The Pit and the Pendulum –Preachy
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
All aboard! Keep all hands and feet inside the time machine at all times. This week we embark on a journey thru time to pay visit to several films that will leave you questioning your very eyeballs. In a series I’m calling “Double Vision”, we will be covering action films featuring twins. Or actors playing twins anyhow.
The year is 1991. Jerry Springer began conducting paternity tests on midget clansmen. The Terminator got a sequel. Vanilla Ice writes an award winning “Ninja Rap” and Sonic the Hedgehog began running all over the damn place. All this and Jean Claude Van Damme played vengeful brothers in “Double Impact“.
Young Chad, Jean-Claude Van Damme, has grown up the ward of his uncle Frank, Geoffery Lewis, who owns and operates a fitness club in Los Angeles. One part for aerobics and another for karate. Working in the fitness club with his uncle, in both aerobics and karate, has afforded Chad all the benefits of each. Ass whoopin’ kicks and top notch split flexibility.
One day, after receiving some important info from a contact in China, Frank sits Chad down and informs him that Frank isn’t his uncle at all. Frank worked as a bodyguard for Chad’s father when he was just an infant. During this time Chad’s father designed and build a tunnel that connected Hong Kong with the mainland of China. His business partner Nigel Griffith and secret underworld financier Raymond Zhang put out a hit on Chad’s parents. With them out of the way Griffith and Zhang would inherit the tunnel. Why? Don’t ask me.
Frank shows up moments too late and narrowly escapes with Chad as the hitmen fire at him. The head hitman and underling of Zhang is a man named Moon, played by Bolo Yeung. This makes the second time JVCD and Bolo Yeung squared off against one another.
But that’s not all! It turns out that Chad has a twin brother names Alex who was raised in and still lives in Hong Kong. It’s now Frank’s idea to take Chad to Hong Kong, meet Alex, lead the brothers in a war against Griffith and Zhang and take control of their birthright — the tunnel.
Once Frank and Chad reach Hong Kong they meet Alex who is less interested in what Frank has to say. He understand how difficult it will be to take out Zhang with all of his hired guns and crime resources.
While they are getting to know each other and forming a plan, days pass and the film turns into a combination of a “fish out of water” comedy with Chad in Hong Kong eating exotic food and what not, and an “odd couple” drama with Chad trying to win over his long lost brother. This is no easy task. Alex grew up on the streets and has resorted to less than legal business means to get by. He’s one tough cookie.
But forget all that. The brother make their presence known. First they stealthily break into one of Zhang’s cocaine manufacturing facilities and blow it sky high. Lol, it’s always cocaine isn’t it?! Then the brothers make an assassination attempt during a meeting between Griffith and Zhang at one of Zhang’s nightclubs. Alex and Chad, pretending to be the same person, bring several cased of “Cognac” to the party per Zhang’s request. But these aren’t your beverage bottles of the French tonic. They’re bombs!
Griffith and Zhang catch wind of what’s going on and escape the explosions, but not before they learn about the twins. Now knowing who was behind the drug bombing, Zhang’s forces track the twins and devise a plan to lure the brothers in so Zhang’s top enforcers can rub ‘em out. How will they do this? By kidnapping Frank and Alex’s love interest Danielle.
Alex and Chad follow to a docked cargo freighter. As Griffith gets his kicks by torturing Frank, the brothers slowly make their way to the engine room where their loved ones are being held. But before the final boss battle, each brother must defeat Zhang’s enforcers. Chad fights and electrocutes Moon, while Alex takes on Kara, Corinna “Cory” Everson, a She-Hulk muscle woman.
The end of the film parallels the fights with the enforcers, as the twins each separately hunt down the conspirators. Alex beats Zhang before dropping him to his death from the top of a crane. Chad manages to misdirect Griffith long enough to get the drop on him, and by that I mean Chad drops a cargo container onto him. The End.
Here is the part where I say whether or not “Double Impact” is a good movie or not. Well this won’t take long. It isn’t bad, but I can’t say that it’s good either. It’s a competently made film with decent special effects, fights and acting. However it isn’t the most original action movie I’ve ever seen. The same could be said about most late 80s and early 90s action movies, but bare with me.
“Double Impact” is about twin sons who grow up and avenge their parents death. Whether it’s avenging a murdered father, or mother, or brother or wife, that concept is in plenty of action movies. The question becomes “How does Double Impact take that idea and expand upon it?”. Well… there are twins…
Yeah that doesn’t do a lot for me either. More than anything it’s down right strange watching two JCVDs walk around talking about wearing silk underwear. The film even has to stretch to explain why both brothers happen to have the same accent even though they grew up on opposite ends of the world. Alex was dropped off at a Chinese monastery run by French nuns, while Frank had sent Chad to a reform school in France. I guess if you are born in Belgium that means you’re French to the rest of the world. It amazes me how often films feel the need to explain why JVCD has an accent. Action movie fans don’t really care, and if JVCD disserves an explanation than why not Arnold? Why not Stallone?
There is one last thing I want to point out. The tunnel is the birthright of Alex and Chad. What a strange thing to fight over. I mean, I guess you could put up a toll and make yourself some money. But honestly, who gives a shit about a tunnel?
When all is said and done “Double Impact” isn’t bad, but it’s also rather forgettable. I would only recommend it to die-hard fans of Van Damme. Otherwise you can pass this one over.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Things are only going to get better… or strange from here, so until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
Who hasn’t dreamed of being a cowboy at some point in their lives? Riding the open plains, looking for outlaws, or even being a outlaw. Upholding or breaking the law. Getting drunk in bars, enjoying the company of a young lady on the 2nd floor of a saloon, or even shooting the gun at the feet of someone yelling at them to “Dance!”
In the case of cowboy/western films, there are three eras of great westerns. In the 1950s and 60s you had the John Ford and John Wayne epics. The late 1960s and 70s ushered in “The Man with No Name” trilogy and the cowboy anti-heroes in “The Wild Bunch” with it’s ultra-violence being the trademark. After the late 1970s, the western genre was dead, until the early 1990s with a little film called “Unforgiven,” a modern classic that dissected westerns from the 60s and 70s and re-ignited people’s love for classic Westerns.
Now, it’s no mystery that drinking is a huge part of Westerns, case in point, William Munny from “Unforgiven.” It’s not until he goes back to the bottle during the climax of “Unforgiven” that you see the “real” William Munny.
So in this edition of Cinema and Suds we have the modern classic Western, “Unforgiven” and the classic classic Western “The Wild Bunch.” and a big bottle of Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter, which is plenty for this double feature.
Enveloped with Texas Mesquite, this smoked porter, which clocks in at 6.8% ABV, is bold beer with an old school taste perfect for a former-gunslinger.
Check out the video companion above for a more fun and cowboy-like hijinks!
The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear: Hilarious
Stay tuned for tomorrow as we look at