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Much better than you would expect
The_Void15 May 2005
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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Stuart Gordon's best since Re-Animator/From Beyond.
Infofreak7 January 2004
I haven't liked Stuart Gordon's output much since his classic one-two punch of 'Re-Animator' and 'From Beyond' back in the 1980s, so I've avoided seeing some of his movies for years. 'The Pit And The Pendulum' is one. I thought it was going to be a turkey, but now that I've finally seen it, I'm pleasantly surprised. While it isn't as great as vintage Gordon, it's far better than 'Castle Freak' or his recent 'Dagon'. The cast really makes this work. Lance Henriksen is excellent as the tortured Inquisitor Torquemada, and Rona De Ricci is very good as Maria the beautiful girl he becomes obsessed with. I don't know why De Ricci didn't go on to a career as she can act and she's very hot. The supporting cast is way above average, with Gordon regulars Jeffrey Combs and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, 'Dolls' Stephen Lee, Tom Towles ('Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer'), Mark Margolis ('Pi') and even a cameo by Oliver Reed, who let's not forget appeared in 'The Devils' back in the early 70s, a movie which this 'The Pit And The Pendulum' has more in common with than the 60s Roger Corman version starring Vincent Price. I liked this movie a lot more than I expected to. It's underrated and definitely worth checking out, especially for Henriksen's intense performance, one of the best of his career.
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Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Rusty-6126 February 2001
OK, sorry, I couldn't resist. Though this is a pretty grim movie at times, I can't hear the phrase "Spanish Inquisition" without going through the Monty Python routine. Once the movie starts, however, I am always so engrossed I forget about the sketch.

This movie had me hooked from the first scene the first time I saw it, but it has that rare quality of actually getting better with every viewing. As many have said, this is without a doubt Full Moon's all-time best. I'm a diehard Stuart Gordon fan, and if it wasn't for Re-Animator, I might say it was Gordon's best, too. By the way, the first scene is very grisly and cold-blooded, and you *know* it's gonna be a great movie when that happens even before the opening credits.

I'm really saddened that this movie didn't get more of a chance for wide release. I remember it being in the theater for maybe one week and then going to video, and the only reason I even knew it existed was from reading Fangoria. Look at the cast- while they aren't all considered "A-list", they are favs among horror and cult fans- Lance Henriksen (Millennium, Aliens) Tom Towles (Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond), Frances Bay (Blue Velvet), Oliver Reed... I think the other strike it has against it is that people see the title (maybe that's why it was changed in some versions, including the R-rated DVD that I rented, to The Inquisitor) and figure it's a travesty to even try to remake. Some friends wouldn't even give the movie a chance (to the point where they didn't even want to look at the box, they were so scornful) until I had to beg them to watch it- they thanked me after the first few scenes.

Don't get me wrong, the original is wonderful, and Vincent Price is, well, Vincent Price and in a class by himself. However, this movie has very little in common with Corman's other than the title, the fact that both movies are based on Poe's work, and that there's a scene towards the end where some unlucky b*stard tries to get free before the pendulum slices him in half. The similarities end there, however, and I don't think it's fair or accurate to call it a remake.

This version is actually set back in Spain during 1492, the REAL inquisition. Lance Henriksen, who can make his voice sound so quietly evil that Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter sounds harmless by comparison, stars as Torquemada. With the assistance of his underlings, he wants to rid the world of witchcraft and heresy, figuring the best way to do this is to torture and kill what seems like 99% of the population (historically, he was said to be responsible of over 100,000 executions). During one ugly public display involving Gordon's wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon -other than Re-animator, she always seems to come to a horrible end in his movies) the young baker Antonio and his lovely wife Maria make the mistake of trying to intervene, so they assume she's a witch and toss her in the dungeon. In her cell, she's befriended by kindly Esmeralda. In one of the most clever twists, her cellmate turns out to be the one out of the tens of thousands accused who actually IS a witch. Maria's husband tries to save her and of course is immediately arrested as well. Unfortunately for Maria, ole Torq is horrified to find himself secretly attracted to her (he's a monk, and as Henriksen explains in the feauturette, has 'probably never gotten any in his life') and doesn't know how to deal with it. At first it seems like Maria might be able to use this to her advantage, but since Torq is so psychotically religious that he thinks any human emotions are the work of Satan, things just get more complicated and intense from there.

