"I'm sorry that you weren't properly able to confess. There just wasn't enough time to torture you."--Francisco (Jeffery Combs) "Thanks anyway."
- Esmerelda (Frances Bay)
Lance Henriksen plays Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, which is in full swing when THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM begins. The heretic-burning fires of the Auto da fé are raging all across Spain, the people live in fear, and no one dares speak a word against Torquemada and the Inquisition. But when a baker's wife tries to stop a woman from being burned alive, she is arrested and brought before the evil Torquemada. The mad dictator accuses her of being a witch and commands that she be put on trial, tortured into a confession, and then burned at the stake. The beautiful woman can only hope that her husband will rescue her before she is killed. Director Stuart Gordon offers up another smart, ambitious horror film in THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, which is loosely based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story. Resisting obvious horror film tropes, Gordon laces his film with a more internal brand of horror, focusing on the tortures of the soul and the evil that men do to themselves as well as others. Henriksen is chilling as the half-crazed Torquemada, creating a character who has been twisted by the conflicting forces of devotion to God, earthly lust, and ambitions of power. Excellent acting, a well-crafted script, and good production design make THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM a unique horror film, typical of Gordon's work.
In THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, based on the Edgar Allan Poe story, Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, tortures and kills in the name of religion during the Spanish Inquisition. When a young woman speaks out against the Inquisition, Torquemada orders her to be tortured, partly because he finds himself lusting after her. Only her husband and a confessed witch can save her from being burned at the stake.