The great success of The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) naturally led to more adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s work from American International Pictures. The second, and most famous, of these was The Pit and the Pendulum, which reunited many of the same team who worked on Usher, including star Vincent Price and director Roger Corman.
Price plays Nicholas Medina, who is visited in his 16th Century Spanish castle by his brother-in-law Francis (John Keer) in order to learn what caused the death of Medina’s wife Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). Nicholas and his sister Catherine (Luana Anders) only give Francis a vague explanation, which makes him even more determined to find the truth.
Francis is soon shown the castle’s torture chamber, which Catherine reveals was used often by her father Sebastian (also played by Price). Not long afterward, Nicholas goes insane and believes he is his father.
Stephen King rightfully regarded this film as one of the most important of the horror genre. The title pendulum, by art director Daniel Haller, became a famous set piece.
Price is clearly at the top of his game here and he is matched by Steele, who turns out not to be the innocent victim that the story first suggests.