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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 »


Brett Leonard

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


When the dead start to walk you'd better start running... See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

29 January 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead Pit See more »


Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (uncut)


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Did You Know?


The infamous 'pin in the brain scene' was cut from the American release for being too graphic. 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 »


Dr. Gerald Swan: Please... please don't cut me.
Dr. Colin Ramzi: The brain is a parasite you know. It attaches to the mind and gives us physical form.
Dr. Gerald Swan: Don't cut my brains.
Dr. Colin Ramzi: The brain is the destroyer, the brain is the clock that kills us.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The U.S. release was trimmed of some gore to obtain an "R" rating. See more »


Featured in The Dead Pit: Interview with Gimel Everett (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A crossbreed of eighties horror genres
30 January 2004 | by RareSlashersReviewedSee all my reviews

If anyone ‘s checked my list of write-ups, you'll see that mostly I tend to review slashers. The Dead Pitt isn't exactly one of those flicks, but for a fair part of the runtime it incorporates some of the genre's defining elements. There's a psychopathic, surgical masked serial killer that has the trademark heavy breath and only the heroine can see him (Halloween). And some similar themed stalking set pieces and fairly gruesome murders (Just about every slasher that's ever been released!). It's like an insane mix of Exquisite Tenderness, Dawn of the Mummy and strangely enough, The Exorcist! But overall it's a zombie movie; alas it's an original one, with an exquisite surrounding for the plot to unravel in! I suppose the question that you really want answered if you're reading this is, - is it any good?

In the beginning, Jane Doe is admitted to the State Mental asylum (sorry but they don't give us the name) with amnesia. She protests that she hasn't lost her memory, but it was in fact stolen from her! Her arrival spells bad news for the other inmates however, when an earthquake rocks the institution. Soon after, everyone starts freaking out and people begin to disappear although Jane knows that they have been brutally murdered. She begins seeing a deranged looking surgeon with a bullet hole in his head hanging around the complex, but no-one else spots him and the nurses assume that it's just her insanity creating illusions. Dr. Swann tries her under hypnotherapy, which provides some shocking, if a little unexpected results! The only person that does listen to her is Christian, a patient that becomes close friends with the distraught female. The two set out to solve the mystery of the bizarre disappearances, unaware of the evil that's growing in the clock tower opposite them!

This was Cheryl Lawson's first movie and impressively she managed to land herself the lead part. I can't understand why though, she's one of the worst actresses that I've ever seen! She spends most of the runtime in a tight T-shirt (obviously without a bra, I mean come on!) and small knickers. That's great for us because she's lick-lippingly gorgeous and exceptionally well endowed, but it's pretty unflattering for any female to have to dress like that more than once in her movie debut. Tight clothes and good looks are still no substitute for talent and sadly watching her unconvingly wine and warble her way through the script can become almost nauseating at times! The rest of the cast is equally unimpressive and the only real ‘stars' are the extras that play the deluded inmates of the asylum. Some of the portrayals of dementia are fairly conclusive and add a welcome feeling of uneasiness to the proceedings.

Director Brett Leonard didn't disappear after this like the myriad of other horror helmers from the eighties. Instead he managed to climb on to better things; most noticeably Lawnmower Man. It's obvious from his experimental photography that he could indeed handle his place in ‘the hot seat', although at times he struggles to create suspense when it felt like it was most needed. He also co-wrote the screenplay, which somewhat lowers his credibility, because it has more holes than a keep-net! For example: How did a doctor that was locked in a basement with a bullet in his head manage to find the time to erase Jane's memory? How can he be dead for twenty-one years and only rot slightly? How did the zombies manage to take the distributor caps from the car engines to prevent escape, aren't they supposed to be the walking DEAD? And most importantly, were they deliberately aiming for paroxysms of laughter with their method for stopping the hordes of zombies? It has to be seen to be believed! Answers on a postcard please…

The Dead Pitt is essentially a patchwork of a movie, and not just because it attempts to be a successful crossbreed of horror sub-genres. The excellent lighting that is evident in the opening scenes seems to inexplicably evade the rest of the movie. The plot seems to crumble from imaginative to downright inept and it flies back and fourth from sluggish to energetic throughout. Surprisingly enough, the BBFC – who were at their strictest in the eighties - were implausibly lenient when they gave this an 18 certificate, they left an astonishing amount of gore unedited and the story benefits from it's presence.

A claustrophobic and affectively eerie atmosphere is created at times. But there are far too many ideas fighting for attention, which leaves the best of them struggling to be realised. Huge potential that should have been further developed is sadly wasted by the film's attempt to be a Jack of all trades. There are a few redeeming features that prevent it from complete failure, but ultimately far too much has been crammed into far too little. It is indeed a shame, but what could have been a benchmark in horror history is unforgivably flawed.

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