THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM
Roger Corman and Vincent Price brought the works of Edgar Allen Poe to life in a series of low budgeted campy horror flicks that are classics of the genre. In the Pit and The Pendulum, Price portrays Nicholas Medina, the son of the most feared inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. His wife (Barbara Steele) "died" suddenly after a brief yet intense infatuation with the tolls of her father in laws' trade. When her brother shows up to determine the actual cause of her demise, he is greeted by Nicholas' sister (Luana Anders) who attempts to identify the circumstances surrounding his sister's death. Unwilling to take her word for it, he demands to speak to Nicholas whose mental health, which was always fragile, is hanging by the thinnest of threads. The Doctor who pronounced the death appears at the home and Nicholas takes them all on a tour of his father's "office" in the bowels of their decaying castle in an attempt to explain to them the gravity of his father's work on the mind of his now dead wife. As with all horror tales, the truth is never that obvious and it appears that Nicholas's wife and the Doctor have indeed conspired to drive Nicholas mad by faking her death and returning as a specter to force him over the brink of sanity. They had no idea what they were getting into. Nicholas suffered mental anguish at the hands of his father and that long repressed horror will manifest itself in a most terrifying way given their intense mental torture. The Pit and The Pendulum is a masterpiece of gothic horror that has no equals. There was/is nothing that could equal the force of both acting and directing prowess leveled when Vincent Price took the stage under the direction of Roger Corman. Long thought the father of B-Cinema, Corman struck pay dirt in an association with American International Pictures and Producers James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. There are no better gothic features than those presented during this partnership…period.
The audio for the feature is presented in a Mono platform that could have been better. It's very tinny and tight sounding. Given that it's a mono platform that's wholly expected. The real gem of the audio track is the film's Commentary track provided by the master himself, Roger Corman. The commentary track is akin to Movie making 101. Corman identifies differing camera angles, his use of wide angle lenses and his desires to fill the entire scene with as much stuff as possible. It's quite an entertaining track and it's much like an evening at home in front of a warm fire in a comfy blanket with a friend. Great track.
The video is a beautifully rendered widescreen presentation that has its fair share of scratches and hairs and flecks. But on the whole, the image is incredibly well detailed and very well preserved. The colors are rich and well saturated and the fleshtones were thematically pallid. In short a great transfer as well.
The only extra on the disc is the film's trailer.
Nobody, and I mean nobody could deliver a performance like Vincent Price. These films are so over the top that they create an absolutely fabulous gothic horror experience. Aptly titled "Midnite Movies", I remember watching this on the now defunct Saturday Night Dead in Philadelphia many, many years ago. Warm feelings abound and nothing but nostalgia and great chills and thrills are the result of my watching this film.
Vincent Price and Roger Corman coupled with great Matte shots and overacting of the highest caliber equal an excellent and horrific visit to the mind of one of the greatest literary minds of the 19th century.