Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Poster

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Vincent Price is wonderful!!
oguer2265630 December 1999
I just recently "discovered" the "Pit and the Pendulum" after a friend recommended it. I watched the video on a dark and windy night and I was absolutely chilled! It was wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully filmed, and the suspense kept mounting right up until the climatic end. >

Vincent Price was terrific, bringing such sympathy to this role. I think any other actor would have easily been over the top, but Price keeps it in check. John Kerr was properly aggressive as the over wrought brother and the other actors were just as impressive.

This type of movie making just confirms to me that you don't need a shameless amount of blood and guts to be terrified. I know I'm going to have a grand old time checking out Price's other movies!
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One of the spookiest and most frightening of the Roger Corman Poe adaptations. A must see for all horror buffs.
Infofreak12 January 2003
'Pit And The Pendulum' sees b-grade legend Roger Corman ('Little Shop Of Horrors'), talented suspense writer Richard Matheson ('The Incredible Shrinking Man'), and horror master Vincent Price ('The Tingler') try and recreate the success of their first Poe adaptation 'House Of Usher'. And they do so admirably, '... Pendulum' being even better than the excellent '... Usher'. Matheson cleverly expands upon Poe's original tale by also mixing in elements from the earlier movie, 'The Premature Burial' and other Poe classics. John Kerr is the one weak link in this first rate thriller. An actor I'm not familiar with, he is dull and not all that good. Much better is Antony Carbone (who Corman fans will recognize from 'A Bucket Of Blood') as Price's doctor pal, and the underrated Luana Anders ('Dementia 13', 'Easy Rider') as Price's sister. Price himself is wonderful as usual as the tormented Don Medina, and an added bonus is the appearance of enduring cult figure, and one of the most beautiful actresses in movie history, Barbara Steele ('Black Sunday', 'Shivers'). Steele doesn't get as much screen time as one would wish but it's a joy to see her work alongside Price, sadly their only movie together. 'Pit And The Pendulum' is one of Corman's best horror movies, and one that will surprise many viewers today with just how atmospheric and creepy it still is. An extremely underrated film (as are Corman's other 60s Poe adaptations), and one that is a must see for all horror buffs. Highly recommended.
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Perhaps the finest Corman & Price collaboration.
Snake-66624 December 2005
Following the sudden death of his sister, Francis Barnard (John Kerr) travels to Spain to question her husband, Don Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price), son of a notoriously barbaric Inquisitor. Medina openly mourns the death of his wife but Barnard is unconvinced by his story and is determined to discover the truth.

Proceeding from 'The Fall of the House of Usher' (1960), director Roger Corman's second film in his now-famous cycle of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations was this delightfully lurid and lavish offering that can at once be both repugnant and resplendent. 'Pit and the Pendulum' is a uniquely and profoundly visual experience. Dazzling colour and abhorrent darkness coalesce to invoke the most unpleasant aura of trepidation. The luxuriant cinematography of Floyd D. Crosby coupled with the artistic eye of Corman merge eminently, ensuring that mood and atmosphere remain constant and that the viewer feels the agony of the events depicted on-screen. Furthermore, Richard Matheson's screenplay is both intelligent and eloquent and Corman makes full use of what he is gifted here. The pacing of the film is superb, constantly moving onwards, never lingering too long and remaining thoroughly enthralling throughout. Truly this film is perfect in presentation and direction.

Sadly, there are imperfections in the performances of the cast, most notably John Kerr whose continually wooden, dull and tepid acting is too explicit for a leading role. Similarly, while the linguistical talents of Vincent Price lend themselves to an almost Shakespearean delivery of his lines, he occasionally allows himself to sink into ham-acting which detracts somewhat from the more serious nature of the film. However, minus these minor distractions, the performances of the cast are more than adequate to support what is in essence a strongly visceral experience. Luanne Anders and Anthony Carbone offer masterful performances in their supporting roles and cult-favourite, Barbara Steele, makes short appearances as Medina's deceased wife.