There are several references other than the Pendulum to Poe's work -clever ones, that fit in with the plot and are not just tossed in for the hell of it. Someone is walled up, even quoting the notorious line "For the love of God!" "Yes...for the love of God" is the grim reply. A cask of wine is revealed to be Amontillado. There's also subtle references to "The Premature Burial" and probably more I missed.

One of the elements that is actually kind of amusing in a horrible way is that you have absolutely NO chance against the evil forces in this movie, to the point where it is ludicrous. You're reasonably attractive? You're obviously trying to tempt men and must be a witch. You're ugly? That's also a sign of being a witch. You look normal? You're a witch disguised as a normal person! You try to fight back when they tear your clothes off to 'examine' you? You're not co-operating, you're a witch! You give up and co-operate? You're an evil whore! You have a mole or freckle anywhere on your body? That's the mark of the devil and you're a witch. Oh, you don't have any? Someone will pinch you and make a mark. Oh, the mark is starting to fade? You're using your evil powers to make it fade! You're just completely screwed no matter what. Also, if they haven't tortured you yet and you confess first to get it over with? Sorry, no such luck! You might just be trying to avoid torture, so confession doesn't officially count until you've been tortured for days-that is, if you don't die under torture ("Not another one!" a torturer complains in exasperation at one point).

The cast is amazing. There's not even near enough room to list all the great acting in this movie. Standouts are Henriksen, who not only portrays total evil all too convincingly but the inner struggle against his lust for Maria VS his 'holy duty'. Oliver Reed has less than 10 minutes of screen time as a heavy-drinking Cardinal who comes to visit Torquemada and try to get him to ease up on the mass killing a little, but trust me, you'll remember his scene long after the movie is over. Jeffrey Combs, as the scribe with the prince Valiant haircut and huge horn-rimmed Harry Potter glasses who seems to be the only one involved who is "just doing his job" and not getting off on it like all of Torquemada's other flunkies, steals every scene he's in. A less talented actor would have been forgettable in what could have been a boring part, but he makes the most of every second of his screen time. He also gets the some of the best and funniest lines ("How can they confess if they DON'T HAVE TONGUES??"), including the best in the movie along with the actress playing Esmeralda. She's wonderful, and one of the best and most memorable scenes of this, or any horror movie for that matter, involves her show-stopping revenge when she's burned at the stake. As she's being dragged up, Comb's character actually tells her apologetically: "I'm sorry that you weren't properly able to confess. There just wasn't enough time to torture you". Esmeralda: "Thanks anyway".

Not only am I running out of room to rave about how much I loved this movie, but I don't want to talk it up so much that I ruin it. Just watch, enjoy, and get the bejeezus scared out of you. Make sure you are not going to be interrupted for 90 minutes, because it is so riveting you do NOT want to have to turn it off even for a minute. Watch, and prepare to be impressed. Caution: this is NOT a movie for kids, or easily upset adults. The movie pulls NO punches in the graphic portrayal of extremely nasty tortures and executions. The movie is scary and disturbing enough; I try not to dwell to long on the fact that it is based on historical events. In the words of a character during a climactic moment that you won't forget for a long time..."Welcome to Hell!"
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Stuart Gordon's Lesser Classic
gavin69425 August 2008
The Roman Catholic Church has begun to turn away from the Inquisition, finding its methods and motives more than just a little bit suspect. But the Grand Inquisitor of Spain (Lance Henriksen) has other plans... he is his own authority, allegedly guided by God Himself. A baker and his wife end up on the wrong side of the law -- his law -- when they protest an execution and she is accused of witchcraft.

Lance Henriksen has a bad habit of appearing in many low budget horror films, so much so that any credibility he gained as Bishop from "Aliens" or Frank Black from "Millenium" is overshadowed by his constant self-degradation. Did we really need so many Pumpkinhead films? But "Pit and the Pendulum" is one of those rare films that is both lower budget and yet still good, today maybe even carrying on well as a timeless classic.

