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Way Down in the Hole: Marc Lougee's ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’

The great Ray Harryhausen, the dean of special-effects animators, executive-produced Marc Lougee's disturbing stop-motion adaptation of classic Poe tale "The Pit and the Pendulum," and it's easy to see why: Lougee's characters move with the same unnerving combination of naturalism and otherworldliness that Harryhausen's legendary creations (think Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans) possessed. Poe's elliptical story has provided fodder for many elaborate feature-film retellings, but Lougee's ruthlessly efficient take is short and to the point, packing in a whole lot of tension into seven slim minutes.

Speaking of ruthlessly efficient, "Pendulum" will be shown before the Museum of the Moving Image's Saturday presentation of Lance Weiler's ultracreepy indie horror film Head Trauma, which will be presented as an "interactive multimedia event," complete with live D.J., characters emerging from the audience, and your mobile phone being used as "a cinematic gaming device." Weiler, some may recall, was the co-director of 1998's The Last Broadcast, which many believe served as the original prototype for The Blair Witch Project. Which is just one way of saying beware: This guy knows how to freak out an audience. —Bilge Ebiri