If the Corman/Price collaborations are to horror what the Scorsese/De Niro collaborations be to drama then this may well be Corman's 'Goodfellas'. A sublime entry into the genre that offers numerous thrills and chills, inherent beauty and one of the strongest screenplays to grace Sixties horror cinema. What few flaws that there are cannot truly undermine the hard work that went into making this magnificent horror film.
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Another great Gothic horror!
Right after the success of "House of Usher", director Roger Corman wanted to make another adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Masque of the Red Death", however, he felt that it was not the time for that project and decided to make the short story "Pit and the Pendulum". Reunited with Vincent Price and most of the crew of his previous film, Corman crafted another brilliant entry in the Gothic horror sub genre and a film that proved that the praise for "House of Usher" was well-deserved and not a mere lucky strike.

The plot follows Englishman Francis Barnard (John Kerr) on his trip to Spain as he has received news of the death of his beloved sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). At his arrival, he is informed by Elizabeth's widower, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price), that she died of a strange blood disease, but strange events begin to happen and both men will discover the strange mystery hidden behind the walls of Medina's castle.

Written by frequent collaborator Richard Matheson, the film is not really a faithful adaptation, it is a cleverly written story that fuses many different Poe's short stories in one. The story unfolds nicely and as in the previous film, the characters are the film's soul. Matheson perfectly forms the bonds and relationships between them and none is left without a time to shine. The mystery of Elizabeth's death and Medina's castle is very well-handled and the unexpected climax is a classic horror moment. Once again Matheson delivers a terrific script that captures Poe's obsession with ancient buildings and Gothic settings.

Despite the low-budget, Roger Corman manage to surpass what he achieved in "House of Usher" taking care in every little detail, with the lavish sets and gorgeous cinematography making the film look as beautiful as a canvas. The films of the so-called "Poe cycle" are almost always labeled as his best and not without a reason, as they prove that Corman was not a mere director of low-grade cheap films. He was truly a daring and inventive artist and this film remains as one of his most powerful masterpieces.

The cast this time is superb, with Vincent Price taking the lead role with great talent and powerful presence. With ease he can go from melodrama to utter horror and his melancholic over-the-top melodrama was right at home in Poe's adaptations. John Kerr makes a terrific counterpart and his performance is very believable. As a stranger in a strange-land, his character brings balance to the film and Kerr makes the most of it. The beautiful ladies Barbara Steel and Luana Anders show off not only their beauty, but also their talent. Steel's aura of mystery suits perfectly the atmospheric horror of the film and Anders displays her talent for melodrama.

The film is near perfect and a great joy to watch. Never dull nor boring, the film captures the Gothic horror of Poe's stories and gives them homage in a grandiose way. A big improvement over the first of Corman's "Poe films", it's hard to find a flaw in it as nearly everything is its right place. From Price's on-screen presence to the wonderful sets, "Pit and the Pendulum" is a masterpiece of low-budget film-making, a movie that looks even better than most of the big studios productions.

"Pit and the Pendulum" proved to be up to its reputation and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Personally, the discovery of this gems has drastically changed my idea of Roger Corman's work, as this group of films prove that this man is a serious artist who knew how to make a movie that was an economic and a artistic success. This film is another great Gothic horror treasure. 8/10
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Magnificent Gothic horror masterpiece!
The_Void31 December 2004
From horror's premier team of Roger Corman, Vincent Price and, of course, Edgar Allen Poe comes this menacing, macabre and suspenseful tale of insanity, death and betrayal. This film is certainly one of, but maybe even 'the' finest Corman-Poe film. It's Poe at his most devilishly malicious as it deals with themes of torture, and the most frightening method of death known to man; being buried alive. As usual, Vincent Price takes the lead role as the tortured soul of the piece, this time playing Nicholas Medina; the son of the Spanish inquisition's most notorious torturer. All is not well for Nicholas, as his beloved bride, Elizabeth, has killed himself and the notion that she may have been buried alive has tortured the torturer's son to the brink of insanity. We enter the fray as Elizabeth's brother comes to the castle in search of answers to discover the fate of his sister...

