The Pit and the Pendulum (1991 film)

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The Pit and the Pendulum
The Pit and the Pendulum (1991 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Produced by Albert Band
Charles Band
Michael Catalano
Written by Dennis Paoli
Based on Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Starring Lance Henriksen
Rona De Ricci
Jonathan Fuller
Jeffrey Combs
Tom Towles
Stephen Lee
William J. Norris
Frances Bay
Oliver Reed
Music by Richard Band
Cinematography Adolfo Bartoli
Edited by Andy Horvitch
Distributed by Full Moon Features
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment (2011 DVD)
Release dates
June 27, 1991
Running time
97 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $3,331 (USA)

The Pit and the Pendulum (released on DVD in the United States as The Inquisitor) is a 1991 horror film directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The film is an amalgamation of several of Poe's tales, including "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Cask of Amontillado". The film also appropriates the anecdote of "The Sword of Damocles", reassigning it to the character of Torquemada.


Set in Spain, 1492, Grand Inquisitor Torquemada leads a bloody reign of terror, torturing and killing in the name of religion. Upset with the way the Church is practicing torture, Maria speaks out during a public burning and whipping of a title-stripped family. Maria's own beauty leads Torquemada into temptation and brutal atonement. Confused over his desires, he accuses Maria of being a witch and to be tortured until confession. During Maria's interrogation, Torquemada cannot help but to stare at her naked body leading him to order her put in the prison. Imprisoned, Maria is befriended by Esmerelda, a confessed witch. Together they struggle to save themselves from the sinister Torquemada.

Outside the castle walls, Maria's husband Antonio breaks into the castle to rescue his innocent wife. After a failed escape, Antonio is imprisoned for his actions and Torquemada decides to test his new machine of pain on him; The Pit and the Pendulum.


Peter O'Toole was originally slated to play Torquemada[citation needed] and Billy Dee Williams was originally slated to play a character named Abdul.[citation needed] Sherilyn Fenn was originally slated to play Maria.[citation needed]


The film was given quick runs at many film festivals until its home video release in the summer of 1991. In 2000, Full Moon Features released a DVD of the film, which has now been discontinued for copyright reasons. Since then it has been released on DVD as part of the "Stuart Gordon Boxset", which also includes Castle Freak, Death Bed and a bonus disc.[citation needed] The film was re-released on DVD on 2 August 2011 by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.

The film was released on Blu-ray on April 30, 2013 by Full Moon and on August 12, 2013 by 88 Films in the UK.

Critical reception[edit]

The Pit and the Pendulum has received a mixed reception from critics, and currently holds a 50% 'rotten' rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Pit and the Pendulum - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 

External links[edit]