In 1648 a man known as the Crimson Executioner is sentenced to death. The Executioner was responsible for the torture and murder of many innocent people. These murders were not part of his normal job as an executioner but for personal sexual gratification. The Executioner vows to return from the dead to get revenge. He is left, sealed into an iron maiden, in his castle for eternity.
For centuries the castle lays abandoned until a horror writer named Rick (Walter Brandi), along with his editor, Daniel Parks (Alfredo Rizzo), (in some versions Daniel is called Max Fox) rent it. Rick plans to write a photonovel using the castle as background. Along with him he brings the publisher’s secretary, Edith (Luisa Baratto), a photographer, Dermott (Ralph Zucker), several models and an assortment of wanna be boyfriends.
They virtually break into the castle and are confronted by a man. The man is one of a couple servants that work for the owner of the castle, Travis Anderson (Mickey Hargitay). At first Anderson wants them to leave but then he sees that one of the women is his former fiancé, Edith (Luisa Baratto). He allows them to stay overnight and take pictures, but the dungeons are off limits.
When two of the men go looking for the wine cellar, they accidentally break the seal of the tomb containing the Crimson Executioner, supposedly releasing his spirit. The presence of the sexy women in the castle makes Anderson believe that he is the reincarnation of the Crimson Executioner. Possessed with the need to wipe out impurity Anderson, now totally mad, begins to torture and kill everyone in the castle.
“Bloody Pit of Horror” AKA “Il Boia Scarlatto” was released in 1965 and was directed by Domenico Massimo Pupillo. It is an Italian horror movie. The original film was 87 minutes long. The American version was cut down to 74 minutes. Ralph Zucker, who plays Dermott, is also the producer of the film. Many of the other actors and staff use Americanized names in the English dubbed versions. Mickey Hargitay’s voice was dubbed by Anthony La Penna in the English language versions.
For an ancient executioner that prefers to be alone he sure talks a lot. Some of the tortures are a little gruesome but when Hargitay starts ranting and raving it gives some of them a campy feel. The sets are also rather flamboyant, and the women are dressed in skimpy outfits. The tortures are also sometimes over the top. It all lends a cartoonish flare to the film. The fact that there isn’t much to the plot and the characters are mostly one dimensional makes the movie not all that good.
Some consider the film squeamishly disturbing and some so bad it’s funny. Others point to the assumed homoerotic undertones. Then there is the sadistic theme that is prominent. Whether the Crimson Executioner’s motivation is for self-gratification or just plain old misogyny doesn’t seem to really matter. As a viewer you’re going to get out of it what you want.
The exterior shots are of Piccolomini Castle in Balsorano Italy. Some of the interior shots are from Palazzo Borghese, Artena, Italy. A photonovel is like a comic book with photographs instead of illustrations. Mickey Hargitay was married to Jane Mansfield and is the father of Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on “Law and Order SVU”. He was a body builder and was Mr. Universe in 1955.