Through a great Gothic atmosphere and gorgeous lavish sets, Roger Corman has created a macabre masterpiece from Poe's classic tale. Vincent Price is superb (again!) as the almost insane son of a madman. As usual, he captures the essence of his character and through his stark tone that was made for the horror genre; and he gets his portrayal spot on. Horror fans can thank god that Vincent Price decided to become an actor, as any other actor simply couldn't have pulled off this performance like Price did (as is the case with most of Price's resume). Price is joined by Barbara Steele (of Mario Bava's Black Sunday) and a small cast of unknowns. Steele, unfortunately, doesn't get a lot of screen time and it's a shame because seeing her and price on screen together more would have been a treat.

The theme of being buried alive is something that appears to have fascinated Edgar Allen Poe as it appears in a number of his stories and it fascinates me also. It's impossible to imagine the terror of being alone in an enclosed space with nobody or nothing to help you escape and that's what makes it so horrifying, and such a great springboard for a Gothic horror film. This film makes the best of that, with Price's brooding adding all the horror that the subject needs. Corman succeeds in making the subject dreadful as well, as he shows the tomb in which the unfortunate young lady was trapped in, and also through the castle's many corridors and steel doors; it gives the impression that there truly is no escape. The film's flagship sequence - the pendulum scene - is a true masterpiece of horror imagery. For the scene, Corman took out every other frame to give the impression that the pendulum was swinging faster than it actually was. The way the pendulum swings across and gets lower every time depicts another horrible way to die, and through his portrayal of the scene; Corman makes the best of it. The story itself is brilliant, soaked with irony and the bitterness of revenge; it truly is one of Poe's best.

I don't need to say it, but I will anyway; see this movie!
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Once upon a time in Spain...
Lee Eisenberg14 August 2005
One of the many horror flicks that entertained America's moviegoers in the early '60s, "Pit and the Pendulum" has all that anyone could ask for. In the story, young Francis Barnard (John Kerr) goes to an evil-looking castle on the Spanish coast to investigate the death of his sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). Her husband Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price), the son of an inquisitor, has been driven insane by her death. But some questions remain: did she really die? And what's really the deal with Nicholas? Of course, the movie's real star ends up being the pendulum. Razor-sharp and menacing as can be, it is one mean mother. Overall, what's particularly neat about this movie is the fact that for a long time, it seems like there's nothing to see...and then they catch you. Everyone likes a Vincent Price movie, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who might easily die of fright. It's that good!
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One of the Best Roger Corman's Movies
Claudio Carvalho6 February 2014
After the mysterious death of Elizabeth Barnard Medina (Barbara Steele), her brother Francis Barnard (John Kerr) travels from London to Spain and without previous notice he arrives at the castle of her husband Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price). He is received by Nicholas' sister Catherine Medina (Luana Anders) that invites Francis to have dinner with her brother and her.

Francis learns that their father Sebastian Medina was a cruel torturer of the Spanish Inquisition and Nicholas is a traumatized man that has witnessed the murder of his uncle Bartolome (Charles Victor) and his adulterer mother Isabella (Mary Menzies) being tortured and killed by his father when he was a kid. During the dinner, the family's friend Doctor Charles Leon (Antony Carbone) unexpectedly arrives and Francis discovers that his sister died of heart attack after visiting the torture chamber in the dungeons. Soon the place is haunted by strange events and Nicholas suspects of his servants Maximillian (Patrick Westwood) and Maria (Lynette Bernay) but Francis is convinced that Nicholas is the responsible for the death of his sister.

