The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

R  |   |  Horror  |  27 June 1991 (USA)
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It is the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Maria does not like what is going on during the "Auto De Fe". When she speaks out, she is arrested and accused of being a witch. Torquemada has ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
William J. Norris ...
Dr. Huesos
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon ...
Contessa D'Alba Molina
Barbara Bocci ...
Contessa's Son
Benito Stefanelli ...
Don Carlos
Rona De Ricci ...
Geoffrey Copleston ...
Larry Dolgin ...
Sergeant of the Guards
Tunny Piras ...
Fabio Carfora ...


It is the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Maria does not like what is going on during the "Auto De Fe". When she speaks out, she is arrested and accused of being a witch. Torquemada has plans for her! He orders her tortured, and her tongue to be cut out. Her husband attempts to free her... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A bizarre descent into hell from the creator of Re-Animator.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of torture and sex-related nudity, and for language. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

27 June 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Inquisitor  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


Another company had expressed interest in financing and releasing the film but the company later went bankrupt and the project was passed on to Full Moon Entertainment. See more »


Torquemada: Surely Rome understands that public executions discourage sin?
Cardinal: The good Lord, you know, padre, he want us to love our neighbor, no roast him, mmm? No roast him ...
See more »


References The Devils (1971) See more »


Emendemus in Melius
Composed by Cristobal De Morales
See more »

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User Reviews

Much better than you would expect
15 May 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

Because it's a newer version of a classic horror movie (and it went directly to video), I have been putting off watching Stuart Gordon's take on Edgar Allen Poe's classic story, but after finally catching it; I can honestly say that I don't know why I didn't see it earlier! While the Roger Corman/Vincent Price version of the tale is far better, this update still has a lot in store for the horror fan, most notably it's superb European styled atmosphere, and a fine performance by Lance Henriksen, which may even be the best of his career. While these elements are contributors to the film's success, the main reason why the film works is the story behind it. Of course, it's based (albeit loosely) on Poe's classic tale, so the story is bound to be solid; but it doesn't take all of it's influence from Poe, and so Dennis Paoli can take a lot of credit for the screenplay he wrote for the movie. The idea of 'the pendulum', along with a 'pit' can conjure up many feelings of dread and pain, and this film adequately capitalises on that with it's excellent torture filled finale!

As mentioned, Lance Henriksen gives what is maybe his best performance in this film. He is both powerful and frightening in his role as Torquemada, the head witchfinder of the Spanish Inquisition. When he says "I am the inquisition", it's enough to make your hairs stand on end. Henriksen is a criminally underrated actor and one that certainly deserves more's just unfortunate that he tends to shine in movies that don't get noticed. Also in the cast is 'Re-Animator' himself, Jeffrey Combs, who shines in a small role as someone in the inquisition. The film isn't wholly serious, and Stuart Gordon has seen fit to add some comic relief to the proceedings, which is OK but I feel that the movie would be better off without any 'relief'. Certain elements from other Poe stories appear, such as a man being bricked in behind a wall, and this film seems to treat it's subject material with respect. The European horror style is a major plus factor in my opinion, and should please fans of movies from the sixties and seventies. On the whole; surprisingly good!

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