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(aka "The Inquisitor" )

 

directed by Stuart Gordon
USA/Italy 1991

 

Baker Antonio (Jonathan Fuller, ARCADE) and his wife Maria (Rona Di Ricci, THE PENITENT) head to the city center to peddle their wares despite her misgivings about the Inquisition's public displays of the punishment of heretics. They witness in horror the whipping and subsequent burning of a suspected witch (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, DOLLS). When the witch's son is also whipped, Maria tries to intervene and finds herself accused of witchcraft by the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen, PUMPKINHEAD). Unable to admit his lust for Maria, Torquemada tortures her in an attempt to get a confession out of her that she has bewitched him. While Antonio tries to infiltrate the castle's dungeon to rescue Maria, her cellmate Esmeralda - a real white witch - (Frances Bay, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS) teaches her to withstand her torments and harness her own latent powers; however, Antonio is captured and Torquemada aims to torture him to get Maria to confess.

Although made on a low budget, Stuart Gordon's THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM benefits from its authentic castle location (the Castello di Giove in Italy, which served as the backdrop for a number of Charles Band's Italian productions) and the contributions of its seasoned Italian technicians including production designer Giovanni Natalucci (who designed several of producer Charles Band's Empire Pictures productions including Gordon's FROM BEYOND and DOLLS), costume designer Michela Gisotti, and cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli (who had worked under Pasquelino De Santis on Visconti's last two films). Make-up effects artist Greg Cannom - who also worked on Full Moon's MERIDIAN and SUBSPECIES - was a year away from his Oscar-winning work on BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA. Cannom's effects here are grisly, but this really is not a gore showpiece (he got to show off more with the prosthetics in the other two Full Moon films). Fuller (who would later play the titular role of Gordon's CASTLE FREAK) and De Ricci make sympathetic leads, and Henriksen - not yet a tiring DTV staple - reins in his lead performance (and lets Oliver Reed go appropriately over-the-top as a soused Catholic Cardinal in a welcome guest appearance). The supporting bits by Jeffrey Combs (star of Gordon's RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND) and Stephen Lee (who co-starred in DOLLS) are symptomatic of the film's uneven application of black humor; although Bay manages to hit both comic and dramatic notes admirably. Richard Band, another Stuart Gordon regular, provides a majestic orchestral score (with the by-now de rigeur OMEN-esque Latin "Satani" vocals).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 27 June 1991 (USA)

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Comparison: 

88 Films - Region 0 - PAL vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD Review!

1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:33:24 (4% PAL speedup) 1:36:41.000
Video

1.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.94 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,181,093,737 bytes

Feature: 20,912,762,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.5 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo DTS-HD Master Audio English 2057 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2057 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
• VIDEOZONE Behind the Scenes (4:3; 12:46)
• Blooper Reel (4:3; 1:45)
• Trailer (4:3; 2:21)
• Trailers for SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, DEMONIC TOYS: REVENGE, EVIL BONG 2: QUEEN
• BONG, EVIL BONG 3: WRATH OF THE BONG, KILLER EYE: HALLOWEEN HAUNT, KILLJOY'S REVENGE, SKULL HEADS,
• GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER, and THE GINGERDEAD MAN

DVD Release Date: March 26th, 2012
Blue Amaray

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

1.66:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,181,093,737 bytes

Feature: 20,912,762,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.5 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Interview with Stuart Gordon (8:24)
• Trailer (2:27)

• VIDEOZONE Behind the Scenes (26:02)
• Trailer for Castle Freak (2:09)

Blu-ray Release Date: August 12th, 201
3
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray (July 2013): Hard to believe this is the same company that produced the DVD a little more than a year ago. This new Blu-ray is in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio - which would appear to be accurate to the theatrical, and the DVD to be open-matte. So we lose information on the top and bottom and gain on the right edge. Skin tones warm considerably and the overall image becomes much darker. Contrast has more layers and if I was to guess (and it would be only a guess) I suspect that this new Blu-ray is close to the original appearance. The image is richer, with some grain showing, and the darker look adds to the evil atmosphere.

 

Audio offers both a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround bump at 2057 kbps or a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps. The separation in the surround were not crisp but there was substantial depth. The score is by Richard Brand (From Beyond, Re-Animator) and his heavy orchestrations and Gregorian-style vocals certainly benefits from the lossless sounding earthy and resonant. Like the DVD there are no subtitles offered.  

 

NOTE: While I would have expected this to be region FREE - the Blu-ray had trouble playing on my Region 'A'-locked Oppo - hence.

 

We get some different extras from the DVD with an 8/5 minutes interview with Stuart Gordon, a much longer VIDEOZONE Behind the Scenes - running 26-minutes, a trailer for The Pit and the Pendulum and one for Gordon's Castle Freak.

***

ON THE DVD: Lucky 88's progressive, dual-layer transfer is clean and attractive, but fine detail is lacking. It is likely sourced from an SD master as only PUPPET MASTER, SUBSPECIES, and CASTLE FREAK have thus far received HD remastering (reviews suggest that Echo Bridge's current US DVD - and its accompanying "digital copy" - of PIT is also sourced from an older master). Although it had a few theatrical engagements, the transfer here rarely looks matte-able to 1.85:1, so it may be slightly cropped on the sides. The 93 minute is slightly longer than previous BBFC submissions, although they were not listed as being cut. The running time is consistent with a PAL speedup of the reported 97 minute US running time (the Australian DVD runs 92m 50s). Although recorded in Ultra-Stereo, the mix is not particularly enveloping (even when it comes to Richard Band's orchestral score, which sounded much more lively on Moonstone Record's own long OOP CD soundtrack).

Also included are the original "Videozone" making-of featurette, the film's trailer, and a blooper reel (I saw this film on VHS and the Videozone had a snippet of the bloopers - Lance Henriksen's speech - but I'm sure the blooper reel featurette was not included on the cassette release). Trailers for ten other Full Moon features (including some truly dispiriting new entries) round out the package. It's not a definitive presentation, but probably a safe buy (an R1 special edition from Full Moon does not seem to be forthcoming any time soon).

The US VHS and laserdisc release of the film were distributed during the lucrative days of Full Moon's distribution deal with Paramount. The US DVD from Koch (which reportedly bore the title card "THE INQUISITOR" despite the original title on the box) is long out of print.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


Menus

1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  RIGHT

 

 
 
 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 

 


1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 


1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 


1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 


1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray  BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


Box Cover

Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films

Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 




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