Unlike other Full Moon films, this one has a steady plot and interesting characters -- and a decent cast. Mark Margolis shows up and Jeffrey Combs has a relatively small, but crucial, role to play. (Combs, like Henriksen, has sold out in recent years.... but his very presence makes a film better.) There is excessive -- but not gratuitous -- nudity, bloody torture devices (but not to the point of exploitation like "Saw", just for entertainment). This is a fun film in the vein of, say, the original "Troll" (but not "Troll 2").

Stuart Gordon is best known for "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond", but if there is a third third of his that deserves recognition, this is it. Gordon (and writer Dennis Paoli) found a way to work within the budget of Full Moon and still make things worth watching rather than poor excuses for "movies".

Now out on Blu-ray, the film looks better than ever (as much as it can). There is no audio commentary for some inexplicable reason, but there is a very short making-of featurette. Somehow Tom Towles got his name spelled wrong on the credits (a true disgrace). notes that the "transfer isn't masterful, but it's certainly more than capable" and gives the disc 3 of 5 stars. But if the price is right this film is worth getting.
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Different kind of horror...but in a good way.
Coventry15 December 2003
I really enjoyed watching this movie and I wish to recommend to as many people as possible. But maybe biased because I'm a huge fan of director Stuart Gordon. I have yet to see a movie of his that doesn't fully lives up to my expectations. From Re-Animator over Dolls to Castle Freak...they all belong to my favorite horror movies. And I do believe Gordon belongs to the most talented directors in the genre because he can handle all sort of horror topics. His debut - the brilliant Re-Animator - was a comedy splatter movie while The Pit and the Pendulum doesn't contain that much violence or gore. This movie contains an intelligent and even educational story and it has great settings and costumes of the 14th century.

The Pit and the Pendulum is an adaptation of the famous short story by Edgar Allen Poe. The master of low budget - Roger Corman - already used this story once to make a great horror classic starring Vincent Price. Stuart Gordon's movie isn't really a remake of that one. They just used the same plot. Pit and the Pendulum takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. Lance Henriksen plays one of the best roles of his entire career as Torquemada. He decides whether "witches" are guilty or not and when they'll be burned for the eyes of God. A young girl, Maria ( played by Ronna De Ricci who never did anything else in her career )who resists against his way of working is being arrested. Torquemada wants to accuse her of witchery but he's fascinated by her looks and her body. Meanwhile, Maria's husband entered the castle and he wants to free his wife.

The atmosphere and the settings impress the most in this movie. The ancient castle and the torture chambers are really intriguing. The costumes are terrific as well. There isn't too much gore and violence to detect in this movie ( especially not compared to previous Gordon movies ) but they're are a few very explicit scenes that show true horror. But it's always shot with a lot of style and class. Even though Lance Henriksen is getting all the attention in this movie, there are a a few other great performances in this movie. I'd like to bring forward Jeffrey favorite B-movie actor and frequently cast by Stuart Gordon. His role is pretty limited but very well acted.

The Pit and Pendulum is warmly recommended to fans of atmospheric horror and historical stories. One to watch !!
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Excellent Movie
Jason Dyer14 January 2003
Good flick from back in the days when Full Moon Entertainment was serious about making them. Not much of a known cast, however they all put out excellent performances, especially Lance Henriksen who is one of my favorites. Well told story. I strongly recommend this one for Lance Henriksen fans, or someone who wants to see what Full Moon was able to do in their heyday.
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The Pit and the Pendulum
Scarecrow-8818 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada(Lance Henriksen), known for his public executions and torturous methods of those he and his foot-soldiers deem heretics and witches, is overcome with lust when he gazes upon the naked body of baker Antonio's(Jonathan Fuller)lovely wife Maria(the stunning beauty Rona De Ricci)on trial for being a witch after halting the never-ending whipping of a boy child in front of a crowd of people. The film shows Torquemada's battle with his desire for Maria and how Antonio will try to save her, which will not be an easy task.

