The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
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PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961) *** ½

After the success of The Fall of the House of Usher, director Roger Corman, screenwriter Richard Matheson and star Vincent Price re-teamed for another classic adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story.

 

After the death of his sister, Francis (John Kerr) comes calling on her husband, Don Medina (Price) for some answers.  Medina reluctantly tells him that she became increasingly obsessed with his grandfather’s torture chamber and eventually locked herself up in an iron maiden and took her own life.  When her “ghost” starts haunting the castle, it drives Medina positively bonkers and soon enough, he’s dusting off his grandpa’s torture equipment and sticking his houseguests into his horrific contraptions.

 

Kerr is rather annoying and abrasive, but Price is marvelous playing a subtle variation on his patented tormented nobleman routine.  And then there is Barbara Steele as Medina’s supposedly dead wife.  Seriously has there ever been a hotter chick ever seen on celluloid?  (Jane Fonda is a close second in Barbarella.)  Her role is smallish but I’ll be damned if she wasn’t fucking me with those magnificent eyes of hers the whole time she was on screen.

 

Corman offers up loads of atmosphere and the distorted red and purple tinted flashbacks are excellent.  Although the film takes it’s time to get going, the payoff is more than worthwhile as the torture chamber finale is some of Corman’s best work.  The pendulum sequence is especially memorable and the final shot is a doozy.

 

Corman returned the next year (without Price) for another Poe adaptation, Premature Burial.

Tags: horror, p, roger corman, vincent price
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