Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Don't Fall Into THE PIT, Because the "Trollalogs" Don't Eat Chocolate! (Review)

 Director: Lew Lehman

Cast: Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias, Sonja Smits

Kino Lorber (KL Studio Classics) / Region A / Rated R / 1.:85: 1 widescreen (1080p) / DTS-HD Stereo / 96 minutes

Disk Extras: Interview with Star Sammy Snyders / Interview with Star Jeannie Elias / Interview with Screenwriter Ian A. Stuart / Audio Commentary by Film Historian Jason Pichonsky / Trailer



Twelve-year-old Jamie is one creepy kid... he has a perverse obsession with sex, his only friend is an evil teddy bear, and he's the only one who knows about the hole in the forest where he feeds raw meat to a ravenous pack of mutant troglodytes. Jamie will teach everyone a lesson: the kids who teased and bullied him, the mean old lady down the street, even his pretty new babysitter. Soon they - and his entire town - will face the flesh-eating horror of THE PIT!

Screenwriter Ian Stuart wrote a very dark movie about a troubled 8-yr-old boy named Jamie whose broken mind believes that troglodytes (or "trollalogs" as he calls them) - who he befriends - live in a hole in the woods. The tone was much more serious and less cheesy than the final film product after one-time director Lew Lehman got ahold of it. Lehman made Jamie an 11-yr-old, added humor to the script and made the monsters real. Stuart has expressed dissatisfaction with the final outcome. Fiction writer John Gault wrote a novelization of The Pit called "Teddy" - referencing Jamie's best friend, his teddy bear, which more closely followed Stuart's original vision.

But in my opinion, the movie works just that way it is. The Jamie character is incredibly creepy and not in the "psycho killer" way so much but as a pervert. I know that 11-yr-old boys have these thoughts because I was one but to have them play out in a movie by a child who is also obviously a little "off", that adds another layer of creepitude. Jamie steals nude photography books, sends naked pictures to his teachers, looks up his babysitter's skirt at the dinner table and makes squirmingly inappropriate sexual comments to just about anyone with a vagina. Child actor Sammy Snyders (who played "Tom Sawyer" in the "Huckleberry Finn and His Friends" TV show) plays the role perfectly.

Ironically, there are no graphic depictions of nudity or sex, although there are a couple quick shots of boobs. That may be because the director's wife didn't want him shooting nude women, so the screenwriter actually had to shoot those scenes except one; the skinny dipping scene which Lehman himself shot. That was because the naked young lady was his daughter, Jennifer Lehman. Uh, hey Mrs. Lehman, does that make it better for you to know that your husband is putting your topless daughter on film? Talk about "creepy"... yeesh! For the most part the gore was tame except for a couple of scenes of the monsters feeding and you also get a bloody ghost of the babysitter (sorry, spoiler alert!) toward the end of the movie.

In all The Pit is a really fun, creepy flick with lots of '80s charm. A little nudity, blood and monsters but lots of childhood sexuality to make you cringe.

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