Search - The Fall of the House of Usher /The Pit and the Pendulum on DVD

The Fall of the House of Usher /The Pit and the Pendulum
The Fall of the House of Usher /The Pit and the Pendulum
Actors: Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe
Director: Roger Corman
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     2hr 40min

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER: Audio Commentary by Director Roger Corman Original Theatrical Trailer THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM: Rare Prologue


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Movie Details

Actors: Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe
Director: Roger Corman
Creators: Floyd Crosby, Roger Corman, Anthony Carras, James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: American International Pictures (AIP)
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/15/2005
Original Release Date: 06/22/1960
Theatrical Release Date: 06/22/1960
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 40min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, French
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Movie Reviews

When AIP went color
joseph Corey | Raleigh, NC United States | 12/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These two films revolutionized AIP. No longer were they pumping out black and white Academy aspect ratio films that became double features. Now they were making color cinemascope features. Both of these films feature Poe stories with Vincent Price in the lead and Roger Corman behind the lens. And they truly remind us that Corman made some great movies during his time at AIP. The Pendulum is truly a scary set.

These are essentials for your DVD collection if you have a Psychotronic shelf."
Great deal, & a note about this 2 sided DVD - Side B issues
microjoe | 05/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This series of 2 film DVD's from MGM in their "Midnight Movies Double Feature" collection is a great deal. Keep in mind the films is the series may not be MGM pictures, they are just the DVD distributor. The movies are decently priced, and they usually do a good job of matching up 2 movies in a theme. This set is no exception, with two American International Pictures films based on stories by Edgar Alan Poe, both featuring the great Vincent Price and both directed by Roger Corma with screenplays by Richard Matheson, and both feature music by Les Baxter.
First up we have the "Fall of House of Usher", from 1960, in color. It is presented in 16x9 Widescreen, and it runs a brisk 1 hour 20 minutes. Screenwriter Richard Matheson gives the Poe story a good treatment with plenty of plot twists, scaring the pants off of us as a family lusting for power is driven to savagery. The Film Daily in its review at the time described the stories "brooding evil and sinister suspense". The film was a big hit with the movie going public at the time, hitting the top 5 of box office sales for the year, and encouraged the studio to produce more Poe stories.

Next film is "The Pit and the Pendulum", from 1961, in color, presented in 2.35:1 Widescreen letterbox format. This movie is also 1 hour 20 minutes in length and is a fast paced film. The Hollywood Reporter described this film on release as "eerie and excellent", and they hit the mark. Corman improved on the formula for Usher, and the Pit was a smashing success. The story builds suspense as British man (John Kerr) visits a castle in Spain, owned by his wife's brother (Vincent Price), in order to investigate her death. She is played by Barbara Steele. The inquisition has recently ended, but Price fears he has inherited has sadistic and murderous traits of his father, who was an inquisitor. Price, who also plays his father, was given a more complex role with some meat on it and seems to be enjoying himself. A real spine-tingler, the scenes with the pendulum were incredible. The castle and dungeon scenes are very atmospheric partly due to the talented art design for the set by Daniel Haller.

EXTRAS & DVD ISSUES:: There is an audio commentary by Director Corman for "Usher", and the Theatrical Trailer. The "Pit" has the original trailer, audio commentary by director Corman who regales us with explanations about his camera trickery and techniques. We are also gifted with a rare prologue filmed for the Pit movie's TV release in 1968. No insert or booklet included. The image and sound are very clean and appear to be remastered, the colors are bright for the period. The only complaint is, on the DVD I purchased the second movie "the Pit and the Pendulum" is on the reverse side, side B. I have other movies like this and it seems to work OK, but on this one it just would not play. I tried it on other players and same story. I did buy another copy later that worked fine. Make sure you at least "test" the DVD when it arrives. All in all, I highly recommend this DVD, it is a keeper.
Keep It Up MGM
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 11/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just about fell over backwards when I bought my copy of this DVD. As part of the special features, it includes an audio commentary by Roger Corman! MGM Midnight Movies keep coming out, and my collection keeps growing. When I think of Vincent Price and Roger Corman, this gem is the movie that comes to mind. It is the perfect late-night horror film. If you've seen this movie on VHS, you know what I mean, but you're not getting the whole thing until you get this widescreen DVD.The quality of the film it perfect. I saw no noticable wear of picture quality. The sound it fantastic. Vincent Price's perfomance as the tortured and soon demented son of a mad Spanish Inquisitioner is perfectly played out. The lonely castle setting is pure gothic. The interiors of castle give the feeling of wondering in a huge and rambling castle. Barbara Steele is pefectly wicked and sexy. The love story between the hero and heroine never really developes, but who cares! We want to see Vincent go mad and take his revenge.After I watched the film, I watched it again with the audio commentary turned on. It was fun hearing Roger Corman explain some of his movie tricks for giving depth and beauty to one of his low-budget masterpieces. Normally, the MGM Midnight Movie films only include scene access and the theatrical preview as the extras, so this was a fantastic extra for no extra cost!Keep 'em coming MGM. You put them in the store, I'll put them in my collection!"
"The shrieking of the mutilated victims became the music of
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 07/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Pit and the Pendulum (1961) was the 2nd of numerous successful Edgar Allan Poe inspired collaborations (the first being 1960's The Fall of the House of Usher) between writer/producer/director Roger Corman (It Conquered the World, Teenage Cave Man, The Little Shop of Horrors), writer Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man, House of Usher, Tales of Terror), actor Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler), and American International Pictures or AIP, for short. Also appearing here along with Price is Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Castle of Blood), John Kerr (Tea and Sympathy, South Pacific), Luana Anders (Easy Rider, The Last Detail), and Antony Carbone (A Bucket of Blood, Last Woman on Earth).

