A horse-drawn carriage pulls up on a deserted beach. A sombre figure dismounts and gazes up towards his destination a foreboding cliff-top castle perched high above the crashing waves. Thus the perfect Gothic scene is set for Pit and the Pendulum, the second of Roger Corman s celebrated Poe adaptations once again starring the ever-reliable Vincent Price (The Fall of the House of Usher, Theatre of Blood) alongside the bewitching Barbara Steele (Black Sunday).
Having learned of the sudden death of his sister Elizabeth (Steele), Francis Barnard (John Kerr) sets out to the castle of his brother-in-law, Nicholas Medina, to uncover the cause of her untimely demise. A distraught, grief-stricken Nicholas (Price) can offer only the vaguest explanations as to Elizabeth s death at first citing something in her blood , but later asserting that she quite literally died of fright . What sort of unspeakable horrors are buried within the walls of this castle that could cause one s heart to stop so? With Francis determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, the terrible truth will not stay buried for long.
Right from its brooding kaleidoscopic opening titles, Pit and Pendulum draws you into its world of cobwebs, secret passageways and dusty suits of armour. All the necessary elements are present and correct and, along with one of Vincent Price s most tortured performances, make Pit and the Pendulum every inch the Gothic melodrama.
- High Definition digital transfer
- Newly created exclusive content
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned
- Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film, archive content and more!
- More to be announced closer to the release date
The success of The Fall of the House of Usher
in 1960 spurred American International Pictures to quickly launch another production based on an Edgar Allan Poe story. While producer-director Roger Corman had hoped to next adapt "The Masque of the Red Death" (which wasn't produced until 1964), Pit and the Pendulum
(the on-screen title) became the second in AIP's long-running Poe series. Set in post-Inquisition Spain, the film stars John Kerr as a young Englishman who travels to the seaside castle of his brother-in-law (Vincent Price) to uncover the circumstances behind the death of his sister (a dubbed Barbara Steele). Price is tormented by memories of his mother's premature burial by his inquisitor father (also Price) and fears that this sadistic legacy has contributed to Steele's demise. Furthermore, he believes that Steele was also buried alive--a belief compounded by the mysterious destruction of her room, and the sound of her harpsichord playing in the night...
Structured almost identically to Usher
, Richard Matheson's script fleshes out the brief original text with a fast-paced and twist-filled plot that never loses sight of the psychological themes of Poe's work. It also provides Price with the richest of his many AIP/Poe roles, a sympathetic, deeply emotional man who is unhinged by the sins of his father. Corman's direction is equally driven and fluid, and features some impressive quasi-psychedelic visuals in the tense climax. Also noteworthy is art director's Daniel Haller's impressive design of the title set piece. --Paul Gaita, amazon.com
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