With the seventh edition of the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Fest now underway, it seems to appropriate to spool up something from the Great White North. This week’s VHS is Lew Lehman’s 1981 flick The Pit.
When awkward twelve-year-old Jamie (Sammy Snyders) discovers several “Trolologs” in a hole in the forest, he goes to increasingly grisly lengths to keep them fed.
The Pit is such a wonderfully strange movie. Having discovered it during my video store jockey days, it’s really the gift that keeps on giving in that not only do you have a weirdo kid – or “funny person” as one of his tormentors calls him – who talks to his teddy bear, but also carnivorous monsters in the woods. It’s also a bit unusual in that it’s a Canadian production, mostly shot in Wisconsin (the interior pit sequences were done in Toronto according to Imdb) because it’s often the other way around.
Snyders puts in a terrific off-kilter performance as Jamie and considering how bizarre the script must have read, I’m always impressed by how much he committed to it. It would’ve been so easy to go over the top, but he plays everything so matter-of-fact. Sadly, The Pit was one of the last things he did before leaving the biz.
I find Jamie such an interesting subject because he’s clearly a bit off, but not what I would consider evil in the sense we usually see in killer kid flicks. Sure, he’s feeding people to his “pets”, but when you take into account a good majority of the meat were either bullies or just mean folk, it’s sometimes hard not to root for him. He’s weird as fuck to be sure and his obsession with naked ladies probably would’ve escalated, but he ain’t straight up Children of the Corn is what I’m saying.
Also, his babysitter Sandy (Jeannie Elias) may have left her guide book at home. What was she was thinking when she, after being expressly told that Jamie is susceptible to crushes, decides to a) wash Jamie’s back in the tub and b) backpedal when she says she has a boyfriend – “Well, he isn't really what you'd call a boyfriend, he's just a friend.” WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK ARE YOU DOING?
Mind you, this ill-advised behaviour does fall in line with the bonkers tone of the piece. Laughing out loud as Jamie pushes an old lady in a wheelchair through a field to her doom is inevitable, but watching him blackmail his neighbour into undressing at her front window, not so much. I beg to differ with the Sheriff who exclaimed he moved to this town because nothing ever happens.
If there was a critique of The Pit, it would be the pacing, as things come in fits and starts, most noticeably when the opening sequence is replayed (in its entirety I might add) later in the picture. It could also be accused of going on a little too long. After the movie reaches its logical conclusion the narrative completely abandons Jamie for like fifteen minutes, while it turns into Humanoids From The Deep. I’m not going to complain too much, as it was clearly an attempt to add more gore and nudity, but having a bunch of hicks hunt down the Trolologs only served to shine a empathetic light on them. I also want to take this opportunity to give it up for those hairy dudes because they ruled.
I love this movie, but every time I watch it I am always left wondering… What happened to Teddy? A throwaway scene suggested that Teddy was actually sentient so I’ve always wondered what happened to him after Jamie left to play with his new friend, Alicia.