Monday, 23 December 2013

The Pit and The Pendulum

"The Pit and The Pendulum" (1961, Roger Corman, American International Pictures) is one of my favourite Vincent Price films and is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

It's 16th century Spain and a young man, Francis Barnard (John Kerr), has travelled from England to the castle where his recently deceased sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), lived with her nobleman husband, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price). He is greeted with suspicion by the butler and urged to leave, but upon meeting Nicholas' sister Catherine (Luana Anders) he is permitted entrance to the castle.

He is at first told that Elizabeth died of an unexplained heart complication, however, as the story progresses more details of Elizabeth's sticky end are revealed. It is upon the discovery of Nicholas' father's torture chamber that the final ghastly details are slipped and we begin to find that Nicholas is becoming severely unhinged with guilt and fear. Under the guidance of his physician, Dr. Leon (Antony Carbone), Nicholas exhumes the body of Elizabeth to find that his worst fear is apparently true; she was buried alive!

Believing that he is being haunted by the vengeful spirit of Elizabeth, Nicholas slips into insanity,  rampaging terribly and using his father's torturous devices. However, all may not be as it seems...

A riveting tale and one of my favourite performances from Price as the tortured but twisted Medina. An atmosphere from the sparse, classic surroundings really lends itself to the film and the haunting ending really works.
 
 
[Image: American International Pictures]
Hani