HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Trapped
We Need to Do Something
Falbalas
Vanguard
A-X-L
Injustice
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
   
 
Newest Articles
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
   
 
  Pit and the Pendulum Into The Swing
Year: 1961
Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynette Bernay, Larry Turner, Mary Menzies, Charles Victor
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: In the mid-sixteenth century, Francis Barnard (John Kerr) travels to the Spanish castle by the coast where his sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele) lived, after hearing the unwelcome news that she has died suddenly. When he is in sight of the building, perched as it is on a cliff, the coachman taking him there refuses to go any further and Francis has to walk the rest of the journey, and to top it all when he reaches the front door the butler, Maximilian (Patrick Westwood) won't let him in. When his sister-in-law (Luana Anders) appears, the butler relents, but it is clear there is a mystery here that Francis must solve...

After the lower budget AIP studio had taken a chance on a shot at resepctability with an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation in House of Usher, they found they had a hit on their hands, and its director Roger Corman was being taken seriously as an auteur at last. Corman naturally decided to follow this up with another Poe story, and picked one of the more famous tales, The Pit and the Pendulum, even though as written there was barely enough material for a segment in an anthology never mind a whole movie. Screenwriter Richard Matheson quickly came up with a solution: mix up a selection of highlights from the famed author's work, and see what could be done with them.

Therefore in this you would encounter burial alive, lost loves, madness and the encroaching dread that would come to terrible fruition in the film's climax where the torture device of the title was put into play. Oddly, although there were liberties taken with the Poe story, not many complained as Matheson remained faithful to the spirit of the original prose, and with Corman and his team working up a fine atmosphere of Gothic horror there were those who preferred it to his initial attempt from the previous year. In truth, there's not much that happens until that final burst of violence, but so sustained is that sense of impending doom that you'd have to be especially uncharitable to grumble.

Vincent Price was back as the, it's safe to say, troubled lead Nicholas Medina, just the right side of hamming it up and very entertaining to watch as he frequently swooned with the ghastliness of his predicament, stared off into the middle distance to suggest the torments rushing through his mind, and finally felt his sanity snap like a dry twig. Backing him up was a newer horror star, Barbara Steele, already typecast as she has had an international hit with Black Sunday the year before, although watching this now the twist that her character was at the centre of is an obvious one, as there was no way she was going to be relegated to one flashback as if her role was really of a dead woman.

Though even then, she was underused and soon found herself back in Europe cast in an attempt to cash in on the success of the Mario Bava film she had been such a crucial part of. As if that was not bad enough, Steele was dubbed into an American accent to fit with the other actors (no Spanish accents here, that's for sure), but if you can forgive the misuse of a cult star, then there was a lot to appreciate in this. Daniel Haller went to town on the production design, creating a weirdly colourful environment for the characters to drift through as Francis uncovers more about the truth of his sister's fate, and if Corman overdid it with cutaways to waves crashing on the cliffs and flashes of lightning illuminating the stormclouds then it was all part of the ripe texture of the piece. The race to stop the pendulum added a charge of adrenalin to what had been an near-stately effort, with the result that this was the most typical Poe film from these people. Music by Les Baxter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5159 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Roger Corman  (1926 - )

Legendary American B-Movie producer and director who, from the fifties onwards, offered low budget thrills with economy and flair. Early films include It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and X. The Intruder was a rare attempt at straightforward social comment.

Come the sixties, Corman found unexpected respectability when he adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for the screen: House of Usher, Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia among them, usually starring Vincent Price. He even tried his hand at counterculture films such as The Wild Angels, The Trip and Gas!, before turning to producing full time in the seventies.

Many notable talents have been given their break by Corman, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Monte Hellman, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, James Cameron and Peter Bogdanovich. Corman returned to directing in 1990 with the disappointing Frankenstein Unbound.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: