The Pit (1981) – By Duane L. Martin

 

Jamie Benjamin (Sammy Snyders) is a pretty messed up kid. He has conversations with his Teddy bear, obsesses about sex, and…well…see, he found this great big hole in the woods, and down at the bottom of that hole are several troglodytes that managed to survive down there somehow. He keeps their existence a secret, because they’re really his only friends other than Teddy. He’s constantly bullied by other kids, and seen as some kind of a freak by adults.

When his parents go out of town, they hire a girl named Sandy (Jeannie Elias) to take care of him. She stays with him at the house, and naturally he falls in love with her, though he’s frustrated by the fact that she already has a boyfriend. So…what’s a kid to do? Oh, right. Into the pit he goes. In fact, into the pit they all go, only to be consumed by the ravenous troglodytes. When Sandy accidentally falls into the pit however, and Jamie realizes that he’s run out of people to feed them, he drops a rope down to them so they can climb out of the pit and fend for themselves. That’s when the local police get involved and form a posse.

How will this all end for Jamie? Will he have the happy ending he so desperately desires, or will he get what’s coming to him in the end? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

This is honestly a movie I would have normally passed over, but just out of curiosity I looked up some reviews on it after I got the release announcement, and for the most part people said it was pretty entertaining, so I decided to give it a shot. While I can’t say it was some masterpiece of horror, or that the acting was good, I did find it entertaining on many of the same levels that other people did.

For example, the acting in this film is cheesy as hell. It’s unbalanced, the dialog is awkward, and the characters themselves are a mish-mash of ridiculous caricatures. The worst character in the whole film is the cop who investigates the disappearances and murders at the end of the film. He came off as ridiculously inept, and didn’t want to believe that all the people that had disappeared had been murdered, yet all of a sudden after they find the body, he forms a posse and they track down the offending troglodytes in no time at all. So basically he goes from Barney Fife to super cop in just a couple of scenes.

Sandy handles Jamie’s obsession with her fairly well, and in fact better than most would I suppose considering some of the creepy stuff he did, but there’s a scene in the movie where she actually washes his back while he’s taking a bath. Jamie is twelve years old, but while they’re talking it comes out that his mother bathes him all the time, indicating that there might be sexual abuse going on there, but that’s never explored any farther in the story.

The troglodytes are played by four midgets in what about to miniature Bigfoot costumes with glowing eyes and great big fangs. I honestly would have liked to have seen them more in the film, but we do get to see them here and there, so it’s not like they’re hiding them away really. It just would have been nice to have seen more of them. The faces on the outfits were pretty cheesy, but also creepy in their own way. Let’s put it this way. I sure wouldn’t want to see one of those things running toward me in the dark, just like I wouldn’t want to see one of the dwarves from the Phantasm movies running at me. It’s the same deal.

For special features, this new release from Kino Lorber includes audio commentary by Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com, and film historian Jason Pichonsky. It also includes interviews with Jeannie Elias, composer Victor Davies, Sammy Snyders, and Screenwriter Ian A. Stuart, as well as a trailer gallery.

The restoration on this film is sort of a mixed bag. I can imagine that there aren’t very many decent copies of the actual film out there to do the master from, and on that level they did a really nice job of cleaning it up, but there’s a LOT of grain in this release. I mean, some scenes are worse than others, but the graininess is a problem. The sound voices and what not are all dubbed in after the fact, so the sound is ok, but the grain in the video is not pleasant to look at. That said, when you’re watching it from a distance instead of sitting right next to the screen like I was doing when I watched it, you’re far less likely to notice those issues.

All in all, I was entertained. It was a fun movie with a predictable but fun ending, and I have no problem recommending it. If you like cheesy monster movies from the early eighties…well…here ya go.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website at: https://www.kinolorber.com/film/thepit