Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 17th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1989
Director: Brett Leonard
Writers: Gimel Everett, Brett Leonard
Cast: Jeremy Slate, Cheryl Lawson, Stephen Gregory Foster, Danny Gochnauer, Geha Getz, Joan Bechtel, Mara Everett, Jack A. Sunseri, Frederick Dodge, Nettie Heffner, Luana Speelman
DVD released: June 17th, 2008
Approximate running time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Synopsis: Dr. Colin Ramzi has been conducting experimental operations on the patients at the asylum that he works at. Dr. Gerald Swan murders Dr Ramzi after uncovering the truth behind his colleague’s experiments. Twenty years later a young woman arrives at the asylum that has lost her memory. Through hypnosis Dr. Swan helps her recover the missing pieces of her past. In the process her memories help resurrect Dr. Ramzi who picks up right where he left off twenty years before.
The Dead Pit was co-written and directed by Brett Leonard (The Lawnmower Man, Hideaway, Virtuosity). For a first time director Brett Leonard does an amazing job capturing the mayhem and carnage. Brett Leonard does a good job spicing things up with T & A type moments like a scene were Jane Joe is sprayed with a hose while wearing a skimpy shirt and panties. There are few other scenes of her wearing this revealing outfit as she runs through the empty corridors of the hospital.
The scenes were Dr. Colin Ramzi is sticking needles into his victims exposed skulls that he has carved opened are disturbing and gruesome. The film manages so much on a minuscule budget and a lot of why this film works as well as it does is because of its main location Agnew State Hospital. As the story unfolds the hospital becomes a character unto its own. The core of the story revolves around a deranged doctor named Colin Ramzi and his daughter simple known as Jane Doe in the film whose emery lose appears to have been caused by the disappearance of her father at a very young age. The arrival of Jane Doe at the hospital sets in motion Dr. Ramzi’s revenge against Dr. Swan the man who killed him. This also reunites Dr. Ramzi with his daughter now know as Jane Doe.
The cast are all more than adequate in their respective roles. The films two standout performances are Danny Gochnauer as Dr. Colin Ramzi and Cheryl Lawson as Jane Doe. After appearing in The Dead Pit Danny Gochnauer appears to have disappeared from the world of acting and Cheryl Lawson has shifted more towards stunt work with an occasional acting role. The Zombies show up in the films last thirty minutes. The zombies are not imposing and can be disposed up with relative ease. Ultimately The Dead Pit is a fun film that overcomes its short comings.
The Dead Pit is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The source for the transfer is in excellent shape with strong black levels and nicely saturated colors. There is some mild blurring issues during the scenes were the camera is moving around and this is most likely due to the transfer being interlaced instead of being flagged for progressive playback.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Overall this audio mix is nicely done with the films pulsating soundtrack sounding robust and the mix as whole sounds evenly balanced with dialog easy to hear and understand.
Extras for this release include a trailer for The Dead Pit and trailers for other Code Red titles including Night Warning, Beyond the Door, The Unseen, Sole Survivor and The Farmer. Other extras interviews with director/writer Bret Leonard (21 minutes), producer/writer Gimel Everett (11 minutes), Jeremy Slate (14 minutes) and Cheryl Lawson (13 minutes). The main extra included with this release is an audio commentary with Bret Leonard, Gimel Everett and Jeremy Slate. The audio commentary and the interviews give a thorough overview about the film’s production history and legacy. For the most part there are not that many comments that are repeated on the commentary that are also mentioned during the interviews. Of note a two DVD version of The Dead Pit was released exclusively at Best Buy that includes additional extras. Overall The Dead Pit arrives on the DVD format via a fully loaded presentation from Code Red that is sure to please fans of the film as well as first time viewers of this underrated horror film.