Stephen King cited this scene in ''The Pit and the Pendulum'' as one of the most important moments in horror

King praised the film for its ability to do whatever it took to scare the audience.

Like any good genre, successful horror counts on what a film can get an audience to feel. The mark of a good horror film is bone-chilling terror, a feeling many audience members would hate to experience in real life, yet flock to feel at the movie theater. It may seem counterproductive, but many find safety in a horror film, knowing that the worst is about to happen and welcoming it with open arms.

Many consider Stephen King to be the master of modern-day horror. King is an expert at making even the most familiar things terrifying in a way that will haunt a reader long after they finish his books.

In his book, Danse Macabre, King shared his feelings on the horror genre, and what he believes to be the best of the best.

"The good horror director must have a clear sense of where the taboo line lies if he is not to lapse into unconscious absurdity and a gut understanding of what the countryside is like on the far side of it," King wrote.

King cites a moment from Roger Corman's The Pit and The Pendulum, praising it as one of the better horror moments of all time for its depiction of what King calls "the bad death": a situation that calls for the fate of a dead character to go from bad to worse, and to be even more horrifying post-mortem than the actual moment of death.

"In AIP's The Pit and the Pendulum, we see another facet of the bad death — perhaps the absolute worst," King wrote. "Vincent Price and his cohorts break into a tomb through its brickwork using a pick and shovel. They discover that the lady, his late wife, has indeed been buried alive; for just a moment the camera shows us her tortured face, frozen in a rictus of terror, her bulging eyes, her clawlike fingers, the skin stretched tight and gray."

It paints a fairly terrifying picture, precisely the reason King felt it was deserving of praise. "Following the Hammer films, this becomes, I think, the most important moment in the post-1960 horror film, signaling a return to an all-out effort to terrify the audience... and a willingness to use any means at hand to do it."

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5 Comments

Cliffystones 6 days ago
"a feeling many audience members would hate to experience in real life, yet flock to feel at the movie theater."

Sorry, but not even close. REAL terror is coming across a starving lion in the jungle. "Movie/TV terror is seeing the same thing behind bullet proof glass. Which explains to me why some folks have little to no empathy for sufferers of REAL terror. They have zero ability to understand the difference because they haven't lived it. And they smugly equivocate the real with the imaginary.
>"...starving lion in the jungle."< Lions do not live in the jungle. They inhabit plains and grasslands.
trogg888 6 days ago
Being buried alive is the worst death I can think of.
coffinman 7 days ago
Paraphrasing Chevy Chase in CaddyShack:

"Stephan King molests Collies..."
Stoney 8 days ago
Can't wait to see this movie on Svengoolie this Saturday night!
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