There is no doubt that outside of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe has been one of the most influential authors for filmmakers to rely upon. Okay, I'll include H.P. Lovecraft in that conversation as well. And, you know what, that is a perfect segway considering Stuart Gordon's "The Pit and the Pendulum."
"Pit" is a take on the classic Poe story about the Spanish Inquisition and it's most famous torture instrument; The Pendulum. In this tale, a couple, Maria and Antonio, are taken prisoner after Maria is accused of being a witch. The Grand Inquisitor, played by horror favorite, Lance Henrickson, takes a liking to Maria and believes that she has godly powers. Antonio, tries to free his beloved, but finds himself at the mercy of the dreaded Pendulum. Will they both escape?
So, this film same out where it seemed that horror had really gone stale was were looking back at old ideas for horror. The main one that comes to my mind is "The Phantom of the Opera" remake starring Robert Englund. Whereas the "Phantom" was a bit of a mess, and relied on gore, "Pit" while there is some gore, relies more on the horror of the Inquisition with an added dose of the supernatural.
I brought up Lovecraft earlier in this review because two names who are synonymous with Lovecraftian films, Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs, direct and star in the film, respectively. Gordon would go on to work on "Dagon" and pretty much any other film that would be based around some sort of Poe or Lovecraft lore.
Overall, I thought this movie would be far worse than it was, but there is actually some very gallows humor throughout and there are some absolutely silly "Spanish" accents, like they aren't even trying, which I think adds that extra touch of class. Henricksen stands out as the Grand Inquisitor of course, and he hams it up big time.
If you're a Poe fan, you might like this film, but I'm sure you might have issues. However, it's still a fun film if you can get past the religious preaching and overacting.
Here are some other films from '91 that aren't the pits:
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
The People Under the Stairs
Sometimes They Come Back