Retro Review: ‘The Pit’

I believe I have some kind of brain condition where whenever I stumble across some low-budget horror movie that likely adorned the aisles of video stores. Recently I stumbled across a 1981 Canadian horror movie, and because I have a soft spot for 80’s horror flicks from the Great White North, The Pit was too tempting to pass up.

An strange socially-ostracized little creep named Jamie has only one friend. That friend happens to be his eerie teddy bear who talks back to him and encourages the kid’s worst impulses. When his parents go out of town, a poor naïve babysitter named Sandy is hired to take care of Jamie and she does not know what she is getting into. She becomes the object of his immature lust which drives the young woman to anger. In the forests around their town, Jamie has discovered a deep pit and within it are vicious, flesh-eating monsters he dubs Trolologs. He sees an opportunity to have his revenge on those he believes wronged him. One-by-one anyone who crossed the little sociopath are led to this hole in the woods to become food for the monsters.

The official summaries of this film I have read try to sell The Pit by making the character Jamie sound like some poor ostracized victim of bullies. The reality of the movie is that the character of Jamie is just the worst in every way. That being said child actor Sammy Snyder plays him as an unrepentant little shit and does it so very well. He does not even try to give the brat any redeeming qualities as one would suspect. This lends itself greatly to the sense of dark humor of the film as he clearly enjoyed sending people to their deaths/ At one point he delightfully charges full speed ahead with an elderly wheelchair bound woman and dumps her into the pit.

Everything about the Pit is pure trashy horror gold and has no intention of apologizing for it. It gives you: a demonic toy, an evil kid, ghosts, and man-eating trolls in a hole, and it is all as stupid as it sounds. Somehow the director Lew Lehman, had to take the strange mess of a screenplay he got and turned it into something that is incredibly entertaining. It was Lehman who had the golden idea to make the Trolologs real monsters rather than creations of Jamie’s imagination. Sure takes away what could have been an interesting psychological element of the original screenplay, but as silly as this movie is having cave monsters is simply the cherry on top of it all.

As you might expect a movie this wonderfully strange has developed a bit of a cult following over time. This can be chalked up to the years it spent floating around video store shelves, DVD bargain bins, and late night TV showings. According to the 125% reliable source, Wikipedia, a novel was published based on the original script of this film. Screenwriter Ian A. Stuart, was always vocal about how he disliked the final product even if he himself oversaw the shooting of the gratuitous nude scenes when the director’s wife forbid him from doing so. The Pit is one of those obnoxious horror movies that lovers of cult cinema always delight in finding and if they have not, this is one to put forth the effort and seek out.