"Pit and the Pendulum" is one of the best Roger Corman's movies despite the poor scenario that shakes in many scenes. The last time that I saw this movie was on 16 November 1999 on cable television and today I have just watched it again on DVD. The creepy story of Edgar Allan Poe is still engaging even when the viewer watches more than two times. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Mansão do Terror" ("The Manor of Horror")
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A masterpiece of Gothic horror!
HumanoidOfFlesh29 May 2003
"The Pit and the Pendulum" is the second of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe's adaptations with a screenplay by Richard Matheson.Vincent Price's performance is an obvious highlight of the film.Legendary horror actresses Luana Anders("Dementia 13")and Barbara Steele("Shivers","Silent Scream","Black Sunday")co-star in this extremely atmospheric chiller.To sum up,"The Pit and the Pendulum" is one of Roger Corman's finest offerings-it's creepy,unsettling and extremely entertaining.A masterpiece that easily gets 10 out of 10!
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A nearly perfect horror film
Coventry23 April 2005
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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Terrific Mystery-Horror Classic
Rainey Dawn15 December 2014
Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum' - it's been a long time since I have seen it - I recalled bits and pieces of the film and remembered it was good, then I re-watched the film recently and I have to say "It really is a terrific mystery-horror classic!" It's even better than I recalled it to be.

Vincent Price is outstanding (as usual) as Nicholas Medina - the tormented soul who witnessed the fact his parents had a dark secret as a child of 10. I cannot say more or I will ruin the film for first time viewers.

I must mention the costuming, sets and over all atmosphere - they all are gorgeous! The film feels like a Gothic period piece as it should.

The movie is well worth watching if you enjoy Price's films, Poe's stories/poems and a good classic mystery-horror.

What an ending! What I recalled most vividly about the movie was in fact the pit and the pendulum. That pendulum is unforgettable!! 9.5/10
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Corman should be truly proud
tomgillespie200224 April 2014
Coming second, after The Fall of the House Of Usher (1960), in Roger Corman's six-film series of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations (all but one starring Vincent Price), The Pit and the Pendulum is possibly Corman's greatest film as a director. Shot with a lush, atmospheric mood, Pendulum faces the task of stretching a two-page short story into a credible, 90-minute movie. Working with I Am Legend author Richard Matheson, who helms the script, the film retains the psychological trip of Poe's original, while creating an interesting and ironic plot surrounding a very small group of characters that leads us to Poe's famous pendulum.

In 16th century Spain, Francis Barnard (John Kerr) arrives at his brother-in-law's mansion to investigate the unclear and mysterious death of his sister Elizabeth (Black Sunday's (1960) Barbara Steele). Seemingly overcome with grief, Elizabeth's widower Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price) tells Francis that Elizabeth died of heart failure. Francis, however, seems unable to accept this and insists that he stay until he knows the truth. With the arrival of the family physician Doctor Leon (Antony Cabone), Francis slowly unravels the story of the 'heavy atmosphere' of the castle and the torture devices in the chamber, previously owned by Nicholas' father, a notorious torturer in the Spanish Inquisition.

Made for just $30,000, the film looks remarkable and the set design is a suitable mixture of the elegant and the grim. The movie noticeably lacks out-and-out scares, and opts for a more thoughtful, psychological approach. You could even go so far as to name the movie a period piece rather than a horror. Although his toes may creep over the ham line occasionally, the film is dominated by the presence of Vincent Price, who delivers a rather hypnotic performance, flicking between creepy, tormented and simply bat-s**t crazy, with relative ease. The only real complaint about the film is the performance of John Kerr, who, although a promising leading man in the 50's, delivers a one-note, forgettable performance, but that is forgivable in a movie so rich in beauty. Corman should be truly proud.

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Impressive Poe adaption from AIP
Red-Barracuda27 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Like most Edgar Allan Poe adaptions, The Pit and the Pendulum only the barely resembles the original text. But if you have read any Poe you could hardly be surprised by this seeing as his stories were very short and had very limited plot-lines. They were more a case of a single horrible idea with a small amount of story surrounding it. In this case, the screenplay was adapted by Richard Matheson who was the writer famous for the novel 'I Am Legend'. He does a good job of fleshing out the story, adding more interesting detail while still incorporating the central idea. It's not until the excellent finale that we really see the material taken from the book but it's well worth the wait as the ending is very strong both in terms of suspense and visual artistry.