I think the main success of this film is Lance Henriksen's powerful performance as the sadistic, psychotic Inquisitor. While his chosen men, Gomez(Stephen Lee)and Dr. Huesos(William J Norris)bask in the joy of making others suffer, Don Carlos(Tom Towles)drunk with the role of captain riding his horse with great pride, and Francisco(Jeffrey Combs, who looks like a bookish accountant tending to his recorded testimonies of sin and acknowledgments of witchcraft as if he were an IRS agent seeking debts owed by clients)logging the accused, very business-like, with little remorse, Torquemada is completely serious in his role as executioner and judge wielding his power as if he were the mighty hand of God striking down anyone he so chooses. Henriksen's always intense and frighteningly believable..I do feel that he best represents what kind of monster those Inquisitors were like during this horrible time in history. While we often watch as his victims suffer, thanks to director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli, those who mistreat get their comeuppance in the end. It's fun watching Torquemada fall prey to his own madness, guilt, hypocrisy & buried iniquities which surface and confront him in a fantastically realized climax.

Frances Bay steals every scene she's in as accused and imprisoned witch Esmeralda, who befriends Maria and gets revenge on hecklers and executioners when she's set at the the stake to burn with the use of gunpowder. Mark Margolis ably portrays the abused torturer Mendoza, a puppet Torquemada(..and his goons)uses to do his dirty work(..he has these nasty Christ-like wounds on his hands which Torquemada gave to him as punishment as a reminder of what can happen when you "sin"). Stuart Gordon's wife, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon( an ancestor of one Torquemada deems a heretic as his torturer whips the skeletal remains of an unearthed corpse!) gets you-know-what again(..he likes to murder his wife on film in devious ways)and it's quite a grisly fate..she is strangled by a rope over the back of an executioner as her child watches helplessly. Oliver Reed has a very memorable cameo as a visiting Cardinal, with quite the taste for drink, who brings orders from the Pope for Torquemada to end his violent methods, meeting a horrifying end(..yep, the dependable wall entombment).

I also loved the preposterous, but ingenious, way one escapes the swinging razor-sharp pendulum which closes in to his body thanks to rats. That pit of spikes, underneath a trap door where the poor victim lies as the pendulum swings, is also put to good use.And, I think that Gordon utilizes Rona De Ricci's beauty and innocence quite well..she's certainly a sympathetic figure we root for as it seems her fate is doomed because of the trap Torquemada has placed her in. But, this is Henriksen's movie..he's a force of nature and Gordon ideally shoots him in sinister ways. You do not want this man pointing you out of a crowd for the possibility of consorting with the DEVIL, that's for sure.
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"I don't ride on a broomstick through the air or kiss the devil's c*ck." Decent Poe adaptation.
Paul Andrews14 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Pit and the Pendulum is set in Toledo in Spain during 1492 as the Spanish Inquisition lead by Torquemada (Lance Henriksen) would strike fear into the hearts of the local population, they would mercilessly torture anyone they thought guilty of witchcraft. While at a public execution a kind hearted woman named Maria (Rona De Ricci) speaks out against the inquisition & it's methods, straight away she is accused of being a witch & carted off to be tortured while her baker boyfriend Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) is left for dead. When he comes round he bribes a castle guard named Gomez (Stephen Lee, no not the British snooker player...) to let him in as he tries to rescue Maria, unfortunately Antonio is caught himself & he too is tortured. Is there any way Antonio & Maria can escape the horrors of the Spanish Inqusition & save themselves...

Directed by Stuart Gordon (my on screen digital TV guide claimed it was directed by someone called Stuart Corman!) & based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe this is a pretty good period horror flick. Poe's story had already been turned into a film by Roger Corman as he directed Pit and the Pendulum (1961) staring Vincent Price although this 90's version has next to nothing in common with Corman's flick other than the title & even that was changed to The Inquisitor for it's US DVD release, the script by Dennis Paoli is pretty good here, the character's are better than one would expect with Henriksen obviously having fun playing the part of Torquemada as he's a character with some depth even if not a particularly likable one although I'm not sure about that silly hair-cut. The dialogue is OK & it moves along at a reasonable pace but I couldn't help thinking there wasn't much to it, I mean two people are accused of witchcraft & they get tortured by the Spanish Inquisition who abuse their own power & that's about it, there's a small sub-plot about the pope wanting to end the torture of the Inqusition but this is quickly forgotten & comes to nothing. I didn't like the ambiguous nature of the witches either, I mean were they real witches or not? Why the secrecy? So there you have it, if this sounds exciting to you or you like watching people getting tortured then The Pit and the Pendulum is the film for you, as for me I liked it but mostly because of Hendriksen & it's torture scenes. I know, I'm sick.

