The Pit (1981)

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?


  1. Great to see some love for The Pit!! One of my favorite oddities from the early 80's.

    I love the scene where Jamie does the prank call on the librarian lady, and gets her to strip in front of the window, and as you said, there are some genuinely creepy moments in there.

    The last 20 minutes does sorta fall apart when Jamie vanishes from the flick, but I think the finale makes up for it.

    Oh, the flick on the other side of the disc? From what I remember of it, it aint even nearly as entertaining as The Pit. In fact, t'was pretty bad.

  2. Hey I'm not sure why this movie review reminded me of this but maybe you could help. I remember a movie from the early 80's im sure(when I was at least under 8 anyway).
    The scene I remember has a young kid who buries all his GI Joes in his front yard. At some point later on he freaks out while it is raining and goes and digs them all up from the mud. Not much to go on I know but its been irritating the shit out of me. Tried askin on BD boards but to no avail.
    Pretty sure it was a horror movie. Any help would be awesome.

  3. Firstly, glad to see someone else discovering the awesomeness that is The Pit. One of my favorite trash/guilty pleasures of the early 80's
    And gunslinger19, unless some other film has the exact same scene the movie you're talking about is The Boy Who Could Fly. The young kid was Fred Savage.

  4. Yo Brian,

    I just ran into this movie on one of my latest trips to Frys. It totally delivers. Stoked to see you've seen it. Killer review. We need to shoot the shit on this one.

  5. I've had that movie in my collection for years, and love it.It is very obscure.The average horror movie lover would have never heard of this weird classic.I love this movie, very orignal

  6. You should review this low budget horror called "Dead Dudes In The House", it's kinda rare, but I have an old vhs copy that was taped off Cinemax 20 years ago. If you can find that, please write a review for it

  7. This is fantastic - I randomly saw this movie with a group of friends when I was 10 or so at a sleepover. We laughed so hard at the old lady bouncing down the hill in the wheelchair, and Teddy, but none of us were laughing when the lights went out! I've never met anyone else that's seen this, thanks for confirming my memory of this bizarre little film.

  8. I saw THE PIT a few years ago since Netflix carries it, and I have to agree with your assessment! Love the bathtub sequence, so inappropriate. Can't remember how I first heard about it or why I rented it, exactly, but it's not something I remember from back in the day.

  9. dude.. my friends and I wore the copy of the novelization we had of this back in the 80's OUT. thank you for reminding me of this amazing gem and since I never knew there was a movie made of it, you have now completed my life.

  10. Really fair review and I have been a fan of the Pit since I was a kid and watched it on vhs. It was a movie I never forgot. As an adult I realize it isn't the scariest film or well produced or acted yet it does have an odd charm and it is unintentionally funny like most low budget films such as Bloody Birthday. The Pit is so entertaining that I prefer it to most modern big budget horror movies. It falls under the deliciously bad category. Amulet is rereleasing it in select theaters this month of October and in November. It is also being released on Blu Ray soon.


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