On the whole, for a low budget movie this looks quite sumptuous. It's consistently nice to look at with great use of colour, including some monochrome flash-back scenes. The sets, costumes and quality of actors are of a high standard. In this sense, it mimics the approach of the Hammer films, whose low budget Gothic horror films similarly had a very polished feel on a similarly low budget. I guess director/producer Roger Corman was intentionally aiming for this and he himself directed a further handful of Poe adaptions for his company AIP; all of which followed the same basic template and were equally impressive productions on a small budget. Of course, it is never going to hurt a film to have Vincent Price on board. He always delivers quality in my opinion and here is no different. He is especially good in the final third once he goes insane and believes himself to be a reincarnation of his infamous father, a notorious torturer from the Spanish Inquisition. Additionally, it can also never hurt a film to have Barbara Steele in it either. She was the queen of 60's Gothic horror and starred in a number of productions. In this one she only has a small role but it's very important and memorable.

It's probably a movie that is best defined by its excellent ending though. The first two-thirds build up the tension and intrigue but events spiral to a crescendo in the final third. It's really once we meet the terrifying wonder that is the pit and the pendulum that the movie moves into iconic status. Overall, this is certainly one of the best examples of 60's Gothic horror.
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Another Winner from Corman and Price
Scars_Remain19 January 2008
It certainly is true that they don't make them like they used to. I was blown away by this movie and I think it really does Poe's novel justice. We can only hope that, somehow, movie makers will start to go back to the older styles.

Vincent Price does a stellar job as the quiet, yet very creepy Nicholas Medina. There are also great performances from all the rest of the cast. Roger Corman truly knew what he was doing when it came to making movies and adapting Poe's stories to film. This is no exception whatsoever.

Anyone who has enjoyed House of Usher, Twice Told Tales, or any other Price/Corman adaptation will find a place in their heart for this film. G check it out already.
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Pit and Pendulum
Scarecrow-8813 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A nobleman from England, Francis(John Kerr)comes to an old castle once occupied by a torturer of the Spanish Inquisition, now lived in by his son Nicholas(Vincent Price). Francis is at the castle to find out about how his sister, Elizabeth(Barbara Steele)died and to visit her final resting place. It seems that Francis was informed of his sister's death months after the fact. Nicholas is still grieving in his heart over his wife's untimely demise, but seems to be hiding something and Francis is too intuitive a fellow not to notice. Nicholas tells Francis that his sister died of a "blood illness", but once her attending physician arrives, Doctor Leon(Antony Carbone), he says otherwise. Leon tells Francis that his sister died of shocking fright with her heart stopping. There is a torture chamber in the castle once used readily by Nicholas' father Sebastian and he believes that the malignant, benevolent atmosphere took hold of Elizabeth eventually killing her. Nicholas is ashamed and burdened by his father's..and the castle's..past. Before the moment Elizabeth died, she uttered the name Sebastian for which shook poor Nicholas' fragile state to the core. Early in Nicholas' young life(..when he was merely 10 years old)he curiously made his way into father's torture chamber. Hiding in a dark corner when his father enters in with his mother and uncle, young Nicholas witnesses a horrifying sight it has haunted him since. But,to add to Nicholas' misery is some freaky occurrences which offer the possibility that Elizabeth's ghost has manifested itself within the house. Harpsicord playing(her specialty), her voice heard by the maid who was cleaning, Liz's room ram shackled after much noise, etc. Soon, Nicholas will hear his name being beckoned by the voice he believes to be Elizabeth's. But, what Nicholas doesn't know is that there is more than meets the eye and his mental state, which has been severely torn apart slowly over a tormented time, might not can take it. The pendulum sequence when Nicholas has been lost and another identity/personality takes his place placing poor Francis in certain peril is incredibly tense and accomplished with craftsman skill.