Director Gordon does alright, the Italian castle locations look nice enough I suppose but I couldn't help but feel it was all a little flat & bland. There's certainly no real style or visual flair here that Gordon showed in his earlier films, there's a pretty nasty down beat atmosphere running through the film & it certainly isn't a feel good flick as there are no happy endings on show. Don't expect a fact based history lesson either I doubt there's much fact here apart from the Spanish inquisition themselves. While there are plenty of torture scenes The Pit and the Pendulum surprisingly isn't that graphic, there's some blood splatter, someone is impaled on spikes, a rat is sliced in half, people are burned at the stake & various scenes of torture which aren't particularly intense. There's some full frontal nudity as well if that's your thing.

With a supposed budget of about $2,000,000 this looks nice enough if a little forgettable, it's reasonably well made with better than average production values & decent period detail although most of it takes place in the same room. The acting is pretty good even if a potentially great cast is wasted, Oliver Reed, Jeffrey Combs, Stephen Lee & Tom Towles are somewhat underused.

The Pit and the Pendulum is a fine horror film, it's not the most complex or absorbing film ever but for some exploitative nudity & torture it delivers & frankly you can't argue with exploitative nudity & torture. I liked it, I just wish it had been a bit more graphic & the story was a bit meatier. Still a good effort though.
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Engrossing and Gross
Dasha23 September 1999
I really enjoyed this film.It was a little poor in some aspects mainly the acting but the story line was adequate. If you are a viewer of dark movies, then you would like this adaption of Edgar Allan Poe. The torture scenes are quite good.
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The Pit and the Pendulum
Phil Hubbs22 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Charles Band takes on the classic Poe tale here with help from a surprisingly good cast including Lance Henriksen, Jeffrey Combs and a small cameo from Oliver Reed!

This film is combination of three classic Poe tales which aren't that bad but as you would expect pretty cheap 'n' cheerful looking at times. There is an odd element of humour at times boarding on spoof, yet despite this Henriksen gives us a chilling performance as the lunatic inquisitor 'Torquemada' which is a brilliantly over the top ham fest of a performance, bizarre monk hairdo included and those cutting round eyes of his.

Rest of the cast are pretty useless and the effects and sets go from reasonable to down right awful. Plenty of fake blood and cheesy dialog but I saw this mainly for Henriksen really, his presence elevates the film to a guilty pleasure.

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A very good horror film.
Scott LeBrun5 July 2013
"The Pit and the Pendulum" marks a high point for Charles Bands' Full Moon Studios; it's an intense, elaborate, bloody, and sexy film that truly lives up to the word "horror". It's not perfect, but even taking any flaws into account, it represents an impressive effort from director Stuart Gordon and a talented cast and crew.

Taking a break from adapting the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli instead use the short story by Edgar Allan Poe as a jumping off point for a tale set during the Spanish inquisition of the 15th century. In the city of Toledo, bakers' wife Maria (the stunning Rona De Ricci) interferes when a little boy is being flogged in public. Due to this action, it is assumed by the clergy that she must be a witch and she and her husband Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) are arrested and intended to stand trial. Taking a deep interest in her is Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen, in a commanding performance), who explains his lust away by saying that she has "bewitched" him.

The production values are first rate here: filmed on location in Italy, the film looks just right, from the sets to the costumes to the props. Under-rated composer Richard Band contributes one of his best ever scores. This is all wonderfully (and appropriately) lurid and gory; Greg Cannoms' effects are most enjoyable, and the exquisite Ms. De Ricci goes full frontal for some scenes. The atmosphere is palpable; Gordon and company perfectly create a feeling of oppression and despair. Only some unnecessary levity and comedic performances tend to take one out of the film; it just feels too unnatural.

The cast is certainly full of eclectic choices, especially the always fantastic Henriksen, who disappears inside his deranged character. De Ricci and Fuller are both impassioned, Frances Bay has a great role as a cheerful old witch, Jeffrey Combs is amusing, and Mark Margolis and Tom Towles offer fine support. There's also a small role for Geoffrey Copleston, and a great cameo by Oliver Reed.

