The Pit & The Pendulum : The Film - The Poster
If you found out that your sister just died, wouldn't you want to travel all the way to where she once lived, and then hear first hand about the circumstances behind her demise?
Yeah? You would? So would Francis Barnard (John Kerr) too. Which is why he makes his way to his brother-in-laws foreboding Castle, with the intent of piecing together how his dearly departed sister, Elisabeth
Steele), popped her clogs.
Thankfully, after a shaky start, the occupants of the
household are more than willing to explain to Frances
what really went on. From his brother-in-law, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price),
he hears how his seemingly happy marriage dissolved over time, due to the fact
that their baroque dwelling made Elisabeth die with fright. Furthermore, to substantiate
Nicholas's claim, his sister, Catherine Medina (Luana Anders), explains to Frances
how Nicholas saw their Father kill their Mother and Uncle when he was but a
child, due to an act of infidelity.
Still, do you honestly think
believes any of what he hears? Even when the family Doctor, Charles Leon
(Antony Carbone), tries to reinforce the Medina's
tales with medical rhetoric!
No. Not really. But then again that's most probably why what next transpires goes bump in the night when a spook makes herself known. As death tries to escape from its casket - Nicholas turns into a right fruit-basket - infidelity is the key to this story- and my God, isn't that big axe rather gory?
Now before I explain to you my 411 on 'The Pit and The Pendulum', please allow me to relay a quote I recently read by its director, Roger Corman...
'The method we adopted on The Pit and the Pendulum was to use the Poe short story as the climax for a third act to the motion picture; because a two-page short story is not about to give you a ninety-minute movie. We then constructed the first two acts in what we hoped was a manner faithful to Poe, as his climax would run only a short time on the screen'.
Vincent Price -- who just steals the show by playing it big, small, mannered, or whatever, whenever he need's be.
Yeah. I'm not messing about. If I had to rate movies in order of brain-busting and Gothic splendour, screw Tim Burton, this one would be nearing the top of my list. Furthermore, if you read in-between the line's of my previous Corman quote, you could hazard a guess that this flick took one hell of a left turn at the beginning of the third act, that it actually made me appreciate it a lot more than I initially did.
OK, so where was I? Oh, yeah! 'The Pit and the Pendulum'. The film that reminds me of a dead-leg.
It's a strange sensation, isn't it? Not bad. Not painful. But comes across as if something that is there... isn't. However, don't you find that this numbness begins to erode away a tingle at a time, and for some peculiar reason, makes your malady feel even better afterwards?
Yeah? Do you see what I'm getting at, folks? I hope so. Because that's what this film seems like to me. An initial numbness that appears supercharged once it's over and done with. And it is a great movie too. One that you'll have to watch if you like mystery, suspense, mannered acting, and the usual savoury and timely beauty of yesteryear.
Say no more.
THE RATING: B+