!

Plot: Francis Barnard goes to Spain, when he hears his sister Elizabeth has died. Her husband Nicholas Medina, the son of the brutal torturer of the Spanish Inquisition, tells him she has died of a blood disease, but Francis finds this hard to believe. After some investigating he finds out that it was extreme fear that was fatal to his sister and that she may have been buried alive! Strange things then start to happen in the Medina castle.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

The opening credits are outstanding.  Les Baxter's ominous music coupled with the dark and foreboding imagery really set the stage for what's about to come.  I recently re-watched THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960) and, while I LOVED the atmosphere, it wasn't the home run it should have been.  It was an hour long movie forced into about an hour and twenty minutes which lead to pacing problems and ultimately boredom.  This picture is the same length and suffers from a little slowness but that builds to a wonderful climax that has a great little stinger in the last few seconds.  The differences between the two is that the other had a smaller cast and not as much story to tell.  Yeah, Price in PIT does some of that overacting he's famous for but he's also doing a great job when he's not.  He's got a surprise in the last act that had me tickled to death.  It's been probably twenty years since I saw this and it's times like this that I'm glad I have a spotty memory.  It was like watching it all over again for the first time.  The only thing that would top it is to watch it in an enthusiastically packed movie theater.

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