Bloody Pit of Horror – A Clas-sick of Tease and Terror

Presented by Pacemaker Pictures in The States, who delivered to possibly every main theater in New York City’s Movie Theater district as well as any place that would book any of their now-legendary (Well, at least to B-Movie fans…) films, this was possibly the pinnacle of their catalog, a film released in November, 1965 in Italy and then possibly around Oct. 1966 in The US (A great time for both Garage Punk and Exploitation classics) complete with many slightly risky styles that could be shown on the general screens in the Pre-Rating era, the must-have claim to being based on the writings of The Marquis de Sade (Although of course fans of his writing would be seriously laughing themselves crazy), and a very over-the-top performance by Mickey Hargitay – The well-known Body Builder who’s best known to Cult Film fans as the star of several Horror flicks that co-star plenty of sexy ladies (Delirium, The Reincarnation of Isabel among them). Released on DVD as early as the format opened itself up to these flicks, this is best seen through Something Weird Video’s presentation although of course this title under a slightly different cut but with a poorer image can be found on many cheap DVD sets through the years…enough technical bits for now, let’s get into it!

The Crimson Executioner's main lady, EdithObviously the Publisher did not get the hint that something was not 100% together

A group of people working for a small book company that specializes in Paperback fiction are looking all around to find a suitable castle to do a photo shoot in, and stumble upon one that’s just right for their plans – Let it be known that this castle is very familiar to those who dig EuroHorror from The 60’s and Early 70’s. The type of businesspeople they are, Max (Alfredo Rizzo) decides to take a chance to enter the seemingly abandoned castle by getting one of his helpers to scale the wall leading to an open area where they can all go in. Of course, this leads to trouble as recluse actor Travis Anderson (Hargitay) knows about this intrusion and decides to kick them out especially after the publisher’s money offer that obviously puts a huge question mark in his head as to what’s going on, but once noticing the “good girl” known as Edith (Luisa Baratto…aka Louise Barrett in the US Credits), someone who he used to go out with, is among the crew, he decides to let them stay only under the condition that they never enter the chambers. Again, knowing the type they are, you know that this will lead to more trouble, but first there’s time to mess around and tease the audience…get ready for a nice serving of Cheesecake (Femi Benussi as the Pirate Chick is my favorite!).

After that moment of fun and tease, it’s time to get back into the story a little more, and over to the first deaths of the minor players. After getting the fear as a torture device goes wrong on Perry (Nando Angelini), Suzy (Barbara Nelli) and Raoul are those to go next in that grand tradition of Sex= Death, although Suzi’s aftermath being put into the legendary Executioner’s tomb clearly was not well-shot. Checking out some photographs of Perry’s death, it’s obvious that there was a hand in cutting the rope that held the device from the ceiling, and it’s time to get the authorities into action which leads to the group’s photographer Dermot (Ralph Zucker) to go into the car and get help. While trying to stop the weird goings on, it’s obvious that our reclusive actor is far more clever than originally thought, claiming that something can awaken the spirit of the infamous “Crimson Executioner” who’s extreme love of purity led to his death sentence (From Frank Henenlotter’s detailed notes on the Something Weird Video release, Director Massimo Pupillo was once on Italy’s Censorship board…something to think about).

Suzie and Raoul before meeting The Crimson Executioner

Two of the leading models, Nancy (Rita Klein) and Annie (Benussi), are wonderfully paired together as they talk about ending the photo session although the increase in price offered by Max makes them stay, while the publisher in turn talks quietly with it’s star Author Rick (Walter Brandt, a very familiar name to EuroCult fans) to gt everyone together to find a way out. The Crimson Executioner has “Risen Again” and takes a vow to end the “sordidness” that’s running around his castle…and with the price increase of the ladies at work, one can see where this could lead to a spectacular finale after proving themselves only in it for the money, possibly part of the long list of no-nos in the Court of the Executioner. First, it’s time to focus on the exotic beauty known as Kinojo (Moa Tahi) who’s tied to a Web of Torture complete with a Spider that’s a big precursor to the one used in Nude for Satan for another touch of slightly-Roughie cheesecake.

