Release Date(s)1981 (October 18, 2016)
Studio(s)Amulet Pictures/New World Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
Few movies have their own category like The Pit, a film that’s not necessarily good, but will definitely stick with you once you’ve seen it. Made in Canada in 1981, it tells the story of Jamie, a troubled young boy who is constantly teased and picked on by people he runs into. While his parents are away, Jamie develops a relationship with his babysitter, whom he falls in love with. Little does she know that Jamie has a secret: a large hole in the middle of the woods filled with carnivorous troglodytes, the perfect destination for his more aggressive teasers. Doing what his teddy bear tells him to do, Jamie rids the neighborhood of those who have wronged him while his babysitter eyes him cautiously.
Describing this movie in only a couple of sentences simply won’t do. It’s a grab bag of crazy under the apparent guise of a horror film. In truth, it’s not much of one, but it does have horror elements. It feels more like a made for TV movie from the late 1970s. Aside from a couple of instances of nudity and minor gore shots, it’s fairly tame by today’s standards. The performances are genuine and the filmmaking isn’t poor, but the story itself, and the way it plays out, is bizarre and uncomfortable at times, particularly the relationship between Jamie and the babysitter. This is an all-around odd duck of a movie that’s fascinating to watch in its strangeness.
Kino Lorber’s new high definition transfer of The Pit features a presentation that’s strong, but has some issues. There are solid grain levels and fine detail, excellent brightness and contrast, and mostly good color reproduction (although with uneven skin tones). However, the transfer is loaded with compression issues, which causes an obvious flicker throughout much of the movie. This puts many of the darker colors, especially blacks, in jeopardy. Other minor flaws include some leftover scratches and speckling. If the encode had been given more attention, this could have been an amazing presentation. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD track is available. It’s clean and clear aside from some mild hiss, but dialogue reproduction is good. The score, unorthodox as it may be at times, has some nice life as well. Sound effects have some juice to them, but can be a little flat at times. It’s not a strong sonic experience, but, for it is, it works well. Unfortunately, no subtitles have been included.
There’s a nice assortment of extras to dig through, including an audio commentary with film historian Jason Pichonsky and Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com; a set of interviews with various cast and crew (Problem Child: An Interview with Sammy Snyders, The Babysitter: An Interview with Jeannie Elias, Teddy Told Me To: An Interview with Ian A. Stuart, The Music of Mischief & Monsters: An Interview with Victor Davies); and theatrical trailers for Beware! The Blob (Son of Blob), Jennifer, Burnt Offerings, Needful Things, and House of Long Shadows. Oddly enough, there are no trailers for the movie itself included.
Your tolerance for The Pit will greatly depend on personal taste. I didn’t love it or hate it, but I found plenty about it to enjoy, albeit ironically. This is certainly not for the average film viewer. If the transfer had contained fewer problems, this would have been a terrific release. As is, it’s still worth checking out.
- Tim Salmons