Thursday, October 22, 2009

31 days of Halloween: Pit and the Pendulum

Pit and the Pendulum is a 1961 horror film by the master, Edgar Allan Poe. The film was directed by Roger Corman (the guy behind all those schlocky films of the last 60 years), and based on a screenplay adapted by the ever fantastic Richard Matheson (who I talked about just a few days ago). The film stars Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, and Patrick Westwood.

I was surprised by this. Corman's direction while solidly established in that era's horror genre "conventions" - color scheme, same film stock, similar but probably different castle sets. I am sure I've read the original Poe story, but to the life of me I can't really recall it. We were so inundated with "The Raven" year after year that that may actually have been the only Poe story I actually know! The film does a pretty decent job from a screenplay aspect of creating a moody, atmospheric work that builds slowly over an hour before the real fun starts.

Francis (Kerr) travels to Spain to meet his late sister's husband, Don Nicholas Medina (Price), who remains in a family home that once belonged to Medina's father - a notorious butcher during the Inquisition. Medina assues Francis that the death was an accident, but Francis suspects differently.

Not exactly memorable, but certainly watchable. A film to see Roger Corman directing at his best, and just see Vincent Price on screen.

*** out of *****

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