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The Dead Pit (1989)

R | | Horror | 29 January 1990 (USA)
A renegade doctor is shot dead and entombed with his fiendish experiments in the basement of an abandoned wing of a mental hospital. Twenty years later, a mysterious woman is admitted with ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Gerald Swan
Cheryl Lawson ...
Jane Doe
Stephen Gregory Foster ...
Christian Meyers (as Steffen Gregory Foster)
Danny Gochnauer ...
Dr. Colin Ramzi
Geha Getz ...
Sister Clair
Joan Bechtel ...
Nurse Kygar
Michael Jacobs ...
Bud Higgins
Mara Everett ...
Nurse Robbins
Randall Fontana ...
Orderly Jimmy
Jack A. Sunseri ...
Head Orderly Jensen (as Jack Sunseri)
Frederick Dodge ...
First Patient
Nettie Heffner ...
Night Nurse
Luana Speelman ...
Day Nurse
Scott Malpass ...
Orderly #1
Skyy Diaz ...
Orderly #2


A renegade doctor is shot dead and entombed with his fiendish experiments in the basement of an abandoned wing of a mental hospital. Twenty years later, a mysterious woman is admitted with amnesia, and her arrival is marked by an earthquake - which cracks the seal to the Dead Pit, freeing the evil doctor to continue his work. Written by Brian J. Wright <tyrannorabbit@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They're out. (US VHS) See more »




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 January 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Pit  »

Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (uncut)


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Did You Know?


The film sold well on video due to a gimmick on the original VHS: the zombie's eyes could flash green at the touch of a button. See more »


Boom mic visible on left side of frame in wide screen version during earthquake sequence when camera tilts down from ceiling into hallway. See more »


Jane Doe: The people in the cellar need help! Let them out!
See more »


Featured in The Dead Pit: Interview with Cheryl Lawson (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A solid addition to the zombie court
17 December 2009 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

It's fair to say I've earned my stripes in regard to zombie movies. Through the course I've taken to delve deep into horror, I've seen countless titles given the highest honors to the lowest scum-of-the- earth production values cinema has ever witnessed. From A to Z grade, however, there stands a few shining stars that are worth discussing. "The Dead Pit" is one of these last glimmers of hope. Brett Leonard, the man responsible for both writing and directing 1992's "The Lawnmower Man," made his directorial debut with this undead feature; he did a fine job in presenting it.

The story begins at a mental hospital in California. Dr. Ramzi, a deranged doctor at the facility, has been murdering and experimenting on patients in the basement. Dr. Gerald Swan learns of his sinister activities; in fear of jeopardizing his career at the hospital, he decides to eliminate Dr. Ramzi and bury the truth for 20 years. Jane Doe, an unidentified woman suffering from amnesia, is admitted to the facility. After an earthquake occurs, visions allow her to slowly uncover the dark secret buried deep beneath.

This movie seems to function greatly for a variety of reasons. Although a few typical 80s production clichés exist they all seem to apply perfectly in the given scenarios the plot uncovers - the use of smoke machines in correlation with intense back lighting are exhausted thoroughly. The bumbling policemen standing outside discussing donuts was also a nice touch. I expect certain predictable elements to exist within the era I'm experiencing. It all works tremendously. The vacant hospital wings that were chosen as set pieces for this film are outstanding. The director clearly knew what he was doing; as a viewer, I felt isolated. The cast of actors/actresses hired to fill the character roles did a decent job - certainly no Emmy nominations to be had, but a solid enough attempt in their own right. As far as the musical score is concerned, expect typical, 80s off-beat harmonics - which, in my opinion, is what I look forward to. Clearly anything with a dark melody is par for the course.

This film can be classified as a zombie flick but it requires a bit of patience from the viewer. The pace seems sluggish for the first 40 minutes of the film but picks up nicely. There is plenty of violence and gore to satiate the blood thirst of any gore hound. The special effects and makeup are worth noting. Although I reserve a special pedestal for Tom Savini, the artists responsible for "The Dead Pit" are truly remarkable and come in a close second - their work displayed here is even a few notches down from , in my humble opinion, the greatest zombie masterpiece of all time, George A. Romero's 1985 feature "Day of the Dead." I consider this a true accomplishment; many Z grade zombie flicks from the 80s, primarily ones with an Italian-schlock quality (I'm not including Lucio Fulci when I speak of schlock, so please don't send a lynch mob to my doorstep!), fail miserably in achieving the same success.

When it comes to zombie movies in general, I think most could agree that Romero was responsible for reinventing and trend-setting a particular brand of undead fiend in 1968's "Night of the Living Dead." I don't consider it a crime if his influence is shared by directors and production teams alike. Although not in the top 5 of classic zombie re- tellings, "The Dead Pit" surely makes the top 10 - give it a try and you won't be disappointed.

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