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 ...
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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 plans for her! He orders her tortured, and her tongue to be cut out. Her husband attempts to free her...Written by
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The Pope of the Catholic Church during the majority of the Spanish Inquisition was Pope Innocent VIII, who had originally appointed Torquemada as the Grand Inquisitor of Spain in 1487. Unlike the film, which portrays the Pope as disapproving of Torquemada's actions, Innocent VIII fully supported the endeavor. See more »
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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