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Image Entertainment presents
Bloody Pit of Horror (Il Boia Scarlatto) (1965)

"The day of the Crimson Executioner is at hand!"
- Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 20, 2000

Stars: Mickey Hargitay, Walter Brandt (Walter Brandi)
Other Stars: Louise Barrett, Ralph Zucker, Alfred Rice (Alfred Rizzo), Nick Angel
Director: Max Hunter (Massimo Pupillo)

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (torture, violence, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:13m:59s
Release Date: October 17, 2000
UPC: 014381973426
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-B+D C+

DVD Review

The title of this Italian import (dubbed into English here, without including the original Italian language track, and shorn of over nine minutes of footage) from Image's Something Weird Video imprint, is somewhat of a misnomer. Althoughthere is plenty of blood, there's no pit to be seen, and precious little horror. However, you have toadmit that the title probably sold a lot of tickets. What there is in abundance is sadism, homicide andcheesecake, with a sizable dollop of homoeroticism and narcissism thrown in for laughs.

In 1648, an ominous beefy character called the Crimson Executioner is sentenced to death for hiscrimes, and a curse placed on his castle. Shifting to the present, we find publisher Max Parks (AlfredRizzo, under the name Alfred Rice) with an entourage of models and photographers, touringthrough Europe, looking for a suitable castle for photos for his books. He finally finds the perfect site—of course, it's the Crimson Executioner's castle. It seems abandoned, but it's not : Travis Anderson (body builder Mickey Hargitay, better known as Mr. Jayne Mansfield)has secluded himself there with a bunch of musclemen servants wearing tight pants and sailor shirts. At first Anderson wants to throw them out, but then he notices that Edith (Louise Barrett), his formerfiancée, is in the group.

Allowed to stay in the castle and shoot their photos, the group immediately releases the spirit of theCrimson Executioner from his sealed tomb. Before long, the party is dropping like flies, murderedin a variety of ways. Walter Brandt (as Walter Brandi) is Rick, a horror writer who is supposed tobe the hero but needs rescuing himself most of the time. Soon the Crimson Executioner makes hisappearance in the flesh, and the surviving members of the group are tortured to death, a processwhich takes up the second half of the film. The cruelty of some of these scenes is not a pleasantexperience for the sensitive.

The script is pretty cavalier with human life, but it has a fair amount of fun with itself as well. Travisis described by Edith as, "A former muscleman in costume pictures," a description which fitsHargitay himself to a T. He also pokes fun at his persona, going on at great length about how theoutside world is invading to contaminate his perfect body. One of the girls is put into a hopelesslycomplex deathtrap, complete with giant mechanical spider, that just begs to be laughed at; it wouldbe quite at home in a James Bond film. Although such cheesy drive-in fare is usually pretty lame,there are a few moments where director Pupillo manages to generate significant suspense. He alsopulls off a few dazzling shots, such as an overhead view of the Crimson Executioner descending aseemingly endless spiral staircase.

In all, this is not nearly as bad a film as the title and the legend "Filmed in Psychovision"would imply. Although claiming to be based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade, there's nothingof de Sade here, really, other than a sadistic attitude. If you want a serious exploration of de Sade'sphilosophy, you'd be better off with Salo; of course, you're not likely to be looking forserious philosophy in the Bloody Pit of Horror are you?

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image is much better than I've come to expect on Something Weird releases. Colors are crispand rich (though the red main titles appear a little oversaturated) and blacks are surprisingly decentfor a 1965 film. Reds and blues are vibrant and attractive. It's too bad that an anamorphic transferwasn't used to make this an even better picture. The source print is nearly flawless, other than reelchange burns and a couple of brief jitters. The color on the deleted scenes is less attractive, but it'snice to have them available at all.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: We have the usual atrocious English dubbing one expects in cheap Italian horror films, and the audiotrack is terribly hissy. It's rather difficult to get through the entire movie, even though it's barely anhour long. The music suffers from mild distortion, although the dialogue isn't too badly so,other than being buried by the hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: D

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Excerpts from Primitive Love and Cover Girl Slaughter
  2. Gallery of Exploitation Art
Extras Review: Thankfully, Something Weird Video includes the deleted scenes from the original film (with Englishdubbing). These are mostly expository padding and would have just slowed the picture down. They do, however, answer a few continuity questions, such as what's in those little stripedshopping bags Max is seen carrying around (lunch for the girls). No gore, torture or sex is cuthere. At least those doing the cutting knew their audience. All the same, I was pleased to findthat they weren't lost altogether.

Also included are brief excerpts from two other films. The first is Primitive Love, featuringJayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, but the clip includes neither star. Instead it focuses on twoguys ogling first a few Japanese girls swimming topless, and then a crowd of hula dancers. Thesecond clip, from Cover Girl Slaughter, consists of footage of attractive models beingslathered in stage blood and stage knives and arrows stuck into them for photos for the covers oftrashy novels. While we don't get any background or context for these clips, they are at leastnominally connected to the main feature. Both clips include the Something Weird Video onscreenlogo throughout, which is irritating.

The US trailer, presented in 1.66:1 is included, but it's in terrible shape, with frame damagethroughout. The film jumps badly as well. The case has printed production notes written byexploitation director Frank Hennenlotter, which give a decent amount of backgroundinformation on the film and Hargitay's career, such as it was.

No subtitles are included. The gallery of exploitation film art promised on the snapper case is not thesame as that we've seen on other SWV releases. The materials, from a variety of films, and radiospots (including one for Last House on the Left) are featured as well. The usual SomethingWeird Video forced trailer is found at the beginning, but for a change this one can be worked aroundby either fast-forwarding or by stopping the disc. On other volumes this hasn't been the case. Chapter skip still doesn't work on it, however.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A silly and gory horror film with heavy emphasis on sadism; it doesn't take itself very seriously,though, and is surprisingly entertaining. A decent transfer helps, but the audio suffers from awfulhiss. Recommended for at least a rental if this kind of sick fare, complete with wild overacting, isyour cup of tea.

 


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