The Pit and The Pendulum (1961)

Day 6: A movie starring Vincent Price.

I enjoy older films like this, and I usually find that if I can get past the pacing of these 1960’s films then they really become worth the watch. This one was a bit of a slog but Price’s performance is something special, and the set design is amazing. If you find yourself inclined to check this film out, I’d recommend reading Poe’s short story first, you can find it here: The Pit and the Pendulum (americanliterature.com).


"A man and his wife had lived in Medina Castle.

His father had built quite a table.

Her brother came snooping,

And found himself pooping

As the blade swung so medieval."



The Cast:

Vincent Price leads this classic tale as Nicholas Medina with an eccentric performance that is exemplified by his facial features. Mr. Price’s angular eyebrows and thin mustache frame his face offering up insane amounts of expression. There’s no surprise why this man’s name is in the books. I had never seen a Vincent Price flick before this one, and I loved everything he brought to the table. Barbara Steele takes up the role of Elizabeth Bernard Medina, Nicholas Medina’s wife. She offers a beautifully maniacal smile to the flick and builds scenes up with Vincent Price to a worthwhile climax. John Kerr, as Francis Bernard, is the last key player and our protagonist. He is just likable enough, for the first portion of the film, but as the show goes on it is clear we’re here to see Price’s performance as he tortures poor Francis.


The Story and The History:

The Pit and The Pendulum is a story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1842. Not only was this my introduction to Vincent Price, but also Poe! From what I understand Roger Corman took liberties in order to adapt this senses-focused story to the big screen; for example, Roger Corman really brought the plot to the forefront. The story builds loosely on the Spanish Inquisition of the 16th century, where a man grows concerned for his sister’s well-being, and sets out to check on her. He is welcomed into Medina Castle by her husband. Nicholas Medina breaks it to Francis that his sister had been driven mad by the room beneath the castle, and locked herself inside of an Iron Maiden where she succumbed to a heart attack. Does her spirit haunt the castle? Is she driving Nicholas Medina insane? Before Francis can get to safety he is introduced to THE PIT… and the pendulum!


6/10


For My Readers

Hey guys, I’ve been writing these reviews and chiseling out my corner of the internet, but I’m finding it hard to know what I’m doing right, and what I may be doing wrong. I’d appreciate feedback in the comments section if you have a minute or two. I’m going to be listing a couple of questions at the end of each post from now on, and if you don’t want to give me feedback on the blog itself then I hope you at least walk away thinking some of this content over.


  1. Do you watch films of the 1960s, if not why?

  2. Is it the pacing?

  3. Is the ‘over the top’ acting leftover from the silent era distracting to you?

  4. If you took the time to read Poe’s short story and watch Roger Corman’s adaptation, how do you think they correlate, do you prefer one over the other?

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