Francis Barnard goes to Spain, when he hears his sister Elizabeth has died. Her husband Nicholas Medina, the son of the brutest torturer of the Spanish Inquisition, tells him she has died of a blood disease, but Francis finds this hard to believe. After some investigating he finds out that it was extreme fear that was fatal to his sister and that she may have been buried alive! Strange things then start to happen in the Medina castle. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
The film never had an original prologue. It was added when the film was sold to TV and a further few minutes were required to pad out the running time. Only Luana Anders from the original cast was available so an extra scene of her in a madhouse was filmed and tacked on to the beginning. This scene does not really tie in with the rest of the film. See more »
The story takes place in 1545, as indicated by the date on Elizabeth's tomb, however in the background in one scene a grandfather, or longcase, clock can be seen. The longcase clock was not developed until 1670. See more »
Roger Corman's "Pit and the Pendulum" is simply put one of the greatest genre efforts ever made! This is horror in its purest form with a compelling screenplay, a constant high-tension level and sublime acting performances by a very devoted cast. Roger Corman and Richard Matheson brilliantly continue their ode to Edgar Allan Poe after the fantastic "House of Usher" with this spooky and uniquely Gothic masterpiece centering on the Medina family. The amazing Mr. Price stars as the tormented Nicolas Medina, a soul torn apart by the fear that his beautiful wife was entombed alive after a frightening acquaintance with the family's vile Inquisition background. The brother of the late beauty travels to the ominous Medina castle and witnesses how insanity and rage slowly comes over Nicolas Medina as he's the victim of betrayal, conspiracies and ghosts from the past. "Pit and the Pendulum" is a beautiful film that'll impressive you with it's genuine scares and unsettling atmosphere. The photography is astonishing (with a great use of color shades throughout the film) and the scenery made my flesh creep (that pendulum!!). Vincent Price was unquestionably born to play the emotionally devastated Poe-protagonists. Exactly like he gave image to Roderick Usher in "the House of..." he portrays Nicolas as a weak romanticist, helplessly awaiting his merciless fade. Opposed to him stands the ravishing Barbara Steele who also embodies Poe's typical female character: Godly...but fiendish and without faith or loyalty. One of the slight minor points in this film was that I initially hoped to see more Steele screen time. Her role is modest, but remarkable and an excellent successor for her career-highlight "Black Sunday". Every film in Roger Corman's Poe-cycle is terrific and probably receives more praise from me than any other horror film, but then still this entry is the most marvelous, alongside the 1964's "Masque of the Red Death". This film is a feast for all senses and not one self-respecting horror fan can afford to miss it!
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