Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Movie Title: Pit and the Pendulum

Year Released: 1961

Rated: Not Rated

Runtime: 1h 20min

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Director: Roger Corman

Writer: Richard Matheson (based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe)

Starring: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynette Bernay, Larry Turner, Mary Menzies, Charles Victor

Review: In the sixteenth century, Francis Barnard (John Kerr) travels to Spain to clarify the strange circumstances of his sister's death. Upon his arrival he sees his brother-in-law Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price) slowly unraveling due to his beloved's tragic death. Is Nicholas going crazy? Is he haunted by his wife's spirit? Or does he have skeletons in the closet desperate to get out and get their cruel revenge? Well, the only way to survive is to face... the Pit and the Pendulum!

This is director Roger Corman's second big screen adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe, arguably his most remembered, and it's the movie that cemented Vincent Price as the new "King of the Horror Films". With Richard Matheson's slick psychologically thrilling script, Corman tells a creepy, shocking tale of torture, revenge, and shocking revelations that will send shivers down your spine still after almost 60 years!

Price is genius as always as the guilt-ridden Nicholas. He suffers endlessly over the death of his wife, but soon learns of a few twists and turns that would make even the strongest man crack. The other brilliant bit of casting is Barbara Steele. She is superb as the Gothically gorgeous Elizabeth. Once the love of Nicholas, now a haunting reminder of true unspeakable horror. She's so good! Scary and beautiful - all at the same time!

The sets, score, costumes, and cinematography really add to the creepy mood of this one. They all work so well to keep you engaged and fearful of what might be around the corner waiting to jump out at you.

And the last act alone is so tense, frightening, and shocking that it makes Pit and the Pendulum worth a watch! If you're in the mood for cob-webbed castles, torture chambers, family secrets, mysterious plots, and Vincent Price treating Poe like Shakespeare, then sit back and beware because you can't escape the horrors of the Pit and the Pendulum.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Actor John Kerr was worried about being strapped down to the table with the pendulum above him for the movie's climax. In order to demonstrate that it was perfectly safe, director Roger Corman stood in for Kerr while the scene was being set up.


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