Bloody Pit of Horror/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
"If I was still a reporter, I bet I could discover a lot of interesting facts about this castle" -- Our hero Rick (Walter Brandi) explains that his deductive skills have waned ever since he quit his job in the campy, but entertaining film Bloody Pit of Horror.
When a group of photographers and models break into a supposedly uninhabited castle in order to take some horror-themed pictures, they quickly discover that the castle actually does contain some residents. The head of the household is a former actor named Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay) who disappeared several years ago, but had only gone into hiding because he was crazy. At first, he wants everyone to leave, but he spies his former fiancee in the group and relents. Donning the outfit of a 17th century moral code enforcer named the Crimson Executioner (who also happened to live in that very same castle and was, himself, executed there), Travis starts capturing all of the cast and crew of the photo shoot and places them in elaborate torture devices with the intention of forcing them to repent their sins. It's up to ex-reporter Rick to help his friends and stop Travis/The Crimson Executioner before he can "avenge the people who killed him" (seeing as how the real executioner actually died over two-hundred years ago) and impose his twisted moral code.
Although the write-up for this film sounded like something I would find interesting, I was wary about actually watching it because I never like to believe what I read (especially since I always seem to get disappointed when I do finally see whatever it is I have read about). Thankfully, Bloody Pit of Horror actually seems to live up to what I had read about it, and that is perhaps one of the most surprising things about this film. One thing I always admire about a film is its ability to give its audience exactly what it promises and this film certainly does that.
As is obvious from the purported "source material", this film contains a lot of scenes involving medieval torture devices. The Marquis de Sade was very well known for his sado-masochistic tendencies and this film follows along in his sordid footsteps (with tongue planted firmly in cheek, though). Some of the tortures in this film are quite elaborate (though slightly unfeasible) for being ancient techniques, but they are pulled off very well. The more imaginative tortures in the film feature such devices as a rotating four-sided board with which you may strap people to while pushing a series of sharp swords ever closer to them as they pivot into harm's way or a stone platform that a person can be strapped face down on while a coal bed underneath them is fed until a healthy fire is started (thereby painfully heating up the stone bed, of course).
One torture in particular is ridiculous in concept, but great in execution. This torture features the victim caught in a spider web while a poisonous spider (built for the film by E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi) inches ever closer to killing them with its deadly bite. On top of this indignity, a massive series of taut wires (which are connected to loaded crossbows on the opposite end of the room) are also strung up to the contraption, so that anyone trying to escape or attempt a rescue will trigger a volley of deadly arrows. While this device looks great on screen and is a decent concept, the logistics of trying to actually string someone up in a trap like this is insane and doesn't seem worth the effort. Besides, it would take at least a full day to arm the crossbows alone for this torture, not to mention having to keep the spider fed in-between victims.
Though the rest of the actors in the film are given little to do, actor Mickey Hargitay hams it up in the role of the unbalanced Travis. Though his character comes off as being VERY foppish, he gets to say some of the most ridiculously over-blown lines in the history of film and he does it all with a straight face. That alone is commendable, in my book. For those who are unaware, Hargitay was actually the off-screen husband of the legendary Jayne Mansfield. I don't know how well his acting career panned out considering some of the films he has done, but I can imagine that being able to land the gorgeous Mansfield was a sure fire way to forget about any spoiled career. Mickey was with the bombshell for ten years prior to her tragic death, though, and even appeared in a "tribute" film for her the year after the accident that took her life.
Bloody Pit of Horror has been released on DVD through Image Entertainment and Something Weird Video. The film is presented in the 1.90.1 aspect ratio and the transfer is pretty decent (although the audio portion of the film sounds a bit scratchy). A Something Weird/Image disc wouldn't be the same unless it were packed with other oddities, and this disc is no different. Besides the original trailer for Bloody Pit of Horror (which looks terrible, but what can you expect for a 35 year old trailer for an exploitation film?), there are also the standard Horrorama radio spots which I find to be very entertaining, presented over a still gallery of exploitation film art.
Two excerpts from other films are also presented here. The first is an little Hawaiian number from a screwball comedy named Primitive Love (starring Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay) that begins with some topless women in a lake and ends with Hargitay carrying Mansfield into a cave on a stage and yelling at the staff at the restaurant where a show is taking place to "get back to work". The second is a really cool one entitled Cover Girl Slaughter, which is nothing more than a docu-clip about models being photographed for lurid novel covers or exploitation film posters. Although a good number of posters are either painted or digitally created nowadays, it is refreshing to see what this job might have looked like years ago.
The final extra feature on the disc is approximately fifteen minutes of deleted scenes. Starting off with an alternate opening which shows the film with the title A Tale of Torture, the scenes play out in a one long clip instead of actually being able to select which one you want to see. The scenes really add nothing back to the film (except for one scene of a guy actually breaking into the castle so they can gain access to shoot pictures, which doesn't appear in the final version, though the set-up for it does) and the pace of the film definitely benefits from them being removed. The scenes are interesting for curiosity's sake, but nothing else.
Review by Pockets of Sanity