Pit and the Pendulum, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus goes technical with his review to avoid getting cut in half by Vincent Price
Francis Barnard (John Kerr) is brought to a cliff top castle after the sudden death of his sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). Greeted by Nicholas (Vincent Price) who insists Elizabeth had died of a weak heart, Francis sticks around to find out the truth but the truth at the bottom of this mystery may very well end in Francis’s own demise.
The obvious HD enhancements here aren’t immediately impressive but they soon sneak up on you. First it’s the colours, which are lively and often striking with the warm skins tones and wonderful set decorations. Then it’s the details on show, especially with the flamboyant costumes and Gothic sets. Before you know it, everything all comes together and looks pretty great. Previous Corman/Price release Fall Of The House of Usher had a more colourful look but that’s largely due to its more comic book approach but this darker, slightly more realistic styled film has been equally well handled.
Of course, some scenes aren’t quite as impressive with muted colours and a more natural overall look but sharper edges remain consistent and other than the gritty appearance due to the layer of grain, which varies in intensity depending on if the scene is set in and out of the mansion, very little feels lacking with the presentation. There was the odd bit of noticeable damage and dirt but even that isn’t frequent enough to reduce the overall effect here. Black levels all hold up very well as does everything in contrast to them. In fact the further I went into the film the more I was impressed with the overall look of it.
The audio presentation is distinctly mono, hollow and central and full of hiss and crackles. Loud noises can be extremely tinny and when sound effects and dialogue compete its quite a painful attack on the ears. The string based score holds up much better than the dialogue and sound effects do as it manages to still feel powerful and sweeping at its most effective. All in all this is a track that feels ages and is it’s own limitations against. It certainly feels like we’re getting an authentic audio experience with this release but don’t be expecting miracles.
The commentary with Roger Corman is more a series of small bursts of background knowledge and he paint a very detailed picture of the film's creation.
The second commentary with Tim Lucas is more of a technical beat by beat account of what we are seeing on screen. Techniques used, ideas behind plot points and pretty much any detail you’d require about the making of the film essentially.
The optional ‘Isolated Music and Effects’ show off the best parts of the mono track well and moving on the ‘The Story Behind The Swinging Blade' (43:07 HD)’ we get a nice in depth look at the film’s creation from Corman and plenty of history around it.
‘An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe’ (53:07 SD) is a wonderful TV show from 1970 with Vincent Price narrating stories in front of a live audience. It’s not the greatest quality but its still a great look at Price at work and loving every minute of what he’s doing.
‘Added Television Sequence’ (05:04 HD) is a short sequence added to boost the runtime for TV broadcast and the original theatrical trailer rounds up the disc.
The Pit and Pendulum is more of the same kooky Gothic oddness that The Fall Of The House of Usher served up previously. There’s a fair few repetitive beats from other films but Vincent Price still does what he does best and adds an infinite amount of appeal to the unravelling mystery about just what is going on in this strange house.
The disc is another great looking arrow disc, the audio is lacking but largely due to the source material but Arrow sure make up for it with the extras which are once again full of detailed, in depth extras that give you all you need to know about this horror classic.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 19th May 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Mono 1.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Commentaries, Documentary, Isolated Music and Effects’ , An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe, Added Scene, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Roger Corman
Cast: Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr
Length: 80 minutes
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