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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Suspense Sundays (42) The Pit and the Pendulum

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"The Pit and the Pendulum"
Air date: January 12, 1943
Starring Henry Hull
This is based on the well known Edgar Allan Poe story of suspense where a prisoner during the Spanish Inquistion is subjected to some pretty horrifying situations.  First the pit of unknown depth and rats at the bottom, and then tied up with a sharp blade swinging slowly downwards towards him.  Will the prisoner survive?

Since the original story is largely an interior monologue, the adaptor - John Dickson Carr - decided to add the people that the prisoner knows to talk to him in his head.  There is girlfriend (or what it his wife?) and the Interrogator to move the story along, but in a way I didn't feel that this device worked very well.  It just made the prisoner rather annoying actually, because his reaction to what these people are saying to him "inside his head" didn't feel realistic given that he must already have known these things.  It was too obvious a gimmick.  The Poe story is excellent of course, and the idea of this deadly prison chamber is very chilling.

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