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4.6 out of 5 stars
63
Pit and the Pendulum Steelbook [Blu-ray]
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on 5 September 2017
Most reviewers have picked up many aspects of the film concerning Corman's techniques and how one can do much cinematically with very little. It is a class above Hammer with very striking electronic music from Les Baxter and some intriguing mixtures of colours spreading like marbling patterns across the screen. Combined with a tight Richard Matheson script, the visual and oral contributions contribute to the atmosphere of foreboding which permeates the whole piece.

The film is based on Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum' without the spectacle of the walls heating up and closing in on the victim. Mr.Matheson has contrived a story which contained the essential frightening spectacle of the pendulum gradually being lowered so that the victim could judge how long it would take to be sliced in half. The screen story concerns the arrival of Francis Bonnard at the Spanish Castle of the Medina family. His sister,Elizabeth had died there and he wants to find out the circumstances of her death. He is very strong minded about this. He is introduced to Dona Medina,Nicholas' troubled sister, and it is she who escorts him to the place where Elizabeth is interred, bricked in behind a wall. On the tour round the bowels of the castle,the party meets Nicholas Medina,whose frightened face appears when he opens the door. Nicholas says that his wife died of something in the blood and it is a while before Nicholas tells Bonnard that Elizabeth became obsessed with the infamous story of the torture chamber; she would go down into the dungeons and look at the devices which tore, ripped and gouged the victims to painful and horrible deaths. The gentle Dona tells him also that, when he was a young boy,he went down into the chamber where his father, Sebastian had forbidden him to go. What he saw then unhinged him when his father accused his wife Catherine of adultery with his brother,Bartholome. This resulted in such filial and matrimonial dedication that both were killed. Dona said that Nicholas saw his mother tortured to death.

Into the mix comes Dr.Leon, who certified Elizabeth's death. He seems to be in control. According to Leon, it was the atmosphere of the place which eventually caused Elizabeth's decline and death. Barnard is not impressed. He said 'My sister was a wilful woman who would not be subject to atmospheres..' Soon after, Nicholas' voyage into madness begins. His name is called out in the corridors, Elizabeth's old room is smashed to pieces.There is the sound of harpsichord music played by the 'dead' Elizabeth?.Barnard finds a secret passage which led to Nicholas'room. Whilst cleaning Elizabeth's old room, the servant Maria thought she heard the voice of her mistress telling her to leave the room. Barnard thinks that Nicholas obsession has led him to haunt himself. Was Elizabeth actually dead when she was interred? This was quite a common occurrence in Poe. Leon suggests that Elizabeth should be exhumed ; the wall is breached, the tomb is opened and the shock of a skeleton trying to lift up the coffin lid is revealed. 'True! True! 'Nicholas cried and immediately tries to commit suicide. After that, he sat moribund in his chair until he is disturbed by his name being called apparently by his late wife. He followed the voice to the dungeon for the revelation.

This revelation involved Barnard being subject to the death via the pendulum which really brought out the best in Vincent Price in his final delusion that he is his father and that Bonnard is Bartholome. The chilling sight of the apparently victorious Elizabeth smiling a wicked rouged smile followed up by the apparently-dead Nicholas smiling too to re-enact the scene of the past described by Dona. . It really was a terrific final scene which had the capacity to chill one to the marrow.

There are some plot holes but these are overcome by the very pace of the film. Everything is inevitable. The hooded statues will forever see the victims of the pendulum in Hell, Gehenna, Tofit, the regions of the damned - the Pit and the Pendulum, 'trapped upon an island from which there is no escape'. Mr. Matheson became very lyrical about torture and death.
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on 18 October 2017
Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, Pit and the Pendulum reunites the legendary grandmaster of horror, Vincent Price with Director Roger Corman.

The son of the Spanish Inquisition's most notorious executioners, Don Medina (Price) is haunted by childhood memories of his father's horrific deeds which have driven him to the point of insanity.

In this terrifying macabre tale of betrayal, adultery, torture, depravity, deceit and insanity, Vincent Price gives a compelling great performance as mentally tortured Don Medina. There are good performances from the supporting cast that includes John Kerr (South Pacific) and legendary horror femme fatale, Barbara Steele (Mask of Satan ).

