A horse-drawn carriage pulls up on a deserted beach. A sombre figure dismounts and gazes up towards his destination - a foreboding cliff-top castle perched high above the crashing waves. Thus the perfect Gothic scene is set for Pit and the Pendulum, the second of Roger Corman's celebrated Poe adaptations once again starring the ever-reliable Vincent Price (The Fall of the House of Usher, Theatre of Blood) alongside the bewitching Barbara Steele (Black Sunday).
Having learned of the sudden death of his sister Elizabeth (Steele), Francis Barnard (John Kerr) sets out to the castle of his brother-in-law, Nicholas Medina, to uncover the cause of her untimely demise. A distraught, grief-stricken Nicholas (Price) can offer only the vaguest explanations as to Elizabeth's death - at first citing 'something in her blood', but later asserting that she quite literally 'died of fright'. What sort of unspeakable horrors are buried within the walls of this castle that could cause one's heart to stop so? With Francis determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, the terrible truth will not stay buried for long.
Right from its brooding kaleidoscopic opening titles, Pit and Pendulum draws you into its world of cobwebs, secret passageways and dusty suits of armour. All the necessary elements are present and correct and, along with one of Vincent Price's most tortured performances, make Pit and the Pendulum every inch the Gothic melodrama.