Youtube Film Club: The Pit (1981)


They missed an S off the end of the title because THIS MOVIE SUCKS – boom! Nailed it! I feel like I ought to do the film reviewer equivalent of dropping the mic and walking off stage, but this film is so peculiarly bad, and its status as Youtube-available means I can spoil the hell out of it, that I’ll try and make this fun for us all.


Sammy Snyders, playing lead kid Jamie, never worked again after 1982. That’s not curious, because he’s staggeringly terrible, but what’s curious is how he ever got work in the first place (he was one of the leads in the late 70s version of “Huckleberry Finn”). Jamie is an unfortunate kid – mocked and bullied at school, ignored by his parents, no friends. What seems glaringly obvious to the viewer of 2015 is that Jamie is autistic (actually, this is mentioned on the box of the VHS tape, even if the movie never goes anywhere near it, apparently), so with a bit of medication, some psychological professionals and lots of patience, he could live a normal life. But in the world of 1981, he’s that crazy kid who everyone hates for no reason!


With no explanation or backstory, Jamie’s teddy bear starts talking to him; but more importantly, he finds a large pit in the middle of the woods that has a group of “trollologs” in it. They look like skinny teenagers wearing monkey outfits with weird glowing eyes, but are supposed to be trolls, troglodytes or something of that ilk. The trollologs must have fallen in  the pit themselves as they don’t appear able to move or get out on their own…in the original draft of the script, the monsters only existed in Jamie’s head, which would sort of make sense, but in the finished “masterpiece”, they’re real creatures. I’d lay money on this having been a last-minute change, perhaps even after they’d filmed most of the movie. Don’t question it, because far stupider is yet to come.


Jamie’s parents, clearly sick and tired of their problematic son, go off on a surprisingly long holiday and leave him with a live-in babysitter. Jamie’s only friends are the mute monsters in the pit, so he starts feeding the trollologs raw meat, but when he runs out of money he decides to kill two birds with one stone and takes people who’ve wronged him out to the woods and shoves them down the pit. This works remarkably well, but when the babysitter gets creeped out by him doing stuff like spying on her in the shower, will he feed her to them?


The whole “he’s the creepy one” narrative is spoiled by stuff like her giving him a bath. Now, I can’t think of a single reason an adult woman should give a 12 year old boy a bath – he’s not physically disabled, they aren’t related…it’s a truly horrific scene. It’s moments like this that make you wonder what on earth they were aiming for – although it makes a little more sense when you discover that this is the only movie that Lew Lehman ever directed and the only one that Ian Stuart ever wrote (hilariously, Lehman’s wife refused to let him shoot the scenes with nudity in them, so the screenwriter took over for those).


Even for a site that specialises in poorly made movies, this stands out. As you’ve either watched it or will never watch it, I’ll go into a bit more detail. First up is the scene where Jamie records one side of a conversation on his Dictaphone and calls up the mother of one of his tormentors. He’s able to predict what she’ll say and gets her to take her top off in the window so he can photograph her, by claiming to have kidnapped her daughter (she walks in seconds after the photos are taken). There’s the jokey comedy music playing over scenes of kidnap and murder. But weirdest of all is the timeline.


Jamie kills one of his classmates and his girlfriend, then what appears to be several days passes. Now, think about famous child disappearance cases in this country – the media panic, the huge searches, all of it. In “The Pit”, one policeman is mildly curious about the missing kids, and literally no-one else seems to give a damn. Jamie also kills his babysitter’s boyfriend so he can have her all to himself, and her attitude towards her boyfriend’s disappearance is slightly less bothered than you or I would be about a missing sock.


After he’s let the trollologs out of the pit, they kill a bunch more people then are hunted down and killed by the townspeople (who just fill up the pit and go about their business as if nothing happened, who cares about missing children). But we’re treated to a little coda, as Jamie goes to live with his grandparents, now seemingly cured of whatever was ailing him before. There’s even a girl around his own age for him to play with…and that’s when ISCFC reviewer Kilran, joining me for this gem, said:


“There’s going to be another pit, and she’s going to shove him into it”


He was right, of course. The countryside is chuffing packed with pits full of creatures previously unknown to science, but only kids can find them or something. Seriously, movie, you suck.


It’s absolutely awful, just slow and stupid and full of bad choices, ugly camerawork, and poor acting. The truly odd thing is, how I seem to be in a minority. IMDB rating is currently 5.9, there’s a number of positive reviews by sites like this, and I have no idea what’s happening with the world. I would rather watch “After Last Season” again than this.


Rating: thumbs down


2 thoughts on “Youtube Film Club: The Pit (1981)

  1. Pingback: Things (1989) |

  2. Pingback: Fateful Findings (2014) |

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