‘He was a homicidal maniac who lived to kill!’
Bloody Pit of Horror – original title: Il boia scarlatto “The Scarlet Executioner” – is a 1965 Italian-American horror feature film directed by Massimo Pupillo (The Vendetta of Lady Morgan; Terror-Creatures from the Grave) from a screenplay by Roberto Natale and Romano Migliorini. The movie stars Mickey Hargitay, Walter Bigari, Luisa Baratto, and Rita Klein. It was also released as A Tale of Torture.
A group of individuals including the writer Rick (Walter Bigari), Daniel Parks (Alfredo Rizzo), his publisher, his secretary, Edith (Luisa Baratto), their photographer, Dermott (Ralph Zucker) and five young models enter a seemingly deserted castle to take photos for horror book covers.
The castle is actually occupied by a former actor, Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay). Anderson initially desires to send the group away, but recognises Edith (who was once his fiancée) and changes his mind, but places the dungeon as off limits for the group.
The group ignores this warning and proceed to take photos there anyway. This angers Anderson, who dons a costume and takes the identity of the Crimson Executioner, who was hanged centuries earlier for the crime of having his own private torture chamber.
Anderson eventually kills each member of the group until Edith and Rick remain…
“While this is far from a good movie (the acting, English dubbing and dialogue are awful and it can’t even seem to decide whether the killer is possessed, insane or a combination of both), there’s enough action, torture and unintentional laughs to make the whole thing extremely entertaining. The final 20 minutes are especially fun and lively.” The Bloody Pit of Horror
“Hargitay’s over the top and intimidating performance makes up for the cardboard hero that is Italian horror regular Walter Brandi, who sleepwalks through the film. Making it all worthwhile is the beautiful cinematography, a number of stimulating torture devices […] and the expected scantily clad women parading around.” DVD Drive-In
“The oddest thing by far is the villain’s motivation for his acts, to wit “to keep his perfect body free from contamination.” […] The dialogue is so ludicrous, and Mickey Hargitay so deranged (especially in the last half of the movie), that it all becomes entertaining in spite of its unpleasantness.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“The sheer zaniness of it all makes the overly elaborate death devices and unlikely situations perfectly acceptable. It’s just that type of movie.” Italian Film Review
” …a comic-strip movie, with a story told through a series of scenes, pictures and pacing that are more akin to comics than cinema. Inside the empty spaces, that open continually, immobilizing the story, one would often be tempted to insert a few captions and balloons.” Roberto Curti, Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957 – 1969
“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.” The Telltale Mind
“Hargitay acts pretty nuts in this flick and his out-there performance alone is worth the price of admission. The photography sessions are downright hilarious and there’s also a great, groovy score and some truly awful dubbing that add to the movie’s charm. It’s a little on the tame side and some of the plot contrivances will have you shaking your head in disbelief.” The Video Vacuum
“Mankind is made up of inferior creatures… who would have corrupted the harmony of my perfect body!
Cast and characters:
Mickey Hargitay … Travis Anderson – Black Magic Rites; Delirium
Walter Bigari … Rick
Luisa Baratto … Edith
Ralph Zucker … Dermott, the photographer
Alfredo Rizzo … Daniel Parks
Nando Angelini … Perry
Gino Turini … Travis’ moustached henchman
Roberto Messina … Travis’ bald henchman
Barbara Nelli … Suzy
Moa Tahi … Kinojo
Morgan Salpietro … Nancy
Femi Benussi … Annie
Interiors were shot at Balsorano Castle (The Devil’s Wedding Night; Lady Frankenstein) while interior shots were filmed at Palazzo Borghese, Artena, Italy.
The film was distributed in Italy by M.B.S. and released on November 28, 1965. It grossed a total of 65 million Italian lire. Re-released in Italy in 1972 under the title Io…il Marchese de Sade (translation: ”I… the Marquis de Sade”).
In the USA, the movie was released on May 16, 1967, distributed by Pacemaker Pictures on a double-bill with Terror-Creatures from the Grave. The American version was cut to 74 minutes of predominantly expository scenes.
Image credits: The Telltale Mind