“The Pit and the Pendulum” is typical of other Poe stories that present horrifying and extreme predicaments. In “A Descent into the Maelstrom” (1841) the predicament is natural rather than man-made. “MS. Found in a Bottle” is also a “predicament” story, although in it the dilemma is seemingly supernatural. Poe also wrote several satires of the “predicament” story, such as “How to Write a Blackwood Article” (1838) and a story entitled simply “Predicament” (1838). “The Pit and the Pendulum” is also similar to such Poe stories as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Premature Burial” (1844), which focus on the common nineteenth-century theme of being buried alive.
Poe’s popularity has lead to a large number of commercial films based on his stories. The most familiar series, a string of low-budget films produced by American International Pictures, was made in the early 1960s by director Roger Corman and featured such classic and familiar horror-movie actors as Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and John Carradine. The Pit and the Pendulum, released in 1961, featured Vincent Price in a slick and highly polished film in which Price thinks he is his own father, the most vicious and cruel torturer of the Spanish Inquisition. Although the film bears little resemblance to the original Poe tale, in terms of its tone and technique, it is a cut above the usual adaptations of Poe’s stories.