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John’s Horror Corner: The Dead Pit (1989), one of the weaker zombie-ish B-movies of the 80s.

March 28, 2021

MY CALL: For all its effort, this movie remains unimpressive and highly forgettable, even if somewhat entertaining. I just kept expecting it to get better… and it never did. This movie had a lot of untapped potential considering the films that director Brett Leonard (The Lawnmower Man, Virtuosity) helmed in the following years.. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Dead Pit: For more doctors behaving badly, check out Re-Animator (1985) and sequels, Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Dr. Giggles (1992), Boxing Helena (1993), or The House on Haunted Hill (1999).

At the State Institution for the Mentally Ill, the twisted Dr. Ramzi has been abducting patients and taking them down into a secret underground crypt beneath the hospital. Deep in these catacombs, he performed experiments on them and piled their cadavers into a foul pit. Upon discovery of these foul crimes against humanity, his superior Dr. Swan (Jeremy Slate; The Lawnmower Man) confronted Ramzi, shot him dead in his own pit, and then sealed the secret entrance from the world for 20 years.

The very day that amnesiac patient Jane Doe (Cheryl Lawson; The Vineyard) is admitted, an earthquake creates a fissure re-opening the cryptly basement and freeing the apparently still alive and now undead Dr. Ramzi to wreak havoc on the hospital once again. Oh, and for whatever reason, Jane has some sort of psychic connection to the hospital. No clue why. But the 80s did love psychic stuff in 80s movies.

When she’s dressed for bed (which is most scenes of this movie, it seems), Jane looks like the star of a softcore Penitentiary Girls movie. I think a producer must have liked her a little too much, because she always looks the instigator of a sex scene that never happens. And in that spirit, this movie features what I can only describe as a “mean-spirited” wet T-shirt contest scene. It is laughably raunchy, but clearly not meant to be funny either.

In the first half of the movie the gore is okay and the death scenes are completely forgettable. Like most 80s horror, the last third of the movie packs most of the punch. In the present case, the evil doctor resurrects his past patients as twitchy zombies with low budget zombie trappings that begin to ravage the hospital staff with weak zombie violence.

The deaths that ensue were very gory, even if on a very tight budget. But really, for all its effort, this movie remains unimpressive and highly forgettable, even if somewhat entertaining. I just kept expecting it to get better… and it never did. After all, evil doctor movies just open themselves up to crazy medical experiments and reanimated mania. I feel this movie had a lot of untapped potential. Especially considering the films that director Brett Leonard (The Lawnmower Man, Virtuosity) helmed in the following years.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. rdfranciswriter permalink
    March 29, 2021 5:30 pm

    Oh, the memories of the box. And that’s all I remember.

    Then there’s The Pit — with the Teddy Bear with glowing eyes that talked to Sammy. And that’s all I remember. Well, that and the little troll things in the hole.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 29, 2021 7:43 pm

      I haven’t seen The Pit since childhood. I almost watched it right after this by virtue of title theme.

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        March 29, 2021 8:23 pm

        It’s been a while since I’ve seen The Pit. But it’s hard forget how weird the kid character was written. And the Teddy Bear. And if the Teddy Bear was possessed or the kid was whacked. And, I think the bear talked to him. Been so long! Again, hard to forget the weirdness of it all.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 29, 2021 9:16 pm

      Long indeed. I likely saw it somewhere in 1989-1993 during an all night horror sleep over with a fellow horror fan of my youth. I remember none of it. It’d be like a first time watch when I finally get back to it.

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