CinemaLit: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) | Mechanics' Institute

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CinemaLit: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Friday, October 20, 2023 - 6:00pm

October 20 – The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), 85 minutes, directed by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, John Kerr and Luana Anders.

The acting veers from hammy to wooden, and the dialogue from ripe to riper, but that's part of the fun of this film version of Edgar Allan Poe's classic story of madness and revenge during the Spanish Inquisition. "King of the Drive-in" Roger Corman's first Poe-inspired film, 1960's House of Usher was a profitable low-budget hit. The Pit and the Pendulum was the follow-up, with better production values alongside the same dedication to popcorn entertainment. As the unhinged Nicholas Medina, Vincent Price delivers one of his juiciest performances. And The Pit and the Pendulum manages some genuine fright, most notably at its nail-biting finale.

October 2023 CinemaLit – Shades of Gothic

We're devoting October at CinemaLit to movies that have varying relations to the human fear response. Our films play on different moods while crawling under our skin. Reincarnation, possession, insanity, torture, prophecy, ghosts, and clairvoyance are featured. Our films take turns being eerie, disturbing, funny, campy, and genuinely horrifying. Let's creep out with Don’t Look Now (1973), The Haunting (1963), and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961). (Image used with permission of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.)

Hosted by CinemaLit Curator Matthew Kennedy with special guest horror authority Simone Chavoor.


Simone Chavoor is a Bay Area native who double majored in film and broadcasting at San Francisco State. Like any good film school graduate, she did her time in Los Angeles working in the film and television industry before moving back to her beloved home. An action and horror film obsessive, Simone hosted "Die Hard With a Podcast" and the more diabolical "Black Mass Appeal" podcast. She is the unit coordinator for ABC7's "7 On Your Side" team, has an Emmy for research in the Consumer / Business category, and produces ABC7's annual Halloween special, "Creepy Bay Area." When not working or watching movies, she enjoys playing bass guitar in her band Polly and the Pockets, relaxing with her partner and their three cats, and competing on her bar trivia team. She was on Jeopardy! in 2015. It went okay.

Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


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CinemaLit Films

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Future CinemaLit Films

Sep 22 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: The Long Goodbye (1973)
CinemaLit September 2023: – The Hollywood New Wave

Sep 29 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: Paper Moon (1973)
CinemaLit September 2023: – The Hollywood New Wave

Oct 6 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: Don't Look Now (1973)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Oct 13 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: The Haunting (1963)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Oct 27 - 5:00pm

CinemaLit Out & About - Edgar Allan Poe: Myths, Mysteries, & Misconceptions
CinemaLit October 2023 – Shades of Gothic

Nov 3 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
CinemaLit November 2023: – Full Color Dramas