THE PENDULUM, THE PIT AND HOPE (Jan Svankmajer, 1984) **1/2
An imprisoned man finally escapes from an underground torture chamber. A relentlessly grim and oppressive rendition comparable, in fact, to Alexandre Astruc's definitive TV version from 1964 but the source material's despairing prose is sorely missed throughout. Famed Czech animator Svankmajer would later lend his uniquely surreal hand to such literary classics as "Alice In Wonderland" and "Faust" but this initial stab his second from Poe material is decidedly less appealing despite its very brief running time. Although the original source material was a short story itself, it has often been opened up for its cinematic adaptations which range from the popular Roger Corman/Vincent Price classic from 1961 to the little-seen but not ineffective Stuart Gordon/Oliver Reed version from 1990.
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