The star of BLOODY PIT OF HORROR was the Hungarian born Mickey Hargitay, a former Mr. Universe and the husband of the late Jayne Mansfield (and father of Mariska Hargitay). He also headlined quite a few trash epics, including THE WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD, LADY FRANKENSTEIN, THE REINCARNATION OF ISABEL and DELIRIUM.
Director Massimo Pupillo also had a “distinguished” career in trash cinema, directing sleazers like TERROR CREATURES FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE and scripting the “mondo” movies PRIMITIVE LOVE and TABOOS OF THE WORLD. Another noteworthy name associated with the film is future E.T. designer Carlo Rambaldi, who handled the “special” effects.
BLOODY PIT OF HORROR (IL BOIA SCARLATTO), released in 1965, was trimmed of around nine minutes of footage for its U.S. release, although the DVD version includes the excised footage as an extra. That DVD was released by Something Weird Video, who specialize in dredging up archaic exploitation movie trashola; with this film they’ve hit paydirt!
A bunch of asshole photographers escort five sexy models to a seemingly deserted castle. They break into the place hoping to find a suitably gothic setting for their photo shoot; what they don’t know is that the castle was once home to the Crimson Executioner, a sadistic shithead who back in the 17th Century tortured quite a few unfortunates. Now the castle is owned by a muscle-bound nut named Travis, who allows the photogs and models to stay the night but tells them not to venture into the dungeons.
What do or “heroes” do? Sneak down into the dungeons, of course, and utilize the various torture instruments for their pictures. But trouble occurs when a spiked board comes loose and impales one of the men. It appears the Crimson Executioner, dressed in the goofy red cloak he wore back in the day, has been resurrected!
The killer is actually Travis, who’s gone cuckoo upon recognizing one of the models as his former fiancée. Travis comes to believe he’s the reincarnation of the Crimson Executioner, and behaves accordingly. He spears a man in his car as he tries to escape the castle, shuts a woman in an iron maiden, sticks another in a giant spider web and ties several more to a spinning concoction that slashes their bodies on out-thrust knives. Travis tops off his tortures by chaining a gal over a fire grill and crucifying another.
Will the Crimson Executioner be caught? Will anyone be left alive at the conclusion of his rampage? Will you still be awake by the end?
The proceedings might sound gory and exploitive, but the film is never especially graphic. BLOODY PIT OF HORROR may have been shocking and outrageous back in the day, but now (as with many Something Weird Video releases) it seems indifferently paced and overly restrained. Viewing it often feels like work.
What scant enjoyment the movie provides comes from the hilariously hammy performance of Mickey Hargitay as the ridiculously outfitted, often shirtless Crimson Executioner. Since all the other characters are complete assholes he’s the default hero of the piece, and 42nd Street audiences allegedly cheered him on during the film’s theatrical run. You may well respond in the same fashion—if you can manage to sustain interest!
BLOODY PIT OF HORROR (a.k.a. IL BOIA SCARLATTO)
Pacemaker Pictures/Something Weird Video
Director: Massimo Pupillo
Producer: Francesco Merli
Screenplay: Romano Migliorini, Roberto Natale
Cinematography: Luciano Trasatti
Editing: Mariano Arditi
Cast: Mickey Hargitay, Walter Brandi, Louise Barrett, Barbara Nelli, Femi Martin, Moa-Tahi, Rita Klein, Alfred Rice, Ralph Zucker, Nik Angel