The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)


‘Pit And The Pendulum’ sees b-grade legend Roger Corman (‘Little Shop Of Horrors’), talented suspense writer Richard Matheson (‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’), and horror master Vincent Price (‘The Tingler’) try and recreate the success of their first Poe adaptation ‘House Of Usher’. And they do so admirably, ‘… Pendulum’ being even better than the excellent ‘… Usher’. Matheson cleverly expands upon Poe’s original tale by also mixing in elements from the earlier movie, ‘The Premature Burial’ and other Poe classics. John Kerr is the one weak link in this first rate thriller. An actor I’m not familiar with, he is dull and not all that good. Much better is Antony Carbone (who Corman fans will recognize from ‘A Bucket Of Blood’) as Price’s doctor pal, and the underrated Luana Anders (‘Dementia 13’, ‘Easy Rider’) as Price’s sister. Price himself is wonderful as usual as the tormented Don Medina, and an added bonus is the appearance of enduring cult figure, and one of the most beautiful actresses in movie history, Barbara Steele (‘Black Sunday’, ‘Shivers’). Steele doesn’t get as much screen time as one would wish but it’s a joy to see her work alongside Price, sadly their only movie together. ‘Pit And The Pendulum’ is one of Corman’s best horror movies, and one that will surprise many viewers today with just how atmospheric and creepy it still is. An extremely underrated film (as are Corman’s other 60s Poe adaptations), and one that is a must see for all horror buffs. Highly recommended.

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