29 September 2009

6WH: September 29th

Pit and the Pendulum (1961) directed by Roger Corman
Knowing in-laws would be using my TV room as a bedroom later in the night, I watched this film on Hulu during the day. I was impressed that the movie was in its proper aspect ratio. Nice to see 2.35:1 films aren't being butchered for the "fill-my-screen" morons, even on a streaming service.

This is definitely one of Corman's best films, up there with Little Shop and X. Likely, the solid script from genre god Richard Matheson helped, but Corman's got himself some nice sets, great performances and stylized flashback scenes in here as well. It's a tale of adultery and revenge, but told in such a manner to keep your guessing until near the end.

It's interesting to see differing interpretations of classic stories. I'm a long-time fan of Stuart Gordon's adaption (called The Inquisitor on the title screen). Corman's film is more distant from the original story, which took place during the Spanish Inquisition. It also lacks -- perhaps the second-most memorable part of the story after the titular device -- the rats that free the man trapped under the pendulum. Gordon's film had both of these elements, though both have to make up a whole lot of other stuff in order to fill an hour and a half. The original story is essentially one man's experience in a dark room with a sharp blade. Strangely, the torture of women figures into both films. A reflection on the horror genre in general? (7/10)