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With: Lance Henriksen, Rona De Ricci, Jonathan Fuller, Jeffrey Combs, Tom Towles, Stephen Lee, William J. Norris, Frances Bay, Oliver Reed
Written by: Dennis Paoli, based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Directed by: Stuart Gordon
MPAA Rating: R for scenes of torture and sex-related nudity, and for language
Running Time: 97
Date: 05/31/1991

The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Inquisition Imposition

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Taking a break from adapting H.P. Lovecraft to film, director Stuart Gordon turned to Edgar Allan Poe for The Pit and the Pendulum, also throwing in bits from the story "The Cask of Amontillado." Lance Henriksen plays a Grand Inquisitor during the 15th century in Spain. When a young woman, Maria (Rona De Ricci) speaks out during a public execution, he arrests her, but becomes obsessed by her beauty. He has himself flogged, but it doesn't help, so he accuses her of being a witch. She's thrown in prison with an actual witch. Meanwhile, her husband Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) tries to rescue her and ends up in the famous pit of the title. This must have been one of the most ambitious films ever made for Full Moon Features, with great-looking sets and costumes. Gordon can't quite get his dark humor and gore to fit seamlessly with the story, but there's enough mind-boggling stuff here to make it worth a look. Mark Margolis (later on Breaking Bad) co-stars, with Jeffrey Combs, and Oliver Reed.

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