Pit, The (1981)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-04-04 04:15
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Directed by: Lew Lehman
Written by: Ian A. Stuart
Produced by: Bennet Fode


Reviewed by: Brett H.






ďAbergailís missing and so is Miss Oliphant, arenít they? And, Freddy and Christina.
They donít eat chocolate bars. You know what they eat?Ē


As all aficionados of the horror genre have come to know, sometimes the film you watch baffles the imagination so much that it leaves you questioning the reality of what youíve just witnessed. Troll 2, The Sweet House of Horrors and countless Ed Wood movies have made many a horror fan slap their foreheads in wonder for years now. To be fair these types of movies keep the genre interesting if you know what youíre in for and many crappy films have gained quite a fan base as result. Laughing at the film or laughing with it, so long as weíre laughing, right? On the other hand, theyíve stolen mucho rental dinero by disguising themselves as something theyíre not via misleading cover art and plot summaries. Not surprisingly, Canadian cinema isnít immune to the insanity that the odder works of the genre pertains. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The Pit.

12 year old Jamie (Sammy Snyders) is an autistic child struggling with day to day life. With no friends to speak of, Jamie must instead spend time with the reptiles in his terrarium, his stuffed bear, Teddy, and a half dozen troglodytes that dwell in a pit in the middle of the woods about a mile from his home. Jamieís also more than a little curious of the female anatomy (frankly, heís a horny little bastard) and will do anything to get a peak here and there at older women. With his parents going away, a new housekeeper, Sandy (Jeannie Elias) will be watching over him. Quite the odd-ball, itís no wonder Jamieís prior sitters havenít come back to pay him a visit... right? Teddy isnít your average bear, either, as he speaks to Jamie and tells him things to do, and theyíre generally not good. With a lack of money to buy food and fed up with bullying and guys hoarding in on his potential ladies, Jamie decides to begin feeding townspeople that he considers bad to the trogs deep in the woods. Iím dead fucking serious.

The Pit is one of those movies that comes along every now and then and totally catches you off guard, especially if you had the pleasure to see the film during itís theatrical run with the really awesome and misleading poster art. It looks like itís going to be a pretty serious horror film and apparently it was intended this way until the director changed the script. Rather than seeing the film through the vivid imagination of an autistic child, we are treated to everything under the sun in terms of absolute weird shit. This film contains the types of subject matter that seemingly only foreign films explore. If youíve ever seen Burial Ground, you could compare the majority of this films to the weirdness (although not quite that weird) to the Peter Bark scenes. The relationship between Jamie and his mother is awkward, sheís been accused of being overly motherly and one scene insinuates their relationship may go beyond the normal mother-son kinship.

Caught with nudie books at school (he cut the body of one nude model out, pasted the librarianís head on it and sent it to her) and accused of swinging on a vine naked wearing nothing but a Superman cape, the character of Jamie is a real treat. Until youíve seen a twelve year old boy play an audio cassette to his librarian through a telephone informing her that her niece has been kidnapped and she must strip at an open window or little Abergail is history... all the while hiding outside to take pictures, youíve not lived. ďAll right, damn you! You want to see my body?!Ē One would think that is great enough to warrant a viewing, but it gets better, her niece walks in on as sheís putting her top back on and afterwards, chumming buddies Jamie and Teddy sit down and take a look at the Polaroidís. Teddy isnít shy to say heíll be looking at these snaps often. Jamie even pulls the old drop the napkin on the floor so he can take a peak up the ladiesí skirt routine and ventures into the cute Sandyís room while she sleeps and sits there staring at her popped out titty. Jesus Murphy, itís too bad the internet wasnít around back then for the guy.

Although all of these scenes are so wacky that itís impossible to take the film seriously, itís hard not to feel sorry for Jamie. Heís coming of age and has no one to experience it with, love interests donít share the feeling and itís just so awkward to learn that at the age of twelve his mother still reads him bedtime stories. And, lets not even factor in the relationship with the teddy bear. He seems to genuinely try to make friends, but it just doesnít work out for him. In the scenes where heís made fun of, you just want to bitch slap the other kids or people because itís never fun to see a child in such a situation. Do not fear, Jamie gets back at everyone via his trog buddies (who really arenít his buddies either, to add insult to injury; they donít interact with him). Little redhead bitch that teases Jamie by allowing him to ride her bike, knowing itís busted and therefore putting him down on his ass? No worries, the trogs are hungry. Old, blind lady in a wheelchair who ratted him out and got his own bike taken away in the first place? Thereís plenty room in the pit for an old bag like that.

The relationship between Sandy and Jamie is awkward as well, as he is constantly hitting on her and creeping up on her when sheís showering or in her nightgown. She is the only one he tells of his secret trogs, but she listens to him as though heís a six year old until he eventually proves to her that theyíre real. The trogs themselves look like hairy midget sasquatches with glowing eyes with a troll face, and theyíre pretty fun to watch. Unfortunately they donít appear much in the film until near the end with Jamie setting them loose on the town. Things get gooey and thereís a bit of blood and gore for you fiends out there, along with multiple tit shots. Music that is damn near identical to that of certain pieces used in Halloween is featured along with music that sounds like itís from a 50s gothic horror flick. This interacts well with the dialogue of the film, which is cheesy and amateurish at times, as though itís been written for the generation that preceded the target audience of the film. It almost makes The Pit feel like some G-rated family movie thatís hit the crack pipe. Trog-vision occurs when we see events through the eyes of the trogs as the screen is tinted orange and is distorted and generally the scenes are backwoods slasher influenced in terms of killer POV shots.

The Pit takes another kick at the can at the Canadian horror revenge theme, but overall the film lacks any Canadian feel. It was shot in Wisconsin (because forests are hard to find in Canada?) and the police sergeant has an American flag embroidered on his sleeve. Itís sort of funny, though, because he has a maritime accent. The cast is made up of many Canadians who have appeared in seemingly every Canadian TV show ever made. Anchor Bay treats the film like royalty on DVD with an amazing transfer and a short poster/still gallery and even includes a second feature, Hellgate along with it for under $10. Going in, I never thought Iíd have so much fun with this film, I read it was a bit quirky but had no idea itíd be as psycho as it turned out to be. Had the director not changed the script, it may have been a much more emotional story, but as it stands, this one is just for shits and giggles. Donít think, just jump right into The Pit. Rent it!



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