Spain, 16th century: learning of the mysterious demise of his sister, Francis Barnard (John Kerr) decides to investigate and he goes to the castle where she had lived with her husband, the aristocrat Don Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price). There he is given only vague explanations by his brother-in-law until the latter admits that he had, in a fit of madness, buried her alive after he discovered her adultery.
If he was an incredible talent scout - he produced Martin Scorsese and launched the career of Robert De Niro - Roger Corman was also brilliant behind the camera. Over a period of fifteen years, he made nearly forty series B films, eight of which were adapted from the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
A slow creeping ascent towards terror.
For The Pit and the Pendulum, Roger Corman and his scriptwriter, author Richard Matheson, chose to take some distance from the playwright's novella of the same name as the film, published in 1842.
If it distances itself from this classic literary fantasy, the film nevertheless remains true to the Gothic, macabre and oppressive world described by Edgar Allan Poe and his dramatisation, sustained by psychedelic flashbacks, to create a slow creeping ascent towards terror.
As with a number of Roger Corman's feature films, The Pit and the Pendulum was shot very quickly and with a strict economy of means. The filming was mainly done in the studio and without recourse to any very elaborate special effects.
Supported by the anguished soundtrack of Les Baxter, the film plays on the viewer's nerves. It is today one of the masterpieces of the American horror film genre from the 1960s.
A presentation by MGM Studios/Park Circus.
35mm copy destined to the preservation of the film carried out jointly by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and producer Jon Davison, from the original negative by Fotokem Los Angeles, with Mato DerAvanessian, under the supervision of Roger Corman. Digital restoration of the damaged shots reinserted into the roll of film.