The Dead Pit

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The Dead Pit
DVD cover of the movie The Dead Pit.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Brett Leonard
Produced by Gimel Everett
Written by
  • Jeremy Slate
  • Cheryl Lawson
  • Stephen Gregory Foster
  • Danny Gochnauer
Cornerstone Production
Distributed by Imperial Entertainment (VHS)
Release date
  • 1989 (1989)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Dead Pit is a 1989 American horror film. It was co-written and directed by Brett Leonard, and is his directorial debut. Cheryl Lawson stars as a mental patient who must defeat an undead serial killer who previously worked at the asylum, played by Danny Gochnauer.


The Dead Pit opens with Dr. Ramzi, a brilliant yet insane doctor who has been running horrible experiments on his patients in an effort to master death, being killed and buried in the basement of a mental health facility. Twenty years later, the hospital is running again and Jane Doe arrives at the institute. Upon her arrival, a major earthquake rocks the building and unearths the now undead Dr. Ramzi and his legion of zombie patients.


  • Jeremy Slate as Dr. Gerald Swan
  • Cheryl Lawson as Jane Doe
  • Stephen Gregory Foster as Christian Meyers
  • Danny Gochnauer as Dr. Ramzi


Filming took place at Agnew's Development Center in Santa Clara, California. Ken Kesey had previously used this as the setting for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.[1]


The United States premiere was in October 1989.[2]

Home video[edit]

  • The original US VHS release from Imperial Entertainment housed the film in a relief cover that lit up the eyes of the main zombie when a button was pushed. This version was cut to receive an R-rating.
  • The US company Code Red DVD released the film on DVD June 17, 2008. Special features include commentaries from Brett Leonard and late actor Jeremy Slate as well as an interview with Cheryl Lawson, the original theatrical trailer, and other trailers for upcoming Code Red releases. The version released by Code Red is an unrated director's cut, featuring six additional minutes of cut footage.[3]


The Dead Pit received positive reviews upon release from Fangoria and Slaughterhouse.[citation needed] Fangoria later included the film in its 101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen, where they wrote, "This serious attempt at horror never quite hits its mark, evolving into a series of gory laughs, which is what is so endearing about it."[1] Drive-In critic Joe Bob Briggs gave the film four stars (his highest rating) and praised lead Cheryl Lawson's screaming ability.[4] Steve Barton of Dread Central rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote, "For me, Dead Pit is more than a guilty pleasure. It’s a movie so bad that it's hard not to enjoy it."[5] Marc Patterson of Brutal as Hell called it "low budget filmmaking at its finest".[6] Bill Gibron of DVD Talk rated it 2/5 stars and described it as "a simple slasher film upended by a Lucio Fulci inspired unnecessary unleashing of the living dead".[7] In The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle wrote, "Leonard's uninvolving psychological horror revels in shock effects and disrupted narrative logic, poured into the tired dreamworld and asylum settings of Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellbound."[8]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lukeman, Adam (2011). "The Dead Pit". Fangoria's 101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307523471.
  2. ^ Firestone, Dan (1989-10-22). "Director Heads Home with Zombies in Tow". The Toledo Blade. p. D1.
  3. ^ future releases page
  4. ^ The Dead Pit
  5. ^ Barton, Steve (2008-06-19). "Dead Pit (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  6. ^ Patterson, Marc (2009-02-22). "DVD Review: Dead Pit". Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  7. ^ Gibron, Bill (2008-10-29). "The Dead Pit". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  8. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.