Outside of his Lovecraft-based efforts such as "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond", this has to rank as one of the best things that Gordon has done. Even if this viewer didn't care for some elements, the rest of the film is just so good that this can be forgiven. Overall, it's well worth a viewing.

Eight out of 10.
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Not as good as the Corman movie, but for a gory horror flick it ain't bad
Leofwine_draca9 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If you've ever seen any of Full Moon's other horror films then you might have some idea of what to expect from this tacky low-budget oddity. THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is definitely at the "good" end of their movies, although that isn't saying a lot considering that DOLLMAN and SHRIEK are at the other. The main trouble with this film is that, for me, it feels oddly disjointed and doesn't really go anywhere. While a number of the individual scenes in themselves are quite inventive and enjoyable, as a whole it lacks focus and plotting.

Filmed at the castle which Charles Band owned in Italy (not that you would know it, seeing as most of the scenes take place inside), thanks to some excessive gore and bloodiness this film just manages to scrape by. A varied and interesting cast also do their best to make things work, especially Lance Henriksen who has an over-the-top role as the Grand Inquisitor. Henriksen plays probably the oddest character of his career (check out his bald, ringed hairdo or the corset he wears which has blades on the inside... ouch!) and has a ball playing a thoroughly evil, selfish, ruthless, and tormented man, a real force to be reckoned with. Although the two young leads seem to have been miscast (especially in the case of De Ricci, who is fairly unconvincing) the supporting actors are what help to make this entertaining. Popping up are Jeffrey Combs, Tom Towles, and, most surprisingly of all, Oliver Reed as the cardinal who finds himself getting walled up!

Many of the torture scenes are explicit in this film, although not as gritty as in the brief period of witch finding movies they had in the late '60s/early '70s. Tongues are snipped out, people are stretched on the rack, thrown into iron maidens, strangled, burnt, you name it, the usual. The film is worth watching for two inventive, incredible scenes alone. The first is the opening, which sees the bonkers Henriksen exhume a dusty old skeleton, try it for its crimes, and then sentence it to twenty lashes - as a result of with, the skeleton disintegrates! To add insult to injury, the bones are then ground up in a pestle and mortar and used to fill an hourglass - there's something you wouldn't wish on a departed loved one!

The second, frankly hilarious and off-beat scene sees a witch being burnt alive for her crimes. Yet, she manages to swallow a few handfuls of gunpowder beforehand and promptly explodes when the flames reach her! I also greatly enjoyed the excessive ending of this movie. I see many people complaining because the actual pit and the pendulum of the title are obviously cheaply-made and not on screen for very long, but you can't have everything! The ending is packed with outrageous twists and turns which don't disappoint. These scenes help to make THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM a fun movie to watch. It may not hold a torch to the 1961 version that Corman made, but the gooey gore and the cult cast make this one worthwhile for horror fans.
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Very good smut....
LapinBlanch13 October 2002
Before viewing this film one should note that the director, Mr. Gordon, believes in taking his films far beyond the lines of common decency.This film is fantastic, but a little much...then again, Gordon's motto is "More is More," The Brilliant (and very hot,) Lance Henderson is amazing as Torquemada, the sado-masochistic inquisitor... I suggest that you watch his hands, every gesture is perfectly placed. Lance is a truly great Method actor, and he has every aspect of that evil man down... He alone would have made this one of my favorite films , but every performance was near-perfect. (the only bad acting I can recall was committed by a guard who has one line in the first seven minutes of the film) and the script is great.. The Young actress who portrays Maria is so truly beautiful, and her performance is captivating. (She's also naked for much of the film, so that's good for the dudes) She's hot, she acts, it's good. Her Name is Rona De Ricci and she hasn't done anything else, which is sad... The first time I watched this film I was convinced that this was a film to be watched alone, as it takes you far beyond the boundaries of comfort, and I just thought it would be weird to watch with anyone else (Parents would be the worst possible people to watch this one with...) But some of my friends spent the night before last with me for a HORROR-FEST and the film went over really well... It pretty much covers every aspect of the horror genre, blood for the gore hounds, ultra dark humor, the list goes on, but I think You get the idea. In conclusion, This is a great film, thought it isn't Citizen Cain, and it's not one for the weak, the wounded.
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Really Enjoyable - In a dark way!
m.durnell29 June 2002
Adapted from perhaps one of the greatest Dark story tellers of the past Edgar Allan Poe.

