Quiet day at work. Why not put on a VHS tape? The Pit and the Pendulum (1991 version directed by Stuart Gordon), was one I got in a bulk lot, and thought, hey why not give it a go? Obviously this one is based on a short story originally written by Edgar Allan Poe. This means it has some lofty standards to live up to. From the outset, it becomes clear this is a quite well-made film, no major stars outside Lance Hendriksen as the Inquisitor, but great film work make this instantly likeable. The actress that plays Maria is super cute too. I felt good about this film living up to the story and doing it justice. This film, whilst filmed after the heyday of Hammer Films, has a very similar feel to those films. And it compares rather well I think.


The film itself opens up in rather curious circumstances, in the time frame of the Spanish Inquisition, where an inquistor is declaring a corpse a heretic and punishing it to the whip, whilst stripping the surviving family of assetts which of course the church is happy to appropriate. The film continues against the backdrop of the Inquisition with more “heretics” being put to death. In particular a young couple, Antonio and Maria land themselves in hot water when Maria is arrested on charges of being “Enthralled by the devil”. Despite Antonio’s pleas, the poor Woman is questioned and imprisoned.

Some kinky scenes follow with the chief inquisitor submitting himself to a whipping as some sort of holy penance (He was obviously having lusty thoughts of the questioning of Maria). One thing about this film it really does highlight the aspect of retarded sexuality prevailing in the catholic church, and the way the church dealt with it in those times. A spectre that still hangs over the church now.

Antonio, of course wants to rescue his love, and breaks into the castle. Unfortunately, our hero, too is captured. What is to become of poor Maria? Can Antonio save her? Well, to find that out you’d have to watch the film!


I really enjoyed watching The Pit and the Pendulum, as mentioned before it is a well shot film, the plot holds water (well, it is based off an Edgar Allan Poe Story) and most of the dialogue and acting is pretty good as well. The movie gained an “R” rating, There’s a reasonable level of nudity / sauciness and sexual violence. This isn’t an overly severe or offensive film, but the gore levels are quite respectable. Especially for a film that isn’t centred on gore. Probably not one to watch the kids either way though. Over all no complaints with the film, infact, I really enjoyed it! On the off chance you can find this film anywhere it’s definitely worth a watch!

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