The movie, set in 16th century Spain, begins as we see a man riding in a carriage along a coast approaching a matte painting of an ominous castle. The driver, unwilling to go all the way (isn't that always the case?), drops the man off a good distance from the matte, I mean castle, where he then has to hoof it the rest of the way. Turns out the man is named Francis Barnard (Kerr), and he's come all the way from England to inquire about the untimely demise of his sister, Elizabeth (Steele). Seems she married one Nicholas Medina (Price), moved into his castle, and then passed away under mysterious circumstances. As Francis arrives at the castle, he meets Nicholas' sister Catherine (Anders), who's returned home to look after the welfare of her brother (apparently Nicholas doted on his wife, and is taking her loss particularly hard). Soon Doctor Charles Leon (Carbone) makes the scene, and Francis learns his sister contracted some strange ailment Nicholas believes came from the `atmospheric miasma of barbarity that permeates the walls of the castle' see, Nicholas' father Sebastian was an inquisitor of grand proportions, so much so he had his own, private and extensive torture chamber set up within the caverns beneath the castle which saw a whole lot of action back in the day. After some flashbacks we learn of a couple incidents that occurred during Nicholas' childhood, incidents that have affected him in such a way as to make him a little unbalanced, a situation that isn't helped by the fact that the spirit of his dead wife is now haunting him. Things get a whole lot creepier as Nicholas decides to exhume his wife's corpse (seems she's interred in the crypts below the castle) after which some revelations are made, marking the real decent into madness as the comeuppance is dished out to all deserving, and even to some who aren't...I got to say, the last fifteen minutes alone is worth the price of admission, and that's one hell of a pendulum...

I've always felt The Fall of the House of Usher and Pit and the Pendulum to be among strongest and most accessible of the Poe based Corman films. Price gives an excellent turn as Nicholas, a character plagued by his father's past transgressions, driven to the brink of madness by circumstances beyond his control. Of all the aspects Price brings to these films, the one element that always seems to stand out for me is a sense of class. Price is the star here, and it seemed the rest were very content to follow his capable lead. My favorite bits in this film are when Price, in a dual role, is portraying Sebastian Medina, the inquisitor extraordinaire. He's a loathsome, vindictive character and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The inclusion of Ms. Steele, who had just come from appearing in Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960), was a bit of inspirational casting, in my opinion, as while her part may not have been large, it certainly was memorable. Few could pull off some of the facial expressions she was capable of, some of them quite frightening (I would have dreaded getting one of her wild-eyed, maniacal stares in the middle of the night). I thought Anders and Carbone did well enough in their roles, but I felt Kerr was slightly miscast. He's certainly a decent actor, but I never felt like he got completely into his role as some of the others...perhaps this an unfair judgment on my part as I think it would be difficult to compete against the likes of a Price or a Steele...ah well, this is was a fairly minor aspect compared to the whole. As far as Richard Matheson's screenplay, it comes off exceptionally well. Even if you're not familiar with the story, I think it's fairly obvious where things are going, but that didn't take anything away for me as the fun here was watching the events unfold. I thought the overall atmosphere of the production, assisted by Les Baxter's ookie musical scoring, went a long way, although I thought the use of the fake cobwebs a bit excessive at times. The usage of various matte paintings was obvious, but they were done well enough as not to take anything away for me. Normally I dislike the inclusion of flashbacks, but I thought they were handled well here as various hues were incorporated dependant on the mood of the flashback (a violent flashback would feature a blood red hue, etc.). I thought Corman's direction quite good but then it's no secret his affinity for the material. The film may seem a little slow going in the beginning, but I didn't mind at all as it allowed for Price to display his talents, and provided for an exceptional build up (as I said earlier, the last fifteen minutes or so are definitely worth hanging around for...). All in all this is an excellent feature, one that I think manages to capture a good deal of the mood within the original material, and just a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

The picture, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) looks clean and comes across well, while the Dolby Digital mono audio, available in both English and French, felt a bit off at times, coming across a little uneven at times. Special features include a goofy original five-minute prologue segment, which I believe was used to help pad out the running time for television broadcast, an original theatrical trailer (in widescreen no less), a commentary track with Roger Corman, and French and Spanish subtitles. While this film was originally released onto DVD by itself, it was re-released later onto DVD as a double feature with The Fall of the House of Usher, so if you're interesting in purchasing this film, I'd recommend searching out the double feature as you may get a better value.