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The Pit and the Pendulum (Midnite Movies)


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Frequently Bought Together

The Pit and the Pendulum (Midnite Movies) + The Fall of the House of Usher (Midnite Movies) + The Haunted Palace & The Tower of London (Midnite Movies Double Feature)
Price for all three: $64.76

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Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone
  • Directors: Roger Corman
  • Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson
  • Producers: Roger Corman, James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AUK4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,047 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pit and the Pendulum (Midnite Movies)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Original theatrical prologue

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The Fall of the House of Usher's success in 1960 spurred American International Pictures to quickly launch another production based on an Edgar Allan Poe story. While producer-director Roger Corman had hoped to next adapt "The Masque of the Red Death" (which wasn't produced until 1964), Pit and the Pendulum (the onscreen title) became the second in AIP's long-running Poe series. Set in post-Inquisition Spain, the film stars John Kerr as a young Englishman who travels to the seaside castle of his brother-in-law (Vincent Price) to uncover the circumstances behind the death of his sister (a dubbed Barbara Steele). Price is tormented by memories of his mother's premature burial by his inquisitor father (also Price) and fears that this sadistic legacy has contributed to Steele's demise. Furthermore, he believes that Steele was also buried alive--a belief compounded by the mysterious destruction of her room, and the sound of her harpsichord playing in the night...

Structured almost identically to Usher, Richard Matheson's script fleshes out the brief original text with a fast-paced and twist-filled plot that never loses sight of the psychological themes of Poe's work. It also provides Price with the richest of his many AIP/Poe roles, a sympathetic, deeply emotional man who is unhinged by the sins of his father. Corman's direction is equally driven and fluid, and features some impressive quasi-psychedelic visuals in the tense climax. Also noteworthy is art director's Daniel Haller's impressive design of the title set piece. MGM's widescreen DVD features commentary by Corman, which focuses primarily on the film's technical aspects. Also included is the original trailer and a prologue (shot by Norma Rae producer Tamara Asseyev) featuring costar Luana Anders, which was added to fill out the film's 1968 television broadcast. --Paul Gaita

Customer Reviews

One of the best scenes in any horror film ever made!
David Von Pein
I consider this a classic along with "Masque of the Red Death", "House of Usher" and "Tomb of Ligeia".
Mark Norvell
Great gothic atmosphere, eerie music, and georgously vivid and horrific set pieces.
Arthur Pace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Rodden II on November 17, 2001
Format: DVD
I just about fell over backwards when I bought my copy of this DVD. As part of the special features, it includes an audio commentary by Roger Corman!
MGM Midnight Movies keep coming out, and my collection keeps growing. When I think of Vincent Price and Roger Corman, this gem is the movie that comes to mind. It is the perfect late-night horror film. If you've seen this movie on VHS, you know what I mean, but you're not getting the whole thing until you get this widescreen DVD.
The quality of the film it perfect. I saw no noticable wear of picture quality. The sound it fantastic. Vincent Price's perfomance as the tortured and soon demented son of a mad Spanish Inquisitioner is perfectly played out. The lonely castle setting is pure gothic. The interiors of castle give the feeling of wondering in a huge and rambling castle. Barbara Steele is pefectly wicked and sexy. The love story between the hero and heroine never really developes, but who cares! We want to see Vincent go mad and take his revenge.
After I watched the film, I watched it again with the audio commentary turned on. It was fun hearing Roger Corman explain some of his movie tricks for giving depth and beauty to one of his low-budget masterpieces. Normally, the MGM Midnight Movie films only include scene access and the theatrical preview as the extras, so this was a fantastic extra for no extra cost!
Keep 'em coming MGM. You put them in the store, I'll put them in my collection!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
After the success of "House of Usher," American International asked director Roger Corman to "adapt" another Edgar Allen Poe work to the screen. "The Pit and the Pendulum" seemed the logical choice, although the story itself is essentially unfilmable. Fortunately, screenwriter Richard Matheson (who did some of his best work for Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone") simply reused the "House of Usher" story line and tacked on "The Pit and the Pendulum" as the climatic scene. As long as Vincent Price was engaged in his celebrated over the top performance as Nicholas Medina, neither horror fans nor American lit majors were going to notice in this 1961 film.
The film is set in 16th century Spain as young Francis Barnard (John Kerr) arrives at the castle of Don Nicholas Medina (Price) to investigate the death of his sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), the Don's wife. But all Francis gets from Nicholas is a...story about Elizabeth dying from "something in her blood." The young man investigates further and discovers that Nicholas had driven Elizabeth over the edge. It seems that Nicholas's father Sebastian was a leader of the Spanish Inquisition, had killed hundreds of people in the castle's crypts and had caught his wife in adultery with his brother. Young Nicholas watched his father bury his mother alive in a wall (sound familiar Poe fans?) and ended up scarred for life (you think?). Meanwhile, Nicholas is being haunted by ghostly going ons and becomes convinced he has buried his wife alive and she has returned to haunt him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on July 11, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Pit and the Pendulum (1961) was the 2nd of numerous successful Edgar Allan Poe inspired collaborations (the first being 1960's The Fall of the House of Usher) between writer/producer/director Roger Corman (It Conquered the World, Teenage Cave Man, The Little Shop of Horrors), writer Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man, House of Usher, Tales of Terror), actor Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler), and American International Pictures or AIP, for short. Also appearing here along with Price is Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Castle of Blood), John Kerr (Tea and Sympathy, South Pacific), Luana Anders (Easy Rider, The Last Detail), and Antony Carbone (A Bucket of Blood, Last Woman on Earth).