Although Rick saves her, the fear was too much for her (although of course not for the audience!), and it’s time to find out what to do. After dealing with one of the servants, Rick gets tossed on a bed of death with the dead Raoul, although he escapes, while they discover that Dermot is dead at the wheel, driving in circles in front of the castle. Edith, meanwhile, discovers that the actor’s one-time love of her has faded away as well and treats her like all the others, as the worship of a perfect body is said to also be ruined by the love of a woman in some very narcissistic heat.

Of course, all of this leads to the massive final moments when Nancy and Annie are brought back as the star victims on a revolving trip as The Executioner slowly slaps on the swords as the ladies spin around, with of course the effects leading onto more Roughie-style tease for the audience: Pure Men’s Magazine style in excellence with just a touch of Gore, although not in HG Lewis gallons of the day, but just right enough to add some shock for the time. Edith finally stands up to her ex-lover by finally tacking action against him, although of course there will be a few more deaths to happen including one of Max and another of The Executioner’s favorite servant before the climax of Travis finally meeting his end and Edith and Rick live happy ever after…and you have to admit that for a “Good Woman,” Edith actually had more than what you expected by being topless under those conservative clothes!

In the end, the Exploitation fan will not care if this even came out of a de Sade book at all as all of the angles are played right for everyone, including bits that might have been slightly risky to make if it were made in the American movie scene – I don’t think that at the time any major studio would have out two guys in the same bed, let alone with the two presentable supporting actors, even if it was used for torture – and in a way Hargitay’s performance was a hit with audiences through his overacting displays and the use of his physique. As a classic Horror Villain who did have those cheering him on (Read the Basket Case Director’s notes), The Crimson Executioner in today’s time would have been drawn out for many sequels, but thankfully, this was the stand-alone flick for the character, making each re-visit to the film a cool experience. Although most of the models have IT, the real star is the Body Builder who may have understood the role after meeting plenty of self-loving builders through the years and played it for all it’s worth with an over-acting that’s perfect for the show, and that’s quite a lot.

Hargitay would go onto play screens through the world in other films, usually made in Italy, and one that was made when he was still married to the lovely Jayne Mansfiled called Primitive Love, Distributed through another New York city-based Exploitation company, American Films Distribution (The home of Olga!). After starring in some wonderful bits of 70’s sleaze, he stayed with the world he knew best and even having a respected on-line site that offered advice, while his Daughter Mariska is well known through her appearances on Law and Order. A success in many ways, up to his passing in 2006, his mark in Exploitation to those who follow B-Flicks stands out very well through a series of fine time-wasters, and this remains one of the sharpest of them all.

Screen 13 Actor's Law: Every great Actor has to have a death scene

Goodbye, Crimson. Say your final speech.

Sadly, despite the Pulp Magazine cool of this film, Director Massimo Pupillo would not see most of his work get Distribution through The States, but he will be remembered for this flick as a piece of Exploitation thrills. Pacemaker, who I think was led by Irving Lesser, was already on a roll with several imported flicks with plenty of double bills doing the rounds including The Horrors of Spider Island (aka It’s Hot in Paradise, US release March, 1962), Curse of the Blood Ghouls (US release, June, 1969 – I think it’s final release), and the Barbara Steele/Alfredo Rizzo/Walter Brandi flick Terror-Creatures From Beyond the Grave, a film that was also from 1965 but had to wait a long time to get Stateside screentime in ’67.


~ by screen13 on July 14, 2010.

One Response to “Bloody Pit of Horror – A Clas-sick of Tease and Terror”

  1. Hey Screen,

    This is some great background on this film. I remember being stunned by a shot from one the chase scenes in BPoH when the villain proceeds down a spiral staircase with the camera angled directly above him. Don’t know why, I just thought this was some interesting, innovative camera work. Thanks for the history on the flick/production co.!


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