Corman's lavish, flavorful sets and unique use of color only add to the overall effect of the film. I love how Corman orchestrates flashback sequences. He closes the camera's eye in on a character retelling a past occurrence. The eye opens on the memory as Corman, acknowledging to us that it is of a different time, tints the screen a unique cloudy blue. The film has atmosphere to spare and Price & company are fun to watch. I love the twist at the end, but the pendulum sequence(as I already mentioned above)is the real knock-out of the film. I'd say TPatP has one of the greatest final 20 minutes in horror history. In my opinion, it just doesn't get much better than this.
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Matheson's medley
dbdumonteil19 July 2002
The movie adapted from Edgar Allan Poe is par excellence a movie made up of sketches:for instance ,"tre passi nel delirio"(Fellini,Malle,Vadim,1968) encompassed three short stories.

The problem with Edgar Poe's short stories lies in the fact that they are...short!Here Richard Matheson double-jumped his contemporaries by combining elements from several Poe stories in a single classy film. Some kind of" the writer's greatest hits " so to speak.

The beloved late wife subject directly comes from "Morella" which will be filmed by Corman in "tales of terror" the following year.The doomed house which is slowly sinking down recalls "the fall of the House of Usher"."Burried alive" or "premature burial" plays a prominent part in the plot too.The walled up character was present in "the black cat" and "the cask of Amontillado".As for "the pit and the pendulum",it provides the movie with its final,but it's only a small segment of the whole.

The actors are excellent ,the sets wonderfully Gothic,but there's something hollow in these Corman movies.Fellini was able to transcend Poe (eg segment "Tobby Dammit" in "tre passi nel delirio") ,Corman remains a respectful director,and one sees little of the madness which emanates from Poe's best works.The same goes for such works as "premature burial" or "tales of terror".Outside technically,it does not show any improvement on,for instance Jean Epstein's (helped by Luis Bunuel)"chute de la maison Usher" a silent movie from 1928.
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Kinetic and Killer...Early Sixties Horror
LeonLouisRicci10 December 2013
After, some say, a slow start, this is a Creepy Gutwrench of a Film with Director Roger Corman, Cinematographer Floyd Crosby, Writer Richard Matheson, and Score Composer Les Baxter all contributing to the look and feel of this Gothic playground. Of course Vincent Price and Barbara Steele do nothing but enhance this to a Kinetic and Killer early Sixties Horror entry.

The Final Act is full of disturbing and penetrating imagery and is bizarre and haunting. The last image on Screen is Legendary. From the opening Psychedelic liquidity, Years ahead of its Time, along with spine tingling Musical Chops, the Audience is Catapulted to another place and Time just this side of the Spanish Inquisition.

A brutal and sadistic era of torture and mayhem. The residue remains and has scarred the Psyche of Protagonist Nicolas Medina along with a Freudian Frenzy of Mother and Father Shock.

This is the set up and is Disturbing to say the least. It all leads to a Climax of Poetic Justice and for the Time this is Horror Movie Madness at its best. It still holds up quite well and is Low Budget Articism with "The" Low Budget Artisan Corman Directing this as though it were a Masterwork. Some say it is. The Masque of the Red Death (1964) aside, no argument here.
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very creepy and atmospheric
Blake W5 August 2005
I loved this movie. Being a Vincent Price fan I bought the DVD which has House of Usher on the other side. I thought Pit and Pendulum even surpassed the very good Fall of the House of Usher. I haven't seen everything Price made, but this is my favorite Vincent Price movie so far. Pit and Pendulum shows why he is a horror icon. I loved the way Corman uses colors especially during dream and flashback sequences. The whole film is very atmospheric and moody. It doesn't look cheaply made at all even though Corman was working on a tight budget. The climatic scene with the pendulum is a real nail biter. I was on the edge of my seat. I wish todays Hollywood could give us a horror movie with this much atmosphere and chills. If you are looking for a suspenseful, Gothic horror movie with plenty of style and chilling atmosphere, this movie is perfect.
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Not too shabby
Eli (CrazedCommando)25 January 2004
It is rare to find a horror movie of yesteryear that frightens you, let alone be taken seriously, but The Pit and the Pendulum succeeded at scaring the bejeezus out of me. A combination of an inventive adaptation of the not-so-scary short story, along with a great score and acting by the cast, especially Vincent Price, made this movie terrifiying and entertaining. If you are ever at the video store, and you see this movie on display, I cannot urge you enough to rent it. 9/10
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Nice Poe follow-up to "House of Usher"...Price is terrific...
Neil Doyle10 August 2007
Once again VINCENT PRICE is harboring a dark secret about a torture dungeon, a father who sadistically used it during the Inquisition, and a wife who has died mysteriously. JOHN KERR is a young man from England who comes to Spain to find out what happened to his sister.

