Bloody Pit Of Horror
When a group of photographers and models break into a supposedly uninhabited castle for a horror-themed fashion shoot, they quickly discover that the place actually does contain some residents. The head of the household is a former actor named Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay) who disappeared several years ago, but had only gone into hiding because he was crazy. At first, he wants everyone to leave, but he spies his former fiancee in the group and relents. Donning the outfit of a 17th-century moral code enforcer named the Crimson Executioner (who also happened to live in that very same castle and was, himself, executed there), Travis starts capturing all of the cast and crew of the photo shoot and places them in elaborate torture devices with the intention of forcing them to repent their sins. It's up to ex-reporter Rick to help his friends and stop Travis/The Crimson Executioner before he can "avenge the people who killed him" (seeing as how the real executioner actually died over two-hundred years ago) and impose his twisted moral code.
Although reviews of this film made it sound fairly interesting in a mid-60's, B-movie European horror kind of way, I was wary about actually watching it because I never like to believe what I read (especially since I always seem to get disappointed when I do finally see whatever it is I have read about). Thankfully, Bloody Pit of Horror actually seems to live up to what I had read about it, and that is perhaps one of the most surprising things about this film. One thing I always admire about a movie is its ability to give its audience exactly what it promises and this film certainly does that.
As is obvious from the purported 'source material,' this film contains a lot of scenes involving medieval torture devices. The Marquis de Sade was very well known for his sado-masochistic tendencies and this film follows along in his sordid footsteps (with tongue planted firmly in cheek, though). Some of the tortures in this film are quite elaborate (though slightly unfeasible) for being ancient techniques, but they are pulled off very well. The more imaginative tortures in the film feature such devices as a rotating four-sided board with which you may strap people to while pushing a series of sharp swords ever closer to them as they pivot into harm's way, or a stone platform that a person can be strapped face down on while a coal bed underneath them is fed until a healthy fire is started (thereby painfully heating up the stone bed, of course).
One torture in particular is ridiculous in concept, but great in execution. This torture features the victim caught in a spider web while a poisonous spider (built for the film by E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi) inches ever closer to killing them with its deadly bite. On top of this indignity, a massive series of taut wires (which are connected to loaded crossbows on the opposite end of the room) are also strung up to the contraption, so that anyone trying to escape or attempt a rescue will trigger a volley of deadly arrows. While this device looks great on screen and is a decent concept, the logistics of trying to actually string someone up in a trap like this is insane and doesn't seem worth the effort. Besides, it would take at least a full day to arm the crossbows alone for this torture, not to mention having to keep the spider fed in-between victims.
Though the rest of the actors in the film are given little to do, actor Mickey Hargitay hams it up in the role of the unbalanced Travis. Though his character comes off as being terribly foppish, he gets to say some of the most ridiculously over-blown lines in the history of film and he does it all with a straight face. For those who are unaware, Hargitay was actually the off-screen husband of the legendary Jayne Mansfield, and is the father of actress Mariska Hargitay (which explains her good looks - having Jayne Mansfield as your mom and a Hollywood bodybuilder for your dad pretty much guarantees your genetic advantage).