Tangent Online

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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Pit and the Pendulum -- Vincent Price

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Tonight, Friday, October 30th, 2009, Tangent Online presents the sixth of its week long Old Time Radio classic horror tales devoted to "Halloween Week 2009." The following tale is an undisputed classic. We offer the finest of its four OTR dramatizations, and the second of this week's shows featuring in the lead role the incomparable Vincent Price.

The long-running thriller-chiller radio program Suspense (1942-1962) aired Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" four times  between 1943 and 1959. Each performance starred a different lead character:  Henry Hull, Jose Ferrer, Raymond Burr, and Vincent Price (1911-1993). Vincent Price stars in this third of the four performances, which aired on November 10, 1957, and is, in our estimation, easily the best of the four.                                                         

Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Pit and the Pendulum" in June of 1842, soon after quiting his job as editor of Graham's Magazine. As are many of Poe's tales, it is told through the eyes of the main character; in Poe's story a victim of the Spanish Inquisition, who is sentenced to a most cruel and inhuman punishment. Tightly strapped and virtually immobile upon a wooden frame, he stares at the dungeon's ceiling far above as a giant pendulum depended from the ceiling slowly swings over him, each long arc bringing the giant scythe of death closer...and closer.

John Dickson Carr adapted the story for radio, expanding the cast from the original story in the process. With superb sound effects and orchestration, it is nevertheless Vincent Price's stellar performance that steals the show.

While this unforgettable radio adaptation features Price as the victim, the 1961 Roger Corman film version has Price playing the role of the executioner (photo at right). And, again, as in "Three Skeleton Key" (also starring Price) and "The Digger" (starring Torin Thatcher), a nasty little horde of rats plays an important role. For those undaunted by the previous pair of "rat" tales, we hope this one does it for you as we present Vincent Price in Edgar Allan Poe's classic tale of terror, "The Pit and the Pendulum."

Play Time: 24:39