The Pit and the Pendulum Review

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It’s time to look at one of those horror films where you know that someone’s gonna turn crazy from the get go. It takes place at an old castle and people have been mysteriously dying. You can’t really draw any other conclusion than this as a result right? The cast of characters is rather small, but as all of them are fairly annoying you begin to wish there were even fewer characters. It’s a pretty bad film that just stays very dreary throughout. You’ll be waiting for some life to be inserted into the film only to no avail.

The film starts off with Francis running to the mansion of Nicholas since he has heard that his sister died. Nicholas explains that she was sick, but forgets to get on the same page as Doctor Leon so the story is botched from the start. Francis quickly demands an explanation, but he isn’t getting one. That’s when Nicholas starts to go crazy and the cast hears a ghost from the great beyond. Is it possible that the sister still is in fact alive or is there something else at play here?

First off, the villains aren’t very smart here. So of course, you’ve got the “ghost.” Her role is to convince Nicholas that he is insane so his mind can break and she can then finish him off. The problem is that turning him insane would likely just make him even more dangerous so I don’t see how that would help. The odds of Nicholas just fainting and dying the way that they all envisioned just doesn’t seem all that likely. Even when the plan seems to work they don’t try finishing him off. Instead they decide to waste time gloating about it and rubbing their victory in his face. Naturally Nicholas doesn’t like this very much and retaliates.

Meanwhile you have Francis who is oblivious to all of this. He starts off by talking a big game, but very quickly you realize that this is all hot air. He is completely outmatched against the others. Nicholas takes him out with a single back hand. Sure, Francis was right to be skeptical so it’s good that he didn’t leave but at the same time he should have been more afraid to fight. What was his plan if Nicholas was the cruel murderer that Francis thought he might be? The lead can’t fight for beans so I think he should have thought this whole thing through a little more.

Then you’ve got the tragic backstory for Nicholas which just makes everyone look even worse. It turns out that his Uncle and Mother colluded against his father in secret so the guy murdered both of them. Now in the present this situation has gone full circle with other characters. That’s why you probably want to be careful when your house has an actual torture chamber inside of it. Definitely a very dark element and it’s used in both the flashback and the present day adventure. Even the twist ending opts to go for a more tragic route as opposed to being a hype one where the monster escapes. Someone is stuck in a cage with no foreseeable way out which is a pretty brutal way to go.

I suppose the script isn’t all that bad. The characters are all very theatrical and like to make sure that everyone knows what a tough journey they’ve had. All of the characters throw a lot of banter around and speak on each other’s behalf. You’re supposed to trust person B because A says so and vice versa. With nobody willing to tell the full truth you have to discern what is happening based on obvious plot devices and the subtext of what they’re saying. Unfortunately Francis isn’t quite ready for such a revelation.

While the character he is playing is no good, Vincent Price still does a good job of playing the same character he always does. He’s one of the most consistent actors from back in the day. I can’t say that I really follow too many actors/actresses because acting ability tends to look basically the same to me regardless of who it is, but in the modern day Tom Cruise is an example of a solid actor who always seems to be playing the same character and that’s why it works well. Likewise Vincent Price seemed to be that way in the old adventures. No matter what character he is playing you will likely recognize the guy almost immediately. It’s also the tip off to how you know he will turn evil by the end. That’s basically how it always goes.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend checking this film out. If you want a grim tale from the olden days then this could work for you though. One aspect of these old films that makes the situations feel a lot more dangerous than modern ones is the fact that nobody is around to help. This film takes place in a very remote area where nobody lives for miles. You can’t hail a cab and there aren’t any cell phones either. Escape would be rather difficult at best and while Francis could still make a run for it, you can see why the situation is rather dire. It’s hard to recreate that sense of tension in a modern film although I’m sure they try their best. Now, if you want a much better horror film with plot twists and a character trying to find out the truth, check out the edited version of House instead. Now that one delivers on being quality entertainment.

Overall 2/10

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Extraordinary Tales Review

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It’s time to take a look at an anthology based on stories from the famous Poe. Unfortunately, I was never a big fan of this format as it really limits what you can tell in a story. There’s also the issue of the animation in this film being quite dreadful. It would have looked underwhelming 20 years ago so there’s no excuse for it. I’ll break this film down story by story.

