The Pit & the Pendulum


This is an oldie but a goodie as they used to say on the radio, a rave from the grave, well 1991 anyway. Richard Band is a composer who is often labeled as second rate because of the movies he has worked on, these are more often than not straight to DVD productions of the gory horror variety, but Band nevertheless always manages to produce some pretty impressive work for such productions. THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM was also one of these projects very low budgets with some of that gratuitous violence and blood letting thrown in for good measure. Directed by Stuart (THE RE-ANIMATOR) Gordon and starring Oliver Reed, I am not sure but I think Full Moon pictures shot this in Eastern Europe, but they also did have connections with Italy via Cinecitta, the company was run by Charles Band, Richards Brother and it was their Father Albert Band who produced THE HELLBENDERS in the 1960’s. There is certainly nothing low budget about Bands impressive and powerful soundtrack. Right from the off set one just knows that this is going to be something that is pretty entertaining. The Latin chorus for one set the dark, brooding and foreboding tone of the work, and Bands equally daunting, mischievous and at times guttural sounding orchestrations too have a classy aire to them, that is sometimes not heard in scores for the big blockbusters of recent years.
Track number one, THE CRYPT AND MAIN TITLES begins with swirling mysterious strings enhanced by faraway sounding horns, the composition builds slowly to a crescendo where the chorale element joins the proceedings, Now I am not up on my Latin, but Santani, Spiritus, etc (shades of Goldsmith’s Omen) sort of crops up in the text, backed by strings and a fairly lumbering but at the same time a near melodic brass and percussion theme, which builds to enhance and lift the vocalising creating an extremely effective combination and a perfect opener to the score. Track two THE CHASE AND ONSLAUGHT, is also impressive, it begins with some period music that one would imagine or associate with a scene within a banquet hall similar to one which would have been used in a movie about the Tudors in Merry old England, the mood and atmosphere of the track soon alters and becomes an almost hunting cue , by this mean faster in tempo with light and airy strings taking on the central body of the composition, but this is short lived as an ominous sounding choir is eased into the composition, supported by booming kettle drums dark underlying strings and brasses.
The mood continues to become darker as the cue progresses, with French horns being performed over even louder percussion which bring it to a thundering close. Track three THE ARREST OF MARIA, is slightly down beat compared to the opening tracks of the score, Band employs a mixture of orchestral with electronic, to create an icy sounding composition, with underlying strings which act a support for malevolent layered synth stabs, that have the desired effect of creating an atmosphere of unease. The remainder of the score is in the same ilk a these cues, with the composer expanded and elaborating on his central theme throughout, adding virulent sounding choir and the combination of synthesiser and symphonic which work effectively. This is a score that if you missed it when it was first released you will certainly regret, in my ever so humble opinion this has to be Bands best, and when interviewed about the score, the composer told me he was ill at the time of writing it, and was running a high fever, he said “Maybe I should get sick more often”. I remember collectors saying at the time of its release, yeah, yeah its another Richard Band so what, well guess what? you missed out big time… this is highly recommended, one to watch out for on E-Bay me-thinks.

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