Muscleman Mickey Hargitay stars as a recluse who wants nothing more than to be left alone in the big, old castle that he purchased a number of years ago to get away from the human race. That dream comes to an end when a group of men and women looking to do a cover shoot for a book show up on his doorstep. Believing the place to be empty, they decide to trespass and nearly find themselves turned out until Hargitay discovers that one of the women used to be his fiancée. Things seem to be going well for the group until they start to get killed off by what looks to be the Crimson Executioner come back to life, the former tenant of the castle who was executed himself many years previous.
Known as Il boia scarlatto in the original Italian, Bloody Pit of Horror begins on a fairly tame note, definitely wandering into cliché territory. Yet once that first death takes place, what once was meek soon turns into a horror show filled with torture and murder as a dead man comes back to life to exact his revenge, or at least so the group believes. Like many a haunted house film, it is not so much the house that is haunted but the man who owns it and such is the case here as Travis Anderson, portrayed by Hargitay, is not only a recluse, but quite literally insane. As one would expect, Anderson cuts through his guests like wheat before a scythe, each act more cruel and fantastical than the last. The film is not so much scary as it is an exercise in cruelty, yet even so, director Domenico Massimo Pupillo manages to make it a captivating experience letting the audience wonder if there is any way that any of the men and women who entered the house will be able to leave it.
There are a few moments where the film is decidedly silly, one element being the Crimson Executioner’s costume – looking more like that of a wrestler than a man to be feared. Some of the dialogue could have used a little improvement and a bit of the acting left a little to be desired, but for what it lacked in certain departments, it more than made up for in others. The film was very bright and bold in its use of primary colours and one would hardly guess that what would take place would do so, though the presence of dungeons is a telltale sign of bad things to come. The methods used by the Executioner are inventive, especially the giant cobweb that finds a woman strung up within its center, doomed to die no matter what a person may try to do in order to free her. Best of all is Hargitay, a little over-the-top perhaps, but certainly revelling in his role as the villain.
One might call this film campy and it cannot be denied, but what also cannot be mistaken is that everything from the very familiar premise with a load of scantily-clad women to the elaborate death-traps to the corpse of the original Crimson Executioner making an appearance all adds up to an incredibly enjoyable experience. For a good matinee film, despite the subject matter, Bloody Pit of Horror fits the bill perfectly.
3 out of 5