Monday, December 7, 2009

1961 - THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM the 2nd in Corman's Edgar Allen Poe series

Roger Corman's close but no cigar adaptation of this Edgar Allen Poe story.  For a film with really bright bright colors, Corman managed to work up a lot of atmosphere with the creepy castle, hidden passages and of course the thunderstorm stuff he sticks in the film. 

Probably the real auteur of The Pit and the Pendulum,  is the screenwriter Richard Matheson who had to take a Poe story which as I recall is about 4 pages long or so with no plot or characters and flesh it out for about 80 minutes not an inconsiderable achievement.  Matheson was probably one of the most important fantasy/science fiction writers in entertainment, he wrote for the original Twilight Zone series and the original Star Trek series.  He was also the writer for one of Spielberg's better films Duel.  Matheson was the original author of I am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere in Time, The Night Stalker, and let's not forget to throw in an episode of The Girl From UNCLE.

Truth be told the acting is not so hot.  Most of the performers sound pretty stiff and stilted  the exception being Vincent Price who overacts pretty shamelessly.

Obviously everything leads up to the famous slice the guy in half with the razor sharp pendulum scene at the end of the film and it's still pretty effective for an early 60's film. 

Corman's about three years away from making his artsy fartsy Poe films,  The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligela.

85 minutes.

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