Jarv’s Schlock Vault: The Pit
What do you think Teddy? Shall I tell her my secret?
Jarv’s Rating: 2.5 Changs. Weird and unexpected. Nevertheless really quite amusing.
Hehehehe, look at that poster. Familiar isn’t it? It’s an early 80’s photoshop job- they’ve taken The iconic Evil Dead poster, and superimposed a creepy kid and a mutant Ewok onto it. How cheeky.
This is one fucked up little film. It’s surprisingly hard to get hold of, almost as if the entire world just wants to flush it away. However, I’d heard of it in passing as being one of the great examples of early 80’s schlock, so it became a holy grail to get hold of, and I have to say that I’m glad I persisted.
Basically, The Pit is about an autistic kid that talks to his teddy bear. He’s got a pathetic crush on his housekeeper, and everyone in town thinks he’s a loathsome little retard. He’s isolated, unhappy, and his only friend is his teddy bear. However, he has a secret: there’s a big fucking hole in the middle of the local woods where some fuzzy dwarven bastards called “Trollogs” live. For some reason, “teddy” tells him that it’s his responsibility to look after them. Anyhow, he takes the advice to feed them meat, and as he runs out of money, the only alternative is to feed people in the town that have been mean to him to them. So it’s bye-bye loathsome ginger neighbour, adios blind wheelchair-bound old lady, au revoir housekeeper’s boyfriend, and so long school bullies.
Eventually, things get completely fucked up, housekeeper falls in and a guilt-ridden Jamie decides that he can’t feed them any more people so he throws a rope down and allows the trollogs to escape. The town’s population catch on, gun down the furry bastards, and fill the hole in. Jamie goes to stay with his grandma and makes friends with his cousin in law- who brilliantly tips him in a hole full of furry bastards.
This film is fucking hilarious. The acting is basically terrible. Sammy Snyders is on screen almost the entire film as Jamie- and it’s a thankless role. He’s supposed to be highly intelligent but undiagnosed autistic, and this cannot be an easy role to play. Needless to say, he isn’t up to the task. He just comes across as shrill and creepy, with his relentless pursuit of his hot housekeeper being little more than gross. Jeannie Elias is much, much better as Sandy. She has a nice line in exasperation with the little turd, and her performance is one of the brighter aspects of the movie.
The kills themselves are fucking hilarious. People just don’t seem to be able to see this big fucking hole in the wood, and sort of dive in in a comedy way. However, special note goes to the sequence where he tips the wheelchair bound old woman in. I nearly bust one laughing at this. When the trollogs actually do get hold of a victim, the sequences are satisfyingly messy, even if the trollogs themselves are kind of pathetic. Sandy’s demise is, in particular, extremely well handled- with a well thought out cliffhanger as Jamie struggles to pull her out before the trollogs get their claws on her.
What really makes this film interesting, though, is that it’s tonally very, very fucking weird. The first half of the film in particular feels like they were attempting to set Jamie up as a nutjob serial killer. He talks to his only friend, his teddy bear, who weirdly replies to him. Nobody else can converse with a stuffed toy, but there’s no indication at all that the teddy may be actually alive. However, roughly half way through the film Sandy discovers Jamie’s stash of porn (hidden in the traditional place- under his mattress), says something inconsequential then leaves the room. Just after she exits, the camera pans to the teddy’s head and it swivels 90 degrees to look at the camera. So the teddy can talk to him- therefore it is real, and he’s not just a lonely fruitcake. Which leads to the next question: is the teddy possessed by the trollogs? and if not, then what the fuck is going on?
To further add to the sense of “what the fuck”, it almost feels like there were 2 separate groups working on The Pit. On one hand you’ve got Jamie, the director, and the cinematographers, who think that they’re making a proper horror film, and on the other hand there’s Sandy and the supporting cast, the designers of the trollogs and the composer. They all seem to be well aware that this is a terrible horror film, so seem to be doing their utmost to subvert it into its natural home: comedy. Therefore, Sandy is totally aware of how fucking ridiculous the premise is, the support (the cops in particular) are clearly playing it for laughs, the trollogs remind me more of Ewoks than anything else and the score veers between shittily done tension music and a downright hilarious comedy score. It’s really very, very odd.
Overall, would I recommend this? Well, I was a bit fucked up when I watched it, and as a result, I completely enjoyed it. It’s prime piss-taking material, and I have to say that I had a great time watching it. It’s funny when it needs to be, completely inappropriate when it wants to be (the creepy message Jamie leaves on the mirror when Sandy is in the shower, or when he asks Sandy to bathe him being prime examples), and satisfyingly messy on occasion. The final third, with the trollogs wandering around the town killing people is in particular one of the most unintentionally amusing things I’ve seen in a while. So, I have to say that I would recommend it, but be warned that The Pit is a film to watch with the irony turned up as high as you can. It is amusing but in no sense of the word could it be called well made or even successful.
Until next time,