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Quatermass & The Pit

Quatermass & The Pit


We have met the enemy, and it is us: when a Martian spacecraft with a terrifying link to the origins of humanity is unearthed beneath a London tube station, only the esteemed Professor Bernard Quatermass (a very British–and possibly mad–precursor t

Rating: (out of 68 reviews)

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posted by chris in Science Fiction and have Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Quatermass & The Pit”

  1. cookieman108 says:

    Review by cookieman108 for Quatermass & The Pit
    Quatermass and the Pit (1968) is the third in the Quatermass series, beginning with The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), and followed by Quatermass 2 (1957), all written by Nigel Kneale, and is certainly one of the better Hammer Studios releases. (That’s a whole lot of Quatermass…)The film starts out with an interesting find during the renovation of an underground subway station in the English town of Hobb’s End. Seems the workers found some ancient skeletal remains, early primate man it appears, prompting the work to stop, allowing for Dr. Mathew Roney (James Donald), his assistant Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley, yowsa, yowsa) and a group of anthropologists to catalogue this remarkable discovery. The situation soon turns from fantastic to frightening, as part of a large, metal object is uncovered, leading some to believe it may be an unexploded German bomb from the last world war. Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Kier), a physicist and rocket scientist, along with Colonel Breen (Julian Glover, who later appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and the military soon arrive to deal with the situation, but further digging reveals the large object not to be a remnant of a past war. Turns out, it’s not even an object of this Earth, as various attempts to penetrate the hull prove fruitless, as the object is of a material not recognizable to anyone. Not only that, but a secret compartment reveals child-sized inhabitants of a bug-like nature. As the scientists, the military, and the government grapple with this incredible find and all its’ possible implications, the dissention amongst the parties involved begins, as not only of the origin of the object, and how best to disseminate information to the questioning public.After Barbara, with the flaming red hair and beckoning green eyes (sorry…I got a little carried away) uncovers information about past odd happenings in the Hobb’s End area, Professor Quatermass develops some interesting theories about the possibility of alien intervention in human development and reasons why. This opens a whole new can of worms, and to say Colonel Breen and various high-ranking government officials were less than receptive to these theories is putting it lightly. There position, akin to an ostrich putting its’ head in the sand, is that the object and anything within was all a part of some German propaganda during the past war, designed to sow confusion and fear. This turns out not to be true, as everyone learns later. More scientific investigation reveals some truly interesting, and somewhat terrifying details. In the end, the terror becomes a reality, and the stuff really hits the fan as the object turns out to be much more than anyone had expected or could have conceived.To me, this is an excellent example of a true science fiction film. The story is thick with rich, creamy flavor as elements are revealed, tying in not only with the present, but also the past. The conclusion to the story is satisfying, but one is left with any number of questions that may never be answered, due to the plot intricacies developed through the film. I really liked the portrayal of the powers that be in that they weren’t trying to cover up some big secret, but just unwilling to face certain facts for fear that this information would have repercussions beyond the imagination, and most would probably not be able to even begin to wrap their minds around the possibilities presented with the alien object. There is a real depth to this movie, one that keeps drawing you deeper and deeper, heaping implications on top of implications, giving this viewer the sense that his mind was actually being blown. The whole affair was very intelligent and well put together, leading up to a very exciting climax. I would recommend this to any fan of true science fiction, as it exemplifies what can be achieved when all the pieces come together. This would certainly be the career highlight of capable director Roy Ward Baker, who also directed such films as Scars of Dracula (1970), Asylum (1972), And Now the Screaming Starts (1973), and The Monster Club (1980). James Donald (Dr. Mathew Roney) also appeared prominently the classic WWII film The Great Escape (1963). Andrew Kier (Prof. Quatermass) appeared in other Hammer films like Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), along with costar Barbara Shelley, and also the less than stellar The Viking Queen (1967).The wide screen print on the disc looks very good, with only very minor signs of wear in a couple of places, and special features, which are on the flipside of the disc, include US and UK theatrical trailers, TV spots, a feature length commentary track by director Roy Ward Baker and writer Nigel Kneale, and a World of Hammer episode entitled `Sci-Fi’. If you’re in the mood for an intelligent and highly entertaining science fiction film, you won’t be disappointed in Quatermass and the Pit.Cookieman108

  2. Brian Dowling says:

    Review by Brian Dowling for Quatermass & The Pit
    Quatermass & The Pit is one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made, period. Set in 1960s London, a tube station is being extended when bones and what might be an unexploded World War II bomb are found. This is the cue for some intense weirdness to start happening.The screenplay does not suffer for the changes for the movie from the original tv series some 12 years earlier, as it was done by writer Nigel Kneale himself. Roy Ward Baker’s direction is spot on as well, giving Julian Glover, Barbara Shelley, James Donald and particularly Andrew Keir as Quatermass room to perform.The DVD itself has a delightful second soundtrack taking the form of a discussion between Kneale and Baker which sheds light on many aspects of the filming, as well as theatre and tv trailers and the World Of Hammer episode on science fiction.This is an example of a fine film which has been given a valuable extra for DVD. Buy it.