The film started off with my favorite tale which is always an interesting tactic. Typically you want to end on a high note instead, but you can draw in the viewer this way I suppose. There were two pals who hung out together for a while, but eventually they drifted apart. Years later, they had a get together, but the friend bad changed. He could not be near sunlight anymore because of his being in the dark for so long. Making matters worse is the fact that the house seems haunted and a dead person frequents the halls. A single contact with this dead being would mean instant death.

It is a decently fun story. As I mentioned already, I thought that it was the best one on the whole batch. The sudden tackle at the end was pure hype and it was almost like a fight scene. It was a horror ending done right if I do say so myself. The main character got his happy ending but lives with the knowledge of these events so its not a total win win, but not a full loss for him either.

Another story decided to go with PS2 graphics as the CGI went full blast. A guy is thrown into an elaborate series of death traps and he has to try and survive. Are these trials real or is he just having delusions at the moment? I’m inclined to say that most of it is real at any rate. The animation was a step up from some of the other segments, but it is still very past its time. I’ve seen better animation on Cartoon Network. The segment wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say that it was all that good either. It starts to drag on a bit after a while and I think some dialogue would have been very welcome here. Of course, the film is mostly a silent one anyway but dialogue, if written well, can really help at times.

Another segment saw a crazed man decide to destroy his teacher. The guy’s heartbeat annoyed him, which is why he decided to make the kill. It was a unique excuse I suppose, but it didn’t do the guy any favors. I was glad that the cops were pretty sharp this time though. They weren’t messing around ultimately outwitted the guy. It was too bad for the helpless old man though and at least he had a cool Eagle Eye. Actually, I think that was the excuse used by the murderer now that I think about it. Next time he’ll know better than to mess with the proper authorities.

Let’s head on to the next story. One guy decided to make a deal with a shady doctor about his life. When the guy was about to die, he would allow the other man to hypnotize him so see if it was possible to cheat death. Essentially, the dying man was hypnotized into waking up even after he was dead and it worked to a slight extent as it did prolong his life, but not for very long and the guy essentially blew up anyway. This segment was mostly just a little grotesque with the imagery and I’m sure that we all saw the ending coming. Man can never overcome death with whatever sciences are developed. You may as well try bringing a bucket to stop a flood. Next to the last segment, this was probably my least favorite one.

The final story was easily the worst one and the segment where the movie jumps the shark. It was about the seven deadly sins and how they overpowered the few human survivors. They were ready to die due to a powerful plague so they figured that they may as well lose their morals on the way to their death. Unfortunately, as this is an indie film, it has no qualms exploiting its poor animation as an excuse to show some nudity. If the animation was actually good, I doubt it would have been able to get away with such a tactic. Either way, as with Soul Eater and Skip Beat, it doomed the score and sent it into the cruncher. Without that, I’m sure that the film could have maybe managed a 3 or so, but this was the final nail on the coffin so to speak. There’s no meed to go all the way in the segment just to prove a point. I made a similar comment on the train scene in Madoka Magica a while back. Ah well, game over I suppose.

Aside from the stories, we also had a talk with a Raven and a statue who was the living embodiment of death. They talked about death a lot and the statue kept reminding the Raven that he was already dead so she had won the battle. He couldn’t really deny this and tried to distract her with red herrings and just dodging the point in general, but he ultimately could not stop her. This part was pretty interesting and while it would probably drag out for some if it lasted the whole 70 minutes, I think that would have been the more interesting film. Philosophical discussions on death are always pretty interesting to me. It could really be discussions on just about anything and it’ll typically be interesting since I get to write out my response to it or if it’s a super easy discussion, then I just say a yay or a nay.

Overall, it’s easy to see why this film is not all that popular. It’s very new and yet there doesn’t even seem to be a Wikipedia page on it. At the very least, the page doesn’t pop up right away on Google Search. One of the main problems is certainly the terrible animation. If the film had proper animation, it may have decided not to take as many risks and could have focused on telling some good stories. As it was, I wouldn’t consider any of the stories to be all that good aside from the first one. They could also tone down the violence somewhat and would need too if it had good animation since one segment had people being chopped, thrown away, and of course one guy was all but exploding in another scene. If you’re looking for your horror fix, then I suggest that you look elsewhere. Check out Scooby Doo Zombie Island instead.

Overall 0/10