Tag Archives: The Pit & the Pendulum


A brief look at the film production company of Charles Band


Originally published in Music From The Movies 1990/91.


Full Moon productions is a company that was founded by film maker Charles Band, the company has been producing low budgets movies mainly of the Horror variety since 1988 and has enjoyed considerable success with this particular genre, cornering the market in what are essentially termed or looked upon as B movies or straight to video/DVD productions. This success has even surprised Band himself, and during the mid to late 190’s the company began to produce up to ten full length feature films per year, again these were aimed at the straight to home video market and did not receive a cinema release. “We are making movies now that are for the video market that would have been full blown cinema releases a few years ago” said Charles. “Today’s theatrical market place is so unforgiving, that if you bomb out with just one film, it could be the end of the company. So in my opinion there is no shame in releasing a movie in a premiere situation directly for home viewing”.


 MV5BMTk1NTI5MjU3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTA1NjUyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_Charles grew up in a family that was immersed in the film industry, from the age of nine he and his family moved to Italy, where his Father Albert band made a handful of Spaghetti westerns, and also was involved in the production of a number of Sword and Sandal epics. Charles said that his love of fantasy began as a child when he read the Marvel comics, which featured super heroes such as The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman and the Fantastic Four. He gained much of his experience via hands on training after his Father put him to work on the film sets of movies he was either directing or producing. Charles would do a number of jobs, these ranged from numbering negatives to assisting with sound equipment and cameras. At twenty one, Charles returned to the United States and made his first feature film which was entitled MANSION OF THE DOOMED, which starred the late Richard Basehart. After this Charles went on to produce and direct a couple of 3D features, PARASITE and METALSTORM for Avco Embassy and Universal respectively.  In 1982/83 Band founded Empire Entertainment under whose banner he released films such as RE-ANIMATOR,TRANCERS and GHOULIES. However Band found that buying pictures from other suppliers tended to water down the companies overall product, so in 1988 FULL MOON was born.

MV5BMTIwODg0ODg0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDMzNDkxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_Band and Full Moon went on to release numerous production, granted many were of the low budget variety, but many ranged in budget from one and a half million Dollars to three Million Dollars, and up wards of six million Dollars as in the case of THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. Which was one of the company’s biggest movies during the 1990’s. To say that Full Moon is just a film production company is certainly an understatement, Band has been busy creating a whole line of merchandising which includes, Trading Cards, T.Shirts, Sweat Shirts, Comic Books, and a great series of model kits. “I suppose we are creating the comic books of the future here” said Band. Charles’s Father Albert was not only active as a film maker in Italy he worked alongside John Huston on THE ASHPHALT JUNGLE and THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. “I am from the old school of film making” remarked Mr Band snr. “ I never had just one genre that I loved, unlike my son, I always found if I liked the story whatever the subject matter, I would make the movie, but Charlie, he sticks to the same genre”. Albert worked with Charles on DOCTOR MORDRID, and also co-produced the Disney fantasy comedy HONEY I BLEW UP THE KID which was directed by Stuart (THE RE-ANIMATOR) Gordon.

MV5BMTIzODA5NjQwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTc5NzQ0MQ@@._V1._SX148_CR0,0,148,200_During the early 1990’s Charles decided to expand the company’s merchandise from the films that they had released, he formed a sister company called, MOONSTONE RECORDS, this branch of the company packages and releases the soundtracks from the films that are produced by Band’s film company. Soundtracks such as MERIDIAN by Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio, SUBSPECIES by Aman Folk, NETHERWORLD by David Bryan, PUPPET MASTER 1 and 2 and THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM by Richard Band have all seen releases on the MOONSTONE label.  Whilst Charles is the man behind the camera as it were producing and directing movies, his younger Brother Richard is the man behind the music. “I am a composer who is as much dedicated to music as Charles is dedicated to film”. Explained Richard, “I have my own business, and I work freelance for other producers and film companies not exclusively for FULL MOON”.  Richard also lived in Italy for nearly eleven years. “I fell in love with classical music and through my Father I also learnt a lot about films by visiting the sets”.  The composer taught himself guitar, for a while touring Italy as a flamenco guitarist, he then took up rock music for a period of seven years. When he returned to the United States in 1972, he attended the music conservatory in Los Angeles. Richard got his first opportunity to break into film scoring in 1977 when he collaborated with Joel Goldsmith on the score to the low budget sci-fi romp LAZERBLAST.


His first score for his Brother was in 1978 when he wrote the soundtrack for THE DAY TIME ENDED. This was followed by another Band Brother’s joint effort PARASITE. The composer admits he has done so many fantasy type movies that he feels “It has given me a particular style which I tried to develop. There are certain film music composers, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and also the great Miklos Rozsa, that have worked for many many years within the industry and consequently have developed a definitive sound, but they have worked to refine this sound and when you get this sound you are inevitably asked to do certain types of movies”.

The composers score for THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is creating a stir amongst collectors, and it is in fact a highly atmospheric and imposing soundtrack, the sound achieved is not a million miles away from the AVE SANTANI chorus in Goldsmiths THE OMEN. “Thank you for that, I don’t think I set out to get that sound, but it worked for the movie and to be compared to Goldsmith, that’s a compliment. I got sick whilst doing the score so maybe I should get a fever more often and I can produce some more great scores”. Richard has composed the music for approx-fifty movies, at least twenty of these have been for his Brother Charles.

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.