Thunderstorms, haunted gothic castles, torture chambers, secret passages - Pit and the Pendulum stands the test of time in its ability to chill and thrill. An unforgettable classic horror film.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 July 2012
Upon hearing of his sister Elizabeth's death, Francis Barnard travels to Spain to find out just exactly how she met her end. Arriving at the Medina castle, he finds the Medina family deeply suspicious characters and the castle itself a foreboding place harnessing a deadly past.

The Pit And The Pendulum is the second film in the series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that director Roger Corman tackled, it's also easily one of the best. Part horror, part dreamy thriller, and of course little dashes of humour, it all comes together so really very well. We open with a beach approach to the Medina castle, a big monolithic structure hulking on a cliff edge, we know from this moment on that unease is about to become our middle name. Once inside the castle it's evident that it is a major player in our story, roaring fireplaces and secret chambers all excellently framed by Corman and his team. A story of madness, deceit and sadistic ancestry then plays out to the full to make The Pit And The Pendulum one of the genres leading lights.

Enlisting the brilliant Richard Matheson to flesh out, and extend the Poe short story, the final result is close to being a Gothic masterpiece. Corman again uses Vincent Price as his leading man and he's rewarded with a quite delicious performance from the big man, camp and burgeoning madness going hand in hand like they were always meant to be a team. The rest of the cast are naturally trailing in the shadow of Price's greatness, but a noteworthy mention must go to the good work from Barbara Steele as Elizabeth. Floyd Crosby is again on board for cinematography duties, beautifully realising the lush colour and the doom laden feel of the Medina castle. Corman himself puts in some of his best work here, brilliant use of the camera really adds to the creeping unease that flows within the piece, a stunning POV victim sequence of the pendulum of the title is just one of the many technical highlights on show.

A truly smashing and creepy film. 8/10
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2013
Roger Corman films of this era always seem to follow a similar path. However the pit and the pendulum had such an intriguing story that i think others (like the fall of the house of usher) didn't quite have. People always use the phrase 'Price hams it up' when describing Vincent Price's various portrayals of troubled men. However I always felt this did a disservice to Price's acting as he always drew the viewer in to his creepy, trouble persona without feeling he was, so called, 'ham acting'. The pit and the pendulum offers a tale of betrayal and has a neat twist at the end. It reminds me of house on haunted hill as it's got a great story to go with all the spooks and creepiness. I also like that Barbara Steele is in it as I really loved her performance in Black Sabbath and it's no less effective here (even if, sadly, she has been dubbed again). It's a great one for Halloween.
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on 5 March 2015
Excellent service arrived Thursday, to day, the film speaks for itself, I remember watching all these movies at the cinema and going terrified, now I know that they are still available I will get some more, and eventually the Peter Cushing Dracula but at the price it may be sometime as a pensioner now have to watch the pennies.
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on 18 February 2010
Champion of a cinema cheaper, able to manage the low-budget and to match the pure kind of culture is not trivial to subpoenas, Roger Corman is a special case in American cinema that has inspired with his talent and his strength production, several directors from the generation of Spielberg, Coppola and Scorsese already in ¹. His adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe, initially taken very seriously, are now considered classics of children to be taken for example. "The Pit and the Pendulum," from a very famous story of the author of "The Black Cat", is a quick and fun horror movie that lives, due to the great Vincent Price, which crowned the irony of holding star such an era, the English Barbara Steele: good insights spectacular, the pace of narration and screenplay ,the film is a pleasant sight and square sophisticated than has been assessed at the time of removal. Wonderful, no special effects, without retouching virtual short acting and above all true Gothic setting realistic as anybody like.
Only that little suspense,necessary To tell the truth, if not the end.
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on 24 November 2016
The item came really fast, in perfect condition.Everything is as described. The story is great - real classic gotic horror,picture quality is perfect.100 % entertainment.The Steelbook Blu-ray looks beautiful.The price is cheap so, don't hesitate - BUY IT NOW!
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on 22 April 2017
A classic Vincent price , great way to spend a night in .
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on 22 December 2017
Hi thanks for the tape nice conditionandpostwas verygood Gerald to
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on 29 August 2016
Excellent Blu-ray transfer of this Corman/Price classic. Looks as good as when I saw it in the theater, many years ago.
The print used looks very clean, and it doesnt have the dreadfull playback glitch that the American DVD has.
Also, looks like digital edge enhancement has been kept to a minimum, so the image looks very natural and film-like.
I am very happy to finally have such a beautiful transfer of this film.
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