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3.7 out of 5 stars
30
3.7 out of 5 stars
The Pit and the Pendulum (1990) [DVD]
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on 6 August 2017
Great - thanks very much! Promptly delivered, specifications just as advertised and packed very properly.
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on 26 August 2011
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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on 29 May 2015
Sometime marketed under the title "The Inquisitor" this film exposes the Inquisition as a scheme by the church to redistribute the wealth to them. It correctly shows the immodest interrogation of suspected witches. The film centers around old religious debates that exist between Maria (Rona De Ricci) and her world run by the Inquisitor (Lance Henriksen). The film shows how the people relished in the torture of others.

The film was a well done "B" movie in costume, design, and direction. However the script left me a bit empty. If not for the constant stripping of Maria, I would have lost interest.

This film is available on an 8-pack I obtained from Walmart as part of their "Midnight Horror" collection.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, Full frontal nudity (Rona De Ricci)
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on 28 March 2012
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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on 21 May 2013
Sometime marketed under the title "The Inquisitor" this film exposes the Inquisition as a scheme by the church to redistribute the wealth to them. It correctly shows the immodest interrogation of suspected witches. The film centers around old religious debates that exist between Maria (Rona De Ricci) and her world run by the Inquisitor (Lance Henriksen). The film shows how the people relished in the torture of others.

The film was a well done "B" movie in costume, design, and direction. However the script left me a bit empty. If not for the constant stripping of Maria, I would have lost interest.

This film is available on an 8-pack I obtained from Walmart as part of their "Midnight Horror" collection.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, Full frontal nudity (Rona De Ricci)
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on 12 July 2014
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.

Written by Dennis Paoli, a breadmaker's wife, a highly principled girl feels the martyred need to finally voice the utter shamefulness at the flippancy with which the truly sick Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (sleekly played in the vilest way by horror fave Lance Henriksen) orders mass executions, public beatings, whippings and worse in his bizarre quest to purge all their souls of their temptation to sin. When she goes too far by expressing so as a young boy is flayed while watching his own parents get exterminated (an equally sick equivalent scene is remembered-and shown to us-recalled by a character in Gordon's ten year away masterpiece 'Dagon'), she is hauled up for high treason, thus dragging her nice husband along with her as with futility he tries to explain away her indignant protestations. Into Henriksen's lair they are dragged, yet while they're awaiting what's in store for them, this being a Stuart Gordon film, it may not be too much of a surprise to find the High Inquisitor quite taken with his subject, not that may halt his affectations for 'justice'.

Stuart Gordon's inspiration for the steadily teasing and necessarily brutish, though fun torture sequences, was his first to the Great Tower of London at some point in the early 80s, and swiftly said in a later documentary (possibly an extra on a new edition of this film in the future?) that nothing he could assemble on screen could touch just what atrocities and depravities an uncivilised society used to practice on each other daily, and he has a point, possibly letting himself in for accusations of watering down his own film with it, but gore hound should find enough sick to chew on here, and for anyone else, a churning sensation at least!

The sets are cheap, not especially stunning, and compares to his 80s offerings, a bit ramshackle and amateurish in moments. Jeffrey Combs is great fun as the scribe, leading the way into high camp at odd moments, and it's also interesting to see the only other adult survivor of 'Dolls' here in another role entirely. Oliver Reed doesn't seem to be quite all there, but Rona De Ricci is luscious as the lead-girl, and brave too considering she has to put with Barbara Crampton usually has to suffer on screen, but she doesn't match her in the acting stakes, but a huge improvement on 'Daughter Of Darkness's' wilting Mia Sara. There is a dream scene where an aged witch she shares a cell with tells her she will overcome her hell which borders on true embarrassment, and doesn't feel real, though for later purposes is needed. Maria's hubby is all-round good guy Antonio (Jonathan Fuller), intriguingly sidelines in bits, as his male-to-the-rescue runs out of gas before he intends it to, but a bigger shock than that, and knowing she may well have to rescue him instead, is knowing that this good-looking and genial guy is the monstrously deformed creature-man hidden under fantastical make-up in Gordon's enticing, disturbing and underrated next movie 'Castle Freak', which also returns Barbara Crampton to us.

'The Pit And The Pendulum' may feel dated, less showy and impervious to a mainstream now deluged with antisocial brats/A-listers forgetting their dead till the twist-ending/tiresome twits in masks/fake exorcisms and soup-stained mysteriously diseased biters weirdly beginning with Z instead of C (how must the 1961 version register then?), but this is one of the more important horror of the truly fallow first part of the 90s period, and probably inspired something like the Sean Bean 'Black Death' film of a few years back. For me, though it lacked the creature-feature monstrosities of 'From Beyond', corpse-fun of 'Re-Animator', fish-zombie followers of sea demon 'Dagon' and enchanted evil toys, the spell casting vibe for the greater good of 'Dolls' is present, and with everything else already mentioned, it's more than a reasonable success, and a huge up from that vampire mistake. The riveting tension created as that nasty Roger Corman blade swings nearer and nearer the stricken, several scenes involving a tongue, and a bullet-sized hole in the head used mainly to dig fingers in as a disciplinarian exercise are a nice touch (sorry) and worth £4.25 at the time, though I now regret it as it's now seen two different DVD releases, as well as a Blu-ray. All of which, I'm told, have the extras that this Full Moon Entertainment edition is completely exempt of. Picture quality is workable enough, but less said of the three trailers it suffers that merely remind you that some pitiful excuses for lens-work were never meant to go near someone of working grey matter, unless you absolutely deserved them to. It's times like this I can't help feeling there should be a law against such beyond ineptitude ill-jokes to horror having advertisment space on a copy of a cool movie made long before the student purveyors of such cack were even dropped on their head by mommy. Pit-i-ous.
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on 26 August 2011
So it may not have Vincent Price, but this remake is, to my mind, a great contender for the original's throne. Lance Henrikson acts his socks off, and Oliver Reed and Jeffrey Combs are fantastic too. The gore/ horror element is very well done and all in all it's a very enjoyable film. If you like Stuart Gordon's other films (Reanimator, Castle Freak, Dagon etc), then this is for you!
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on 27 September 2013
I like stuart Gordon films but would not say this is his best do you homework you will find some good ones
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on 17 December 2013
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. Fans of DOLLS will notice the aforementioned Lee and also Gordon's wife Carolyn Purdy Gordon, who played the bitch mother in DOLLS.

The DVD cover itself is a bit of a disgrace, omitting Henriksen's name for Reed just to bring the movie to peoples attention. Crass.

All in all Pit is enjoyable and a good movie, but it could have been something even more.
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on 28 October 2016
As a fan of his work on Reanimator, Dagon, Dreams in the Witch House and The Black Cat I was hoping this would be great, it's the worst pile of garbage you will ever see, second only to the the horrendous re-make of 'The Wicker Man'. Trying it's best to be shocking and gruesome and failing on all counts. Set in Spain, with hammy American actors in bad wigs, you wont believe that Stuart Gordon made this piece of trash. I'm 66 and seen nearly every horror film that counts and loads that dont, but this is so bad it beggers belief. Its going in the bin, and even if you are offered a copy for free I wouldn't bother, I'm just trying to do you a favour, save your money 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' is a masterpiece compaired to this, Stuart Gordon should be ashamed of himself. Terrible film.
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