Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Who’s in it? James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover
What’s it about? Released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth, Quatermass and the Pit is based on Roger Kneale’s 1958 BBC TV serial “Quatermass” and follows the potentially cataclysmic repercussions of the discovery of a 5-million-year-old spaceship during the excavation of a new London Underground line. When the other-worldly antique is unearthed and mysteriously begins to trigger ghostly visions of apparently long dead Martians in some unsuspecting members of the general public, Professor Bernard Quatermass is called into investigate, uncovering an intergalactic conspiracy which leads to some worrying discoveries about the origin of human life on earth.
Memorable Moments? The terror in the eyes of Keir’s Quatermass and his cronies following the explosion in the underground is palpable, when the potentially catastrophic answer to the trailer’s questions “Who are they running from?”, “What have they seen?”, “Whom do they fear?”, buried for millennia in the bowels of London, issues dramatically from the deep past.
Look Who’s Talking: ‘One of the high points of Hammer’s film production, and a worthy addition to the cannon of films and TV realisations of the products of Nigel Kneale’s probing, prescient imagination.’ – Film4
Like that? Try this: Quatermass 2/Enemy from Space (1957) was written as a follow up to Hammer Productions 1955 film The Quatermass Experiment which, like the original, is based on wonderfully popular and acclaimed BBC serials The Quatermass Experiment and Quatermass II. The plot follows Professor Quatermass’ research into a suspected alien conspiracy thought to go right to the top of the British government, as he investigates strange meteorite activity in rural England and attempts to persuade a sceptical public of his findings.
Trivia Pursuit: Apparently director Roy Ward Baker originally wanted Kenneth More (The 39 Steps) for the role of Quatermass but was overruled by Hammer studio bosses.
Ronan Wright writes from Belfast and blogs at Filmplicity.