Bloody Pit of Horror

Bloody Pit of Horror (Italian: Il Boia Scarlatto) is a 1965 gothic horror film. The film, set in Italy, was directed by Domenico Massimo Pupillo and stars Mickey Hargitay, Walter Brandi, Luisa Baratto and Rita Klein. It tells the story of a group of women modeling for a photo shoot at a castle, whose owner takes on the identity of the Crimson Executioner, bent on their deaths.

Bloody Pit of Horror
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed byDomenico Massimo Pupillo
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Roberto Natale
  • Romano Migliorini
Story by
  • Roberto Natale
  • Romano Migliorini
Music byGino Peguri
CinematographyLuciano Trasatti
Edited byMariano Arditi
  • M.B.S. Cinematografica
  • International Entertainment Corp.
Release date
  • November 28, 1965 (1965-11-28) (Italy)
  • May 16, 1967 (1967-05-16) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes
  • Italy
  • United States
Box office₤65 million


A group including writer Rick (Walter Bigari); his publisher, Daniel Parks (Alfredo Rizzo); his secretary, Edith (Luisa Baratto); their photographer, Dermott (Ralph Zucker); and five young models enter a seemingly deserted castle to take photos for a horror photonovel. The castle is actually occupied by a former actor, Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay). Anderson initially desires to send the group away, but recognizes Edith (who was once his fiancée) and changes his mind, but decrees the dungeon as off limits. The group ignores this warning and proceed to take photos there anyway. This angers Anderson, who dons a costume and takes the identity of the Crimson Executioner, who was hanged centuries earlier for the crime of having his own private torture chamber. Anderson eventually kills each member of the group until only Edith and Rick remain. Anderson succumbs to his own torture devices and is killed by the poisoned barbs on the "Lover-of-Death" machine. Edith and Rick then escape.


  • Mickey Hargitay as Travis Anderson
  • Walter Bigari as Rick
  • Luisa Baratto as Edith
  • Ralph Zucker as Dermott
  • Alfredo Rizzo as Daniel Parks
  • Nando Angelini as Perry
  • Gino Turini as Henchman #1
  • Roberto Messina as Henchman #2
  • Barbara Nelli as Suzy
  • Moa Tahi as Kinojo
  • Morgan Salpietro as Nancy
  • Femi Benussi as Annie


Bloody Pit of Horror was produced by Francesco Merli and Ralph Zucker.[1]. The screenplay, by Roberto Natale and Romano Migliorini, was developed from their own story.[1] Luciano Trasatti served as the cinematographer, Mariano Arditi as the editor.[1] Gino Peguri composed the score.[1].

The film was shot at Balsorano Castle while interior shots were filmed at Palazzo Borghese, Artena.[1] Hargitay stated that he had little experience in acting, noting that he "wasn't any more of an accomplished actor than a taxi driver", but still felt he provided a good performance in the film.[2]


Bloody Pit of Horror was distributed in Italy by M.B.S. Cinematografica,[1] and released on November 28, 1965 at a runtime of 87 minutes.[1] It grossed a total of 65 million Italian lire on its release. It was released on May 16, 1967 in the United States, distributed by Pacemaker Pictures as a double feature with Terror-Creatures from the Grave.[1] The American version was cut to 74 minutes of predominantly expository scenes.[3] The US promotion of Bloody Pit of Horror made claims that it was based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade. The film was re-released in Italy in 1972 under the title Marchese de Sade (lit.I...the Marquis de Sade)[4]

The complete English-language "friendly" version of the film was released as a special edition DVD by Something Weird Video (distributed by Image Entertainment), and contained the shorter print with deleted scenes included as a supplement.[4] The film has been released numerous times on DVD, with over 20 different releases by various studios.[5]


Critical reception for the film has been mostly negative, with some critics calling it "trashy".[6] In his analysis of the film, Roberto Curti noted its derivation from fotoromanzi and fumetti neri,[7] and dismissed the film as "decidedly campy".[4] Italian critic Roberto Guidotti marked the film as "a comic-strip movie, with a story told through a series of scenes, pictures and pacing that are more akin to comics than cinema. Inside the empty spaces, that open continually, immobilizing the story, one would often be tempted to insert a few captions and balloons".[8] In his book Italian Horror Film Directors, Louis Paul described the film as "a laughable yet disturbing and sadistic entry in the [horror] genre",[9] and "an exercise in homophobia and the debasement of women masked as entertainment".[10]

See also



  1. Curti 2015, p. 138.
  2. Senn 2007, p. 156.
  3. Curti 2015, p. 142.
  4. Curti 2015, p. 143.
  5. "The Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) - Releases". Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  6. Hughes 2011, p. 92.
  7. Curti 2015, p. 140.
  8. Piselli, Stefano; Guidotti, Roberto. "I deliri di un sadico narcisista. Il boia scarlatto". Diva Cinema 1951-1965. Glittering Images edizioni d'essai, 1989. p. 36.
  9. Paul 2005, pp. 19-20.
  10. Paul 2005, p. 307.


  • Curti, Roberto (2015). Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969. McFarland. ISBN 1476619891.
  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.
  • Paul, Louis (2005). Italian Horror Film Directors. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8749-3.
  • Senn, Bryan (2007). A Year of Fear: A Day-by-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films. McFarland. ISBN 1476610908.
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