  3. Bill W. Dalton says:

    Review by Bill W. Dalton for Quatermass & The Pit
    This 1967 final entry in the Quatermass trilogy is a solid piece of work, with a fine cast, tight direction, and an imaginative story: a Martian spaceship that has lain buried for five million years is discovered under the streets of London by subway workers, the alien lifeforce within it is awakened and unleashed, and wreaks an ancient havoc on modern man.The late Brian Donlevy portrayed Prof. Quatermass in the first two movies (The Quatermass Experiment and Quatermass 2) but Andrew Keir plays the role here, and is quite effective. James Donald is understated and competent, as always. And the lovely Barbara Shelley, a veteran of Hammer horror films, is compelling in a non-romantic role as Donald’s assistant. This DVD has for Extras two trailers (one British, one American) and a short documentary featuring film clips of Hammer Sci-fi films sparsely narrated by the late Oliver Reed, which has no information at all about Hammer Studios, its rise and fall, which would have added interest. There’s a rather mundane commentary by screenwriter Nigel Kneale and director Roy Ward Baker, two TV spot commercials, a chapter index, and that’s about it. The movie is in widescreen format and the image quality is good. If you’ve never seen this excellent example of British science-fiction, I recommend it highly. If you want a DVD version for your collection, you probably won’t be disappointed, either.

  4. Troy M. Ros says:

    Review by Troy M. Ros for Quatermass & The Pit
    This was the first of 7 films that Roy Ward Baker directed for Hammer. I also feel that it was possibly Hammer’s finest moment. I have seen this movie at least 5 times and I still love it. This is a remake of a British television series entitled Quatermass and the Pit. The same writer was used on the film and much of the same dialogue is used. And maybe Hammer has some other moments as equally fine as this, but this is such a good movie.While digging a new subway tunnel underneath London, a large, metallic object is discovered. Different experts are brought in and the official story from the military is that it is an experimental type of bomb from from the Germans from WW II that didn’t work. Others aren’t so sure, including Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir). A little bit of detective work by Professor Quatermass and his assistant Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley) turns up that the area of London that the object was discovered at, Hobbs Lane, has had a history of strange phenomena going back centuries. In fact the name Hobbs as it turns out, is actually a medieval name for the Devil. Quatermass proposes that the object is an alien craft that has been buried for centuries, if not millennia, despite the military’s insistence that it is a German dud. And soon after the discovery of the object, workers start dying or start having psychotic episodes with visions of seeing aliens that look like insects (kind of like a cross between a praying mantis and a grasshopper actually). The military is trying every tool they can to drill into the object, but to no effect. A cover finally opens up and all hell starts breaking loose around Hobbs Lane. Winds are blowing and people are being driven mad by the visions they are seeing. There is also a giant apparition of an alien that appears in the sky above Hobbs Lane. The Professor figures out a way to bring the power in the spaceship to a halt by running a giant electrified crane into the apparition and save London. If you have ever seen Lifeforce (1985), you’ll notice the endings are somewhat similar. There are winds swirling around London with debris flying everywhere and sirens going off and some terrific noise all around. People are running through the streets either out of their minds or trying to get away from the madness. And one lone figure knows how to put a stop to all of it. I hope my description of the movie doesn’t turn you off, because despite the goofy sounding story it really is a well done movie. All of the principle actors do an outstanding job, especially Barbara Shelley and Andrew Kier. The first time I saw this movie on TV in the late 70′s it was under the title 5 Million Years to Earth. It was probably 10 years before I saw the movie again on TV, and I was so excited to be seeing it again. Fortunately for all of us, Anchor Bay has released this movie on dvd in 1998. What is included on the disk is a commentary by director Roy Ward Baker and a World of Hammer episode entitled “Sci-Fi”. I have only ever seen one copy in dvd stores and of course I bought it. So I know it is not a very common title to have in stock at most outlets. I highly recommend buying this for your permanent movie collection.

  5. Mark Norvell says:

    Review by Mark Norvell for Quatermass & The Pit
    Workers in a London underground railway station unearth humanoid skeletons—setting off excitement among the scientific and anthropological experts. But then a stranger object is found and the military gets involved, believing it to be a bomb. It turns out to be a spacecraft. Col.Breen (Julian Glover) explains it all away as a German craft left over from WWII. Dr.Roney (James Donald) and his assistant Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley) are skeptical due to the skeletons but the estimable physicist Prof.Quatermass (Andrew Keir) thinks there’s a more otherworldly explanation. There are legends and superstitions around the railway station area of hauntings and “goblins” that are too well documented to be ignored. Then strange vibrations begin to eminate from the spacecraft and the remains of the hideous crew are discovered. Breen and his superiors go into complete denial of extraterrestrial visitation while Roney, Barbara and Quatermass bond together to explore things further. And the results are horrifying. Superior Martian lifeforms that resemble giant locusts came to earth in these ships and took back with them ape-like early human beings to mutate with in an attempt to cleanse their own race…then returned with them to earth to repopulate on our planet as Mars was no longer capable of supporting life. Thus, we are descended from this unspeakable union! What’s more, this arthropodic race of Martians were evil—capable of creating such powerful telekinetic energy that could create havoc and destroy as well as control the minds of lesser beings. When the ship vibrates to life, sending telekinetic energy every which way, all hell breaks loose. This is an incredible, intelligent sci-fi/horror story with a matchless cast delivering expert performances. A truly superior Hammer film. Excellent color, claustrophobic atmosphere and modest but remarkable special effects with top-notch direction from Roy Ward Baker make this a collector’s item for any sci-fi/horror/Hammer fan. Excellent DVD treatment from Anchor Bay as well. Highly recommended all around.

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