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Dave's Review: The Pit and the Pendulum

In order to try to keep our own hype-machine for The Pit and the Pendulum under control, I decided I need to write a review where I can rant and rave about how much I love this short and then I can spend the rest of my time talking it up and urging to people to see it in a bit of a more relaxed, not-so-fanatical way.  The short version?  It's absolutely brilliant and needs to be seen by everyone. Now, on to a reivew with a little more depth to it…

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The Pit and the Pendulum is a stop-motion animated version of Edgar Allen Poe's classic short story.  Done in the same style as The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch, Pit has the distinction of being obviously stop-motion and done with puppets, but giving life to the story that I will go out on a limb and say has a humanity behind it that none of the other mentioned films achieved. There is only one real speaking role, and that is of the narrator, voiced by Peter Cugno.  He doesn't talk much throughout the film, but his rich voice lends gravity and a very real anchor to the film with almost Shakespearean delivery.  What is the glue that holds this film together is the great score by Philip Stanger.  His score walks the fine line of being a dark, somber score without moving over into the oppressively depressing that most people would expect who aren't familiar with Poe's work.  That is no easy accomplishment. The real treat was watching the stop-motion animation, tho

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ugh.  In a day and age where it quite possibly would have been easier to just make a 3-D CG model of the puppets and animate them digitally, I'm quite happy that Marc along with Ryan Fairley and Mike Weiss decided to make this film in a more traditional form.  It seems to me that as amazing as full CGI looks, it tends to lack a sense of humanity and emotion, especially when compared to Pit and the Pendulum.  The love that went into this project is evident in every frame of this film.  The pendulum and the flames are CG, but the smooth look of the animation oddly compliments the more jerky traditional animation.  The result really is beautiful to behold. Overall, The Pit and the Pendulum is 7 minutes of pure beauty and power.  It has given me a desire to read Edgar Allen Poe's work that I've never had before.  It's been shown quite a few times and has been an official selection at numerous film festivals.  I can attest to the fact that it deserves every single one of the accolades it has received.  You can find out more information about the film and its June 2008 release at The Official Pit and the Pendulum Website.  It was our joy to discover this film at Horrorfest and was the highlight of the entire weekend. davesmall.jpg

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By Dave Minkus

Dave is located in Denver, CO and can also be found occasionally sullying various podcasts who don't know better than to invite him on. He also works with the team behind the Reel Heroes Filmmaker Series at Denver Comic Con.