The movie, set in 16th century Spain, begins as we see a man riding in a carriage along a coast approaching a matte painting of an ominous castle. The driver, unwilling to go all the way (isn't that always the case?), drops the man off a good distance from the matte painting...er, I mean castle, where he then has to hoof it the rest of the way. Turns out the man is named Francis Barnard (Kerr), and he's come all the way from England to inquire about the untimely demise of his sister, Elizabeth (Steele). Seems she married one Nicholas Medina (Price), moved into his castle, and then passed away under mysterious circumstances. As Francis arrives at the castle, he meets Nicholas' sister Catherine (Anders), who's returned home to look after the welfare of her brother (apparently Nicholas doted on his wife, and is taking her loss particularly hard). Soon Doctor Charles Leon (Carbone) makes the scene, and Francis learns his sister contracted some strange ailment Nicholas believes came from the `atmospheric miasma of barbarity that permeates the walls of the castle'...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Keeneye Reviews on August 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This brilliant horror classic brought together the talents of a remarkable cast of actors in a memorable tale of madness, murder, torture, and revenge in 16th century Spain.
Vincent Price plays Nicholas Medina, an aristocrat suffering the recent loss of his beloved wife Elizabeth. John Kerr plays Elizabeth's brother Francis Barnard, and Luana Anders shines as Medina's gentle sister Catherine. Rounding out the cast is Anthony Carbone as Medina's treacherous physician Dr. Leon and Barbara Steele as Medina's adulterous wife Elizabeth.
The story in brief: Barnard arrives unbidden at Medina's lonely castle to investigate his sister Elizabeth's sudden death. He is welcomed with some hesitation by Elizabeth's widower Nicholas Medina and his sister Catherine. The youth receives confusing accounts of his sister's death from Medina as well as from the family physician Dr. Leon and resolves to remain until his questions are satisfied.
Spookery through the night and the next morning suggest Elizabeth's spirit walks the corridors of the castle. With great anguish, Medina decides to open Elizabeth's tomb; a rotting corpse is discovered and it is then Medina's greatest fear is realized -- Elizabeth was buried alive and died in suffocating agony. Medina stoically resigns himself to awaiting his wife's vengeance from the grave.
Elizabeth did not die however. She is alive and scheming with her lover Dr. Leon to rid herself of Medina once and for all. In the dead of night, she lures Medina to a long neglected torture chamber in the bowels of the castle with the intention of delivering her coup de grace.
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