Mock With Me #1

Bloody Pit Of Horror (Pupillo, 1965)

Man, the Marquis De Sade gets blamed for absolutely everything. I for one am getting a little tired of it. Own your actions, people.
In a centuries-ago prologue, we see the execution of a madman who, ironically enough, is an executioner himself. He calls himself The Crimson Executioner, and he is one of the most cuddly and lovable people dressed in red since Elmo. He seems to have been some sort of noble who used his castle to capture and randomly torture people just for giggles. He is sentenced to die in his own Iron Maiden device, where he is sealed in with a proclamation that none should disturb his body, or indeed the castle itself.
Of course, the mood is undercut by the Iron Maiden looking like an attraction at the county fair.
You don’t see enough movies shot in Psychovision anymore. Oh sure, there’s Bridge To Terabithia and Hotel For Dogs, but these things are rare.
Present-day (1965). A two-car caravan pulls up to an old Italian castle. They are a group of models, assistants, photographer, book publisher and author looking for locations to stage/shoot covers for cheap, lurid paperbacks. The castle seems empty, so naturally they climb up to a second story window and break in and make themselves at home. Happily, its full of weird old armor and contraptions and general creepiness inside. Hurrah!

Quick point: almost all of these people are going to die, violently. I can’t offhandedly think of something I’ve seen with as high a combination of speaking parts/body count. Sure there’s things like Commando where Schwarzeneggar kills dozens in minutes, but they’re mute extras. Here you speak, you die. I have the funny feeling that had the Saw franchise been made in the mid-60s, it would have looked a lot like this, and its ridiculousness that much easier to observe.

The models start posing, the photographer starts snapping.
The castle is not deserted. The owner, hidden in shadows, informs them they are not welcome, how dare they break in, etc. As they prepare to leave he surveills them through one a’ them sneaky mirror thingys. He sees something (hint: woman closest to the mirror, the hair/wardrobe girl) that gives him pause.
Let’s note right here that the owner is none other than Mickey Hargitay, former competetive bodybuilder, widower of the recently decapitated Jayne Mansfield, father of Mariska. He speaks over a microphone, telling them he’s changed his mind and they may stay and take their pictures, but avoid the dungeon areas!
The crew plop one of the male models into this device, which just happens to be lying around the castle. Its rope breaks, impaling him. Blue sweater boy here is the author of their cheap novels. He’s played by Walter Brandi and is the nominal hero of this thing. See, I don’t think comfy sweater jackets are conducive to an action hero image. It’s what kept Bing Crosby in musical comedy and light romances. Maybe I’m being narrow-minded.
This couple, hearing “Stay away from the dungeon!”, took that to mean, “go straight to the dungeon, recline in the dirt and get into some heavy petting.” They slipped away from the group before the rope accident. As they stumbled in the dark, they accidentally break the clasp on the old Iron Maiden. Who should suddenly appear before them?
The Noid! I mean…The Crimson Executioner!!!
They find and inform the owner of the accidental death. Niiice robe, Mickey. During this exchange, the wardrobe girl appears, and she and the owner stare awkwardly at each other, but both deny knowing the other. Later on she confesses to her companions that he is her ex-fiancee, they broke up a couple years ago and he dropped out of sight. His name is Travis Anderson, an American actor and bodybuilder, who, despite his biography, is absolutely not Mickey Hargitay. He’s Travis.
Travis withdraws back to his study to do some secret ogling.
And now we’re off and running. Our heroes encounter one of the models in this web contraption – move one of the strings, and one of the dozen bow/arrows on the walls will discharge and kill her. She warns them off, saying she’s certain to die, she can’t possibly be saved, there’s no hope for her, blah blah. The author tries to slither along the floor to help her, but honestly after listening to her complain I would have said, “fine, you’ve convinced me, you’re as good as dead. Which way’s the kitchen?”
This thing that is vaguely suggestive of a spider is moving slowly toward her face, and we’re informed that its bite is some of that instant-death poison stuff. I honestly can’t tell if we’re meant to think that it’s a mechanical contraption (slightly plausible) or a living creature (umm…) I think just maybe we’re supposed to think it’s a living creature. Either way, I crave a reverse shot! Reverse shot, please!
Thank you!
Wardrobe Girl finds Travis and confronts him. He reveals himself as the Crimson Exectioner!!!. The spirit of the long-dead original inspires him, and he will continue the work of the original to wreak bloody vengeance on the world! And why did you dump me?

To recap: The photo shoot crew is here entirely at random, a girl in the crew is the ex-fiancee of someone from an entirely different continent who just happened to buy this particular abandoned castle, and he just happens to be a psychopath. Contrivance, thy name is Bloody Pit of Horror.

Off he goes to the dungeon, and now it’s just 15 or 20 minutes of my jaw dropping. He’s got a fistful of the crew there, and he leaps from torture device to torture device introducing them to his toys.
In this setup, he’s got two girls spinning around in some sort of vertical Pit and the Pendulum contraption, as a series of swords move gradually closer to them as they rotate.
Luckily, rather than sharp tips, these swords seem to sport swabs for applying red paint.
The number of whack-a-doodle poses struck by The Crimson Executioner!!! in this sequence is seemingly without limit.poster
“Threepio!” Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!”

Okay, having made a throwaway Star Wars reference, I have to digress long enough to ask: all the garbage mashers on the detention level? How many are there? How messy are these detainees exactly? One apartment-sized garbage masher isn’t getting the job done? Just sayin’.

“The Torture of Icy Water,” intones The Crimson Executioner!!! He’s impatiently moving the girls from device to device, like a kid at Christmas who has to rush to unwrap the next present.
It’s the rack for you! Bwah ha ha!
Walter Brandi escapes the collapsing bed of death and starts fighting back. The Crimson Executioner!!! employs a small staff of henchmen, all dressed exactly like this dude, and apparently laid off recently by The Riddler.
This is what happens to naughty publishers!
Travis had resisted laying a finger on his former fiancee, but now the gloves are off! He straps her to this bull-shaped metal pillory with a stove for a belly, and starts loading it with burning coals.
Sounds rough, but it apparently just makes a person sweat a lot. I think they have these at L.A. Fitness now.
Having survived the rotating swords and icy waters, blondie here now gets hot tar (melted chocolate?) poured on her back. Somebody end this please.
Walter Brandi will! Travis is unmasked and predictably killed by one of his own torture machines. But will the spirit of The Crimson Executioner!!! live on? I vote yes!

This utterly indispensible flick is in public domain and available on more than one DVD release. The one I saw was released by Something Weird, and was a rather nice print I thought, and apparently in the correct aspect ratio. There’s a cheap Alpha Video release too, but if past perfmance counts, there’s a fair chance it’s inferior. No, it is not ironic to be concerned with the A/V quality of such a crap movie. Stop thinking that.



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