This film was very enjoyable Oliver Reeds accent was very believable but I was really surprised at how a big name actor like Reed only had a very small part in the film.

Mark Margolis (Of Equalizer fame) played a really good part - Very Dark!

Rona De Ricci who played Maria She was in my opinion the real star of the film. It's surprising then, that she seems to have been in only two films. She is both a very talented actress and a strikingly beautiful woman.

Lance Henrikson played His part extremely well as the very tortured inquisitor.

The scene with the Rats - brilliant.

Over all this film is one that I will remember.
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Jeffrey Combs AND Lance Henriksen!
Conrad Billings4 November 2004
This movie has everything that a growing boy (and girl) needs: Jeffrey Combs as a hilariously anachronistic inquisitor, Lance Henriksen as a wonderfully creepy grand inquisitor, nudity, bloodshed, and an exploding witch.

As far as horror movies go, it is not especially frightening. It does fairly well as a suspense thriller. But its main strength lies in its cast, the art direction, and the behind the scenes footage.

Even if you happen to be expecting a straight Edgar Allen Poe adaptation, this movie won't disappoint. Even though it has a pit and a bladed pendulum, the similarities are few and far between. The ending IS kind of weird, but as they say, getting there is half the fun. Well worth renting or buying. (3.7 out of 5)
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Pleasant surprise
Smoreni Zmaj28 August 2017
I think I saw almost every movie based on Poe, and this one is probably the best. It has everything it should: good story that, although it is not faithful, does not defile original, great tense and dark atmosphere, nice balance between horror and psychological drama, music that perfectly fits, maybe the career performance of Lance Henriksen, solid acting of the rest of the crew, enchanting damsel in distress, with brief but fascinating scene of nudity, and, totally untypical for the genre, perfectly incorporated happy end. This is peak of low budget horror drama. Most sincere recommendation.

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Not as good as the Vincent Price version.
BA_Harrison11 April 2017
When his wife Maria (Rona De Ricci) is accused of being a witch by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor (Lance Henriksen), distraught Antonio attempts a daring rescue mission, breaking into the Inquisition's headquarters. Soon enough, he too finds himself a prisoner, and faces Torquemada's latest torture device: The Pendulum.

I have a lot of time for director Stuart Gordon, but I do feel like he fumbled the ball slightly with The Pit and the Pendulum. When dealing with weighty historical subjects such as witch trials, torture and the Spanish Inquisition, I feel like gritty realism is the best approach; comedy should not be allowed to dilute the horror (unless, of course, you're Monty Python). Gordon, however, imbues his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's short story with a degree of levity that is completely at odds with the horrifying topic at hand. At best, it's mildly distracting; at worst, it's bloody silly (the worst example being when baker Antonio is sat on a metal chair over a fire and makes a quip about 'burning his buns').

It's not all bad news though: the film open with an inspired scene that effectively illustrates the sheer lunacy of the Inquisition, with the posthumous flogging of a crumbling corpse; Henriksen is wonderfully evil throughout, relishing every bonkers moment; Gordon regular Jeffrey Combs has a memorable supporting role as Torquemada's assistant; Ollie Reed knocks back some booze before being walled up alive; and De Ricci is delicious, the lovely lady baring all for her art. There's also one wonderfully OTT scene that is hard not to enjoy, no matter how daft it is: Esmerelda, a real witch, swallows gunpowder on the way to the stake, exploding when she is set alight, her bones impaling those in the crowd.
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Full Moon rising
devisedbymonkeys24 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
A really great product from Full Moon's Halcyon days. All of the features you come to expect are there: great genre players (from the extraordinary Lance Henrikson, to the unmissable Jeffrey Coombs, to the enigmatic Mark Margolis - from "Pi"); a sprightly score (courtesy of Band frere, Richard); and excellent production design and wonderful use of location (Charles Band's castle in Italy, if I'm not mistaken).

