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  Pit, The The Hole Truth
Year: 1981
Director: Lew Lehman
Stars: Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias, Sonja Smits, Laura Hollingsworth, Laura Press, Paul Grisham, Wendy Schmidt, Andrea Swartz, Edith Becker, Lilian Graham, Richard Alden, Patrick Patterson, J.R. Zimmerman, Sandy Kovack, Jennifer Lehman, John C. Bassett
Genre: Horror, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jamie Benjamin (Sammy Snyders) is a problem child with no friends and a tendency to get into trouble at school, like today when he is punished for stealing a book of artistic nudes from the library. The teacher, Mrs Lynde (Sonja Smits), sees that a picture has been cut out, but he denies all knowledge of that and continues to write lines on the blackboard until she instructs him to stop and allows him to leave. Whereupon he returns to planning his next move with the teddy bear he converses with... planning revenge on those who have slighted him.

A very strange Canadian horror movie, The Pit would appear to be the result of a very singular vision, and that would belong to Lew Lehman, the director whose only film this was. He also co-wrote the barely released Phobia for John Huston, but among cult movie fans it was this which he would best be recalled for, essentially because this was so downright odd. He made his own changes to Ian A. Stuart's script, so that where most other chillers would have such aspects as the talking teddy bear and the creatures in the pit of the title to have been a figment of the boy's imagination, here they were all too real.

Or at least you were intended to accept them as real, which made for some very strange viewing as Jamie begins to pick off those he dislikes by pushing them into the hole for the creatures down there to eat. He didn't start out doing that straight away, as he wasn't sure what they actually consumed until he worked out it was meat that they fancied, first buying from the butcher and then, when he ran out of money, resorting to feeding people to his new friends. Not that they had much in the way of personality, being played by short actors with glowing eyes on the costumes, sort of like the Morlocks from The Time Machine (sixties version); the film calls them Trogs, Jamie calls them "Trollogs".

Whether that was due to the actor not being able to pronounce Trogs or not is unclear, but it's a curious performance all the same. Snyders would be familiar to viewers of a certain age as Tom Sawyer from the seemingly endless Canadian television adaptation of the Mark Twain books which appeared on British screens for what felt like the whole of the eighties, on a loop. He went on to become a dance tutor, but you see little of that physical dexterity here, he doesn't even have to push his victims into the pit most of the time as they stumble right into it as if they didn't notice it yawning before them in the ground set in a woodland clearing. But there is one person Jamie does like.

That's Sandy (Jeannie Elias), his babysitter and housekeeper who looks after him while his equally bizarre parents are away, and who he likes to peep at, offering such memorable lines as "I was just watching you sleep - what's wrong with that?" as if being a budding stalker was perfectly normal behaviour. Poor old Sandy lives to regret trying to reason with the child, even if he doesn't mean her any harm, but this is one of those films where the motivation was purely for the best effect of each scene, no matter that not much of this made sense. Why does Teddy talk (and turn his head to watch Sandy when she's not looking)? Where did the Trogs come from? Questions such as those go unanswered as if Lehman was solely interested in his own ideas of what a horror movie should consist of, no matter that they didn't gel with any conventional notions and little wonder when the results here were so determinedly off-kilter. It wasn't filmed in an surreal manner, it didn't seem to be funny on purpose, but that was the impression all the same. Music by Victor Davies (which sounds sitcommy in places).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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