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Pit And The Pendulum [1990] [DVD]

3.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Lance Henriksen, Stephen Lee, William J. Norris, Mark Margolis, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
  • Directors: Stuart Gordon
  • Writers: Dennis Paoli, Edgar Allan Poe
  • Producers: Albert Band, Charles Band, Michael Catalano
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Film 2000
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Sept. 2003
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JY4Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,079 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror tale, set during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. When the beautiful Maria (Rona de Ricci) cries out in horror at the public torture of a child carried out by the inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen), she is immediately arrested herself and held under suspicion of witchcraft. Her husband Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) then races to save her, as the evil Torquemada begins preparing a special, personal punishment for his latest victim.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Although I yield to no one in my admiration for the great Vincent Price, and for the fine movies he made with Corman, I have to say that this film is at least equal to the Price/Corman original. The opening credits are seen against a background of Breughel's "Triumph of Death", and the movie manages to achieve a truly Breughelesque atmosphere--down to a few coarse jokes which the Flemish master would have relished. Research has been done: the soldiers' armour and weapons are in period, as are the civilians' clothes. Lance Henriksen is truly terrifying as (a highly fictionalised) Torquemada; Ollie Reed, then sadly quite near the end of his life, has an effective cameo. There is something for everyone: torture and execution, gore in plenty, decently choreographed fights, female nudity. It doesn't owe much to Poe (although Reed's fate echoes another Poe tale), but is altogether a handsome and satisfying yarn.
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God, i love this movie. The opening scene is a hoot and i've had many enjoyable evenings that have been capped off by watching this film. Rona de Ricci is HOT, Oliver Reed has a silly accent, the legendary Jeffrey Combs is well, Jeffrey Combs and Lance (Bishop) Henriksen gives a brilliantly menacing performance as Torquemada. What's not to like!! The new DVD version is really well put together with plenty of extras and an intriguing "trailer park" full of the best and the weirdest full moon trailers. The picture and sound are more than upto snuff too. Recommended!
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After horror king Stuart Gordon dealt out a horror trilogy for all others to pale by between 1985-1987, he then made the same mistake the much feted John Carpenter did-with both brazenly entering the vampire genre, instantly displaying an embarrassing absence of mastery and understanding of it, and both ended up on the business end of a sharp deserved stake. It really was a toss-up to see who fared worse-it was probably Carpenter; with a slavish devotion to old Romero films, David Cronenberg body horror and an apparent alien-subplot, it was a complete mishmash of everything but a vampire flick, but one expects much from the far better Stuart Gordon, who is much more my chalice of blood, being from that proper 80s horror school of variety, but his result unfolded with all the snap of a drunken snail-race and ended up a plastic soap opera, utterly wasting Anthony Perkins in one of his last roles. This thing was purported to have come from 1987, and maybe it did, but it was released to TV, after Gordon turned briefly to a scarily pre-'Transformers' sci-fi tale 'Robot Jox'. Thankfully, after both these things, Gordon returned to far better material he could immediately assert mastery of-his version of the Edgar Allen Poe tale here being the first.

And it owes very little to Poe at all, is a full torture chamber ahead of the old Vincent Price version, and as I care little about that first movie, I've no problem recommending this far above it. That's not to say it's an easy watch, it's nasty, black-humoured, descends into high camp in moments of random abandon, sick-inducing for the middling of stomach and should induce much tightening of limbs and grimaces of observational pain-but all that means is Stuart is back to doing the day job and long may its blood and guts run.
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Stuart Gordon's The Pit and the Pendulum was THIS CLOSE to being some kind of horror masterpiece. Lead by the superb Lance Henriksen who gives one of his most damning, horrifying and beautiful performances as a man possessed by his own conceived religion. However the film is at odds with itself, and this i'm afraid is its undoing. His workers spoof the film up, but they do it way too much. Enter Stephen Lee, who in Gordon's DOLLS shone, but here less so. The excellent Jeffrey Combs hams it up too much also. Indeed the film doesn't really know what it wants to be- you have some of the most gorey violent images and brutalness you could wish to see- but the next scene goes all spoofy like. It makes little sense.

Rona De Ricci plays Maria the lead female who Henriksen is fascinated with- we see her full frontal on a number of occasions. This was her last film, where did she go? Is she still alive? Any info would be greatly apprecaited. She's very good in the film, but her husband who is also captured isn't. How many lives can one man get? He makes fools of the guards and of the viewer- there's only so many tricks....

But onto the positives because there are positives. The script especially Henriksens lines are great- the torture violence is well executed, pardon the pun. And there is a nightmarish atmosphere about it all. But it's a shame that Gordon couldn't recapture some of the original movie's atmosphere. All he has done has made a pumped up gore version- which is all good and well, I just wish he had left the jokes aside and made this more bleak. Still Henrisksen tries his best to recitfy that. Watch out for a tiny cameo from Oliver Reed- it's great but biink and you may miss it.
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This is just an OK film. Lance Henriksen is good as Torquemada, and Rona de Ricci both lovely and suitably vulnerable as a woman unjustly accused.
It was spoiled for me however by the terrible script which grated on me as being both weirdly anachronistic and filled with puerile stabs at humour.
Could not the actors have tried to aspire to a common accent?.
Here we have a spectacular array on offer. For example the drama obviously plays out in Spain but the castle guard sounds like he's be more at home driving a cab in the Bronx.
To me this is just lazy,as a lot of effort went into period reconstruction and set design.
Additionally, this does not have much to do with Poe if that is what you're expecting, other than the titular pendulum.
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