Blaise's Bad Movie Guide
I’m not a fan of the “Friday the 13th” films. The violence-just-for-violence’s sake turns me off. I dislike the “Saw” movies even more. But “The Bloody Pit of Horror,” a 1965 gem about a reincarnated executioner who tortures his victims, turned out to be one of the best bad movies I’ve seen in years.
I discovered it in a DVD 50 pack (generally a great source of dreck). The title was unknown to me. Was it made by Paramount? 20th century Fox? Universal? Nope — it’s the product of “Pacemaker Films.” Was it filmed in Cinemascope? Vista-Vision? Todd-A-O? No, it’s filmed in “Psychovision,” which may account for the fact that all the colors are as garish as a Jefferson Airplane video.
On to the plot. A photographer and his bevy of beauties are scouting for an exotic location. They happen upon an ancient castle, which seems perfect for the shoot, despite the fact the owner is a recluse who keeps the body of a maniac known as The Crimson Executioner in an iron maiden down in the dungeon. At first unwilling to accommodate the crew, the owner, a former actor named Travis, relents when he recognizes one of the gals, Edith, as a former squeeze.
He’s careful to issue a warning to the visitors — “Just don’t go down in the dungeon” — which, as you might expect, the girls are too dim to heed (sample exchange: Girl 1: “I’m not just a dumb blonde, you know.” Girl 2: “You’re not even a blonde.”)
Escaping from its confines, the spirit of The Crimson Executioner implants itself in Travis’ body. And what a body it is. Played by Jane Mansfield’s husband, body builder Mickey Hargitay, the crimson clod spends much of his screen time oiling himself up and flexing in the mirror. Angry that Edith remains unimpressed, he then decides to go on a killing spree.
Since we are filming in Psychovision, he adorns himself in an outfit that is a cross between Zorro and The Phantom, complete with bright red tights. It’s too bad we are not filming in Psychosound as well, since the crimson one has a guffaw that could shatter stone (it’s when he is chortling with glee while tormenting his victims that this flick really goes over the top.)
The implements of torture include the Crate of Doom, in which two women are tied to a revolving box that brings spikes ever nearer to their breasts, and the Oven of Peril, where a hapless heroine is trapped, ready to become a not-so-happy meal. Sound too gruesome for you? Don’t worry — none of it’s more realistic than a Road Runner cartoon.
A car broke down near my house while I was watching this top-notch piece of cinema and the passengers came to the door and asked if they could come in to call AAA. When they caught a glimpse of what I was screening they seemed to have second thoughts about remaining inside and went back out to wait in the cold. In conclusion, while “The Bloody Pit of Horror” isn’t very bloody, it definitely is the pits.
— Blaise Majkowski
Gazette page designer and B-movie aficionado