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Price, Corman and Matheson, Gothic splendour.,
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This review is from: The Pit And The Pendulum [DVD] (DVD)
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