While Hammer looked overseas to Dracula and Frankenstein, America's cheap-and-cheerful AIP looked closer to home, turning to Edgar Allan Poe's tales of terror for this 1961 Gothic spine-tingler.
Director Roger Corman and Vincent Price made several Poe adaptations in the '60s but none burn off the screen quite like The Pit And The Pendulum. A catalogue of premature burial and extraordinary madness, it sees Price starring as a medieval Spanish noble who's driven insane by the deranged belief that his wife was buried alive in his castle's torture chamber.
The Hammer icon gives a splintered performance of high intensity, but he's matched all the way by Barbara Steele's erotically charged turn as his grave-dodging wife. Aping the brooding psychological intensity of Poe's short stories, it's a minor masterpiece.