GenreHorror ScreenplayBrett Leonard CountryUnited States
Release date1989 (1989) WriterGimel Everett, Brett Leonard CastJeremy Slate (Dr. Gerald Swan), Cheryl Lawson (Jane Doe), Stephen Gregory Foster (Christian Meyers), Danny Gochnauer (Dr. Colin Ramzi), Geha Getz (Sister Clair), Joan Bechtel (Nurse Kygar) Similar moviesRelated Brett Leonard movies
The dead pit 1989
The Dead Pit is a 1989 American horror film. It was co-written and directed by Brett Leonard, and is his directorial debut. Cheryl Lawson stars as a mental patient who must defeat an undead serial killer who previously worked at the asylum, played by Danny Gochnauer.
The Dead Pit opens with Dr. Ramzi, a deviant who enjoys torturing his patients, being killed and buried in the basement of a mental health facility. Twenty years later, the hospital is running again and Jane Doe arrives at the institute. Upon her arrival, a major earthquake rocks the building and unearths the now undead Dr. Ramzi and his legion of zombie patients.
Jeremy Slate as Dr. Gerald Swan
Cheryl Lawson as Jane Doe
Stephen Gregory Foster as Christian Meyers
Danny Gochnauer as Dr. Ramzi
Filming took place at Agnew's Development Center in Santa Clara, California. Ken Kesey had previously used this as the setting for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The United States premiere was in October 1989.
The original US VHS release from Imperial Entertainment housed the film in a relief cover that lit up the eyes of the main zombie when a button was pushed. This version was cut to receive an R-rating.
The US company Code Red DVD released the film on DVD June 17, 2008. Special features include commentaries from Brett Leonard and late actor Jeremy Slate as well as interviews with both and Cheryl Lawson, the original theatrical trailer, and other trailers for upcoming Code Red releases. The version released by Code Red is an unrated director's cut, featuring six additional minutes of footage cut for an R rating.
The Dead Pit received positive reviews upon release from Fangoria and Slaughterhouse. Fangoria later included the film in its 101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen, where they wrote, "This serious attempt at horror never quite hits its mark, evolving into a series of gory laughs, which is what is so endearing about it." Drive-In critic Joe Bob Briggs gave the film four stars (his highest rating) and praised lead Cheryl Lawson's screaming ability. Steve Barton of Dread Central rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote, "For me, Dead Pit is more than a guilty pleasure. It’s a movie so bad that it's hard not to enjoy it." Marc Patterson of Brutal as Hell called it "low budget filmmaking at its finest". Bill Gibron of DVD Talk rated it 2/5 stars and described it as "a simple slasher film upended by a Lucio Fulci inspired unnecessary unleashing of the living dead". In The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle wrote, "Leonard's uninvolving psychological horror revels in shock effects and disrupted narrative logic, poured into the tired dreamworld and asylum settings of Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellbound."