APRIL 25, 2008
As I’ve said ones of times, the nice thing about Horror Movie A Day is that my complete lack of discernible criteria for choosing what I watch results in my finding not only a film I never would have watched otherwise, but possibly had never heard of at all (will one of the grammar police make sure that’s verbally correct? It looks wrong.). Such is the case with The Pit, a film that was recommended by Charmuh but I had forgotten about until a few weeks ago when I was rummaging through the cheap DVDs at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. There’s a zombie movie with Horshack on the flip-side of the disc – if that’s half as good as this movie, then it will be among the finest purchases I have ever made. And keep in mind, just last week I bought a chocolate pie.
A few months back I reviewed a film called Freaky Farley, a lovable, if uneven, independent oddity that featured a guy claiming that monsters lived in the woods. The funniest part of the movie was the reveal that the monsters were in fact, real. There’s a similar aspect to this film – our creepy killer kid claims that something called Trollogs live in a giant pit in the woods. About 20 or so minutes into the film, he goes to talk to them, and sure enough, there are four or five hairy goblin things in there. It’s fucking hilarious. Another, sadly unexplored odd aspect to the plot is that his teddy bear is alive as well. At one point, we see the bear’s head move, but this idea is never addressed again. According to the IMDb, the monsters were always intended to be a figment of the kid’s imagination, but this was changed during production. I think it’s all for the better – the movie wouldn’t be nearly as charmingly insane if the kid was just, well, insane.
Another hilarious thing about the movie is that you can’t really blame Jamie for tossing folks into a pit. As the film begins, he simply goes to talk to an older kid, and the dude punches him right in the face. A neighbor girl is so mean to him it makes Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown look sort of sweet and kind, and an old lady calls him a freak for no reason whatsoever. Sure, the kid is a bit off, but these people are downright vicious. Kick their ass, Jamie! Also, it has a really odd sense of what women can or can’t do. The babysitter picks up a knife after Jamie offers to get it. When he gets mad, she explains “Women are capable of a lot more these days.” Later, when someone claims that they can’t spell very well, she replies “Who can?” I can, you dumb broad!
It’s also a genuinely creepy movie at times. Jamie falls in love with his babysitter, which leads to a scene where he convinces her to bathe him. In addition to the fact that she washes his back for like 10 minutes straight (it’s fucking clean, woman!), at one point during this lengthy wash Jamie alludes to his mother molesting him while she bathes him. Also, he just watches her sleep at one point, and she’s barely concerned. This creepiness carries over to the production itself – again, according to the IMDb, the director’s wife didn’t allow him to film any of the nude scenes, except for the ones with his own daughter. Uh....
And this is the first thing we see in the film. Not even a production logo flashes by before we are subjected to a terrifying clown cake.
The only thing I didn’t like about the movie is that Jamie disappears for like 20 minutes straight during the film’s 3rd act. He’s the best part of the movie (the not-exactly Oscar caliber acting of Sammy Snyders helps immensely), so to have him MIA for so long definitely blunts the film’s impact. He re-surfaces in time for a delightfully mean-spirited ending though, so not all is lost.
Granted, the film is rather obscure (the fact that almost everyone involved never made another film again doesn’t help), but even with that, I was amazed to discover how little known it was even among horror nerds. I kept asking folks about it at the Fangoria convention today, and the only guy I spoke to who knew what I was talking about was an Anchor Bay rep – and they are the ones who distributed the damn thing! I believe it’s still in print (my copy was new, not used), so it shouldn’t be that hard to find. For the love of talking Teddy Bears and clown cakes, I urge you to seek it out and watch it. Christ, just look at the poster (in the Amazon link)! How can you NOT love this movie already???
What say you?