Really worth taking a look at, if you're deeply into the empire that Charles Band has created for himself on video (and few of which have made it over to the other side of the pond, here in the UK).

One gaffe, however, and it requires the minutest of **spoiler** warnings:

When Maria is entombed at one point, she is entombed lying down. However, the front-on camera shot shows her with her earrings dangling, as they would be if she was standing up. Did they think that those of us who've watched the film a few times - and I'm not alone, by the looks of the other reviews - wouldn't notice? Or is it there as a nod to people like us? In that case: thanks, guys, and keep up the good work into the new century!
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kitycatty13721 June 2004
this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. being a so-called adaptation of the story by Edgar Allen Poe, I expected a nice horror flick, but this was just plain horrible. It's NOT scary, it's NOT a horror movie, and there's NO sign of Poe's storyline anywhere to be found. All there is, is detailed torturing, all throughout the movie, only sick making close-up of horrific events, which aren't scary, just make you want to throw up. All that happens, is that the movies goes from one torture scene to the next, this might be a nice film for anyone into sm or whatever, but if you like horror, or Poe, this is not for you!! it just couldn't be any worse!
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Lance is amazing, but that chick was annoying
Caesaria4 February 2002
This is Lance Henriksen's best performance to date, and he's done some amazing work (but some horrible movies, but what of it?). He's hypnotically possessed as the Grand Inquisitor Tourquemada (sp?) who falls for the "beautiful, virginal, ...innocent..., etc" helpless women who is only trying to help her husband. She really is nothing more than a pretty cipher willing to undress onscreen, but it gives Lance a chance to show off his tortured, sexual side. It's quite a doozy, his performance, and he should get the recognition he deserves. One aside: Lance looks good bald, doesn't he?
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"The Holy Inquisition finds you guilty of heresy!"
Backlash00718 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers

Stuart Gordon's The Pit and the Pendulum has very little in common with its predecessor or with Poe's original story. It's ironic that Full Moon's DVD carries the more aptly "The Inquisitor" title in the opening credits. Because that is what the film is about. The Pit and the Pendulum takes place during the Spanish Inquisition where the Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada, was burning and torturing "heretics" left and right. Our story follows an innocent baker and his wife whom Torquemada falls in love with and uses his power in the church to torture them. Lance Henriksen, always a favorite of mine, plays Torquemada while Jonathan Fuller and Rona De Ricci do just fine as the baker and his wife. Oliver Reed has an all too brief cameo. The rest of the cast is filled with Gordon regulars; Jeffrey Combs, Tom Towles, Stephen Lee, and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon. The cast seems to be having fun with the material while Lance is taking it dreadfully serious. It's a shame too, because he gives a terrific and dark performance. His performance is too good for the movie. I know that's a weird thing to say but this is not Stuart Gordon's best work. Many other genre greats worked on this film behind the scenes. The entire Band family is also involved in one capacity or another (it being a Full Moom picture and all) while Dennis Paoli wrote the script and Greg Cannom handles effects. I would consider The Pit and the Pendulum a very decent effort if I didn't know what Gordon was capable of.
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Up their with the best of the 'old skool' Full Moon movies
Vomitron_G17 April 2011
Lance Henriksen, Jeffrey Combs and the beautiful, yet totally unknown (what ever happened to her?) Rona De Ricci (showing some nice full frontal nudies in this film) in a re-telling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit And The Pendulum" with a cameo by Oliver Reed. Directed by Stuart Gordon... What more can I say? That alone already pretty much makes this movie un-flunkable. On a 'Full Moon' scale it certainly ranks up there amongst their better efforts from back in the days they still had comfortable budgets to produce their typical brand of horror entertainment. Even worth an 8/10, if you ask me... And since I've seen one or two Full Moon flickies already, you actually *can* ask me.
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Okay horror film.
HumanoidOfFlesh3 June 2003
Stuart Gordon's "The Pit and the Pendulum" is loosely based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story.Lance Henriksen is truly chilling as the half-crazed Torquemada and there are some nasty torture scenes.The acting is excellent,the script is well-crafted and there is a nice amount of blood and gore.The scene where Torquemada cuts out Maria's tongue is pretty unsettling.All in all I heartily recommend this film to horror fans.8/10.
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