When the story of the Spanish nobleman's boyhood is related to Kerr, you can understand why Price is about to go insane, haunted as he is by witnessing the death of his mother and uncle in the chamber. The plot thickens when it turns out that two of his loyal friends are at the heart of a cruel deception.

All the Gothic elements are here in all their clichéd glory: the hidden passageways, the steep stairways, the cobwebs and spiders, the handsome castle interiors and all of the interiors beautifully photographed. Les Baxter's music provides an appropriately chilling background score. Roger Corman's direction is a major asset and BARBARA STEELE does nicely as the adulterous wife.

Kerr is adequate as the young man inquiring into the death of his sister, but it's Price's show all the way. His mad scene at the end is extremely well handled, a bit over-the-top in many ways, but still effective. The pendulum scene is a nail biter.

Summing up: Top rate Gothic mystery makes good combination of Poe, Corman and Price once again.
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It's The Pits! The Price Is Right In The End, Though!
ccthemovieman-12 March 2009
Boy, If I hadn't read another review beforehand which suggested hanging around for the end of this film, even if one gets bored early on, I might have given up on it. I'm glad I stayed with it. It's true; the last part is terrific.

Once again, Vincent Price, as billed, has the lead and deserves the recognition as he emotes as only he could. The surprise is that Price plays such a wimp in this movie, which is out of character for him in his horror films but then - bang! - his REAL personality comes out. Ole Vinny fooled us all. It's shocking and it's pure Price. You'll love it! Price plays, "Nicholas," a guy with a bad family tree. His father tortured people during the Spanish Inquisition and poor "Nicholas" saw his uncle and mother die, too, in the torture chambers of his father's castle (which is a pretty cool place, by the way)..

John Kerr, a horrible actor in this movie, plays a guy ("Francis") to comes to the castle to find out what happened to his sister who had recently died. Oh yeah, she was married to Nicholas. That guy just has no luck with relatives.

I won't say what happens but involves some neat twists and helps make up for the corny and somewhat-boring dialog of the first hour. Talk about torture, though. The first hour, especially the first 20 minutes, is torture to get through. Then a couple of cool all-blue flashback scenes spiced up things for a few minutes, and then it was snooze time until the last 20 minutes which were great!

That last quarter hour is really a hoot for horror fans, especially the last shot!
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Sixties Saw
Shawn Watson17 February 2016
Uber-cheap filmmaker Roger Corman found an affinity with Edgar Allen Poe in the early 60s and drummed out this pleasingly Gothic horror, which has actually turned out to be one of this best efforts. Shot in anamorphic Panavision with some lovely matte paintings and composites the film looks more technically sophisticated than his usual fare.

Vincent Price plays the sorrowful Spanish nobility mourning the loss of this beautiful wife with gloomy melodrama while the co-actors add to the morbidity with equally glum performances. The castle sets are a bit stiff but have enough atmosphere to make them seem authentic. The nature of the story has a "Saw" feel to it and is most certainly an inspiration in some regards.

At a brisk 81 minutes (and, knowing Corman, probably shot in 81 minutes also) there's no chance of it being boring or overwrought. I even found some of it to be quite innovative, including a clever moment I can see was reused in William Malone's 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill.

