Arrow video continues the release of Vincent Price horror films with the Blu ray of the classic Pit And The Pendulum. During the early 1960’s Roger Corman directed a number of Edgar Allen Poe stories including this one which, although it was originally a very short story, he had it expanded by prolific writer Richard Matheson.
Set in post-Inquisition Spain, the film stars John Kerr as a young Englishman who travels to the seaside castle of his brother-in-law (Vincent Price) to uncover the circumstances behind the death of his sister (Barbara Steele). Price is tormented by memories of his mother’s premature burial by his inquisitor father and fears that this sadistic legacy has contributed to Steele’s demise. Furthermore, he believes that his wife was also buried alive–a belief compounded by the mysterious destruction of her room, and the sound of her harpsichord playing in the night…
The film uses the widescreen frame beautifully with vivid colours and great composition. the set designs are appropriately gothic and imposing (Corman, always with a tiny budget, often used the same ones in multiple films). Price is great as always, if a little over the top, driven crazy by the death of his loved ones. Barbara Steele has great screen presence as his wife and the film comes to a satisfying climax, the swinging pendulum of the title is especially memorable.
The release by Arrow has a very good 1080p transfer with a very high bit rate. Colours look fantastic showing off the cinematography to great effect. Audio has a clean linear PCM mono track again fine and replicating the original soundtrack perfectly.
Extras are again excellent, Arrow certainly don’t skimp on this release. Firstly there are two audio commentaries, the first by director Roger Corman and an even better one by film critic Tim Lucas. Also, you have a comprehensive and very interesting making-of feature exclusive to Arrow, featuring Roger Corman, Barbara Steele, and many others. Also, you have a rare TV show from 1970, An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe in which Price reads a collection of classic Poe stories before a live audience.
The quality is a bit ropey but its a fascinating and excellent extra. Finally, there is a 5 minute added TV sequence shot for the first TV broadcasts of the film. To round off a great package you have a collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film as well as archive content and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork. Look out for the limited Steelbook edition also.
Another fine release from Arrow and if your a fan of the film a must buy.
FILM: 7 PICTURE: 8.5 SOUND: 7 EXTRAS: 9