Not exactly a breathtaking classic horror but it will entertain you if you are stuck for something appropriate on a dark and stormy night.
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The Pit and the Pendulum (7/10)
skybrick73630 April 2015
Three legendary figures, one in writing, and one in film-making, and one in acting are responsible for bringing The Pit and the Pendulum to life. It's Edgar Allen Poe's story about a brother struggling to come to terms about how his sister's untimely death happened. He goes to the mansion of Nicholas Medina, played by the magnificent Vincent Price, to look for answers. The Pit and the Pendulum for a 60's movie is attention getting by how powerful and mystique the actors and actresses characters are, and the brilliant story and script that intertwines very nicely. Roger Corman direction was astounding as well, making me realize why he's so acclaimed by his film-making peers. The Pit and the Pendulum is a nice little horror flick that I watched with no expectations and had no regrets spending the time and money to watch it.
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"The Razor Edge Of Destiny"
Prichards1234527 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Pit and The Pendulum is an iconic example of what film-makers can do on a relatively low budget. Director Roger Corman's second Poe adaption (he made 8 in all - although 1 was actually based on Lovecraft) is arguably the best of the whole bunch. Edgy, cunningly developed (there are 4 major twists in the plot alone, as well as some minor ones), well photographed and brilliantly directed, Pit builds up to its shocks carefully (these days they'd just throw blood at the screen) and the final sequence is a master-class in how to create cinematic suspense.

All this, of course, comes from a story by Poe that runs less than 17 pages - I checked my Penguin edition! What perhaps often escapes viewers, is that the additions to the plot provided by writer Richard Matheson are basically taken from the French 1955 movie Les Diaboliques, which also has a great twist ending (the same twist, in fact!) Yet this movie has 3 more. Twist 1 - Elizabeth Medina really has been buried alive, making her doctor, who stakes his reputation that she wasn't, a bit crap! Twist 2. Aha, Elizabeth is not dead after all, but in league with the dastardly doctor and gunning for her hubby!. Twist 3. Nicholas, supposedly driven hopelessly insane, takes on the persona of his evil inquisitor father( or is he possessed?). Twist 4. Well, it's the final shot of the movie and I'll leave you to discover it for yourself.

This is a film that is still frightening today, and of course, where would horror films be without Vincent Price? In truth this isn't one of his best showings, he's over the top in some scenes; but that moment, when Nicholas' comatose expression suddenly takes on an evil smile, is one of the most chilling moments in all movies, and confirms what a great actor Price really was.

Pit is a great movie, one I never get tired of watching. It was preceded by House Of Usher and followed by The Premature Burial, Tales Of Terror, The Raven, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of The Red Death, and Tomb Of Ligeia.
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Poe & Price
AaronCapenBanner5 October 2013
The second of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations stars Vincent Price(again superb) as Nicholas Medina, tormented son of an infamous Spanish Inquisitor who is visited by his brother-in-law Francis Barnard(John Kerr) who demands to see his sister Elizabeth(played by Barbara Steele) He is informed that she has died of a blood disease, but refuses to believe this, and investigates matters himself with distressing consequences...

Equally good follow-up to "House Of Usher" is once again atmospherically directed by Roger Corman and written by Richard Matheson, who create a moody and ultimately tragic tale of fate and madness, with fine production design and a memorable climax and end.
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mela105515 September 2004
This movie had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I actually had to turn it off at the pendulum scene. And I LOVE horror movies! However, this movie is terror and not gore. Even though it was made in 1961 I was still frightened by it. Vincent Price is great! What a madman! The other characters were just as good. Although the beginning of the movie took me a while to get into. The movie is not the same as Poe's short story- there are many difference. However that can be expected when a movie comes from a short story. The scenery was great. The costumes were amazing. Now if I can only gather up my nerves to go finish the movie I will be all set. This movie will send chills down anyone's spine.
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