What’s it about?
A bunch of primitive ape-like skeletons are found while the London Underground is being extended. Not long after finding these fossilised bones, the discovery is made of what is at first believed to be an unexploded German bomb from the last war.
Dr Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) are sent to inspect the bomb and questions are raised as to its origin from the fact that they can not identify the metal its made of, and also, that there are million year old bones surrounding the object. Quatermass soon believes that it’s not a bomb at all, but something… from another planet!
Colonel Breen refuses to believe such nonsense, but we get the feeling early on that some Martian shit is going to hit the fan (the fan being Breen’s face).
This is the third in Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series and, like the others, was adapted from his own TV script. Quatermass and the Pit has a different director than the previous two outings as well as a different actor playing the lead (this being made 9 years after Quatermass 2 due to concerns from the American financers).
How’s the picture and sound?
The picture is lovely, which actually hurts some of the crummy special effects. In HD we can see thick wires making objects ‘float’, but the absolute worse of the effects is in the recording of mass murder from the alien creatures. We get to see the recording when Quatermass tries to convince his peers of the dangers of the pod. It’s supposed to be a weird looking glimpse of the Martians going mental from millions of years ago (captured on a subconscious memory recorder) but it looks more like an episode of The Clangers with the budget halved.
The plot spends most of the time flitting between the dig site and the Home Office, but once things get going we’re treated to some lovely shots of London in the midst of an apocalypse.
The sound is also a winner, mainly because the film’s composer, Tristram Carey, had an interest in electronically produced noise. Whenever any freaky shit goes down it’s usually accompanied by some brain melting drones and high pitched tones, along with a standard spooky score.
The extras look a bit thin when listed on the back of the sleeve, but fear not! There’s a treasure trove of interviews from a bunch of Quatermass know-it-alls that include Mrs Neale, the amazingly likable and knowledgeable Kim Newman, Joe Dante, who also knows his Hammer from his Amicus, Julian Glover, Hammer Film Historian Marcus Hearn and Mark Gatiss. The interviews vary in length from 10 to 30 minutes, so watched back to back you get about 2 hours of chatter.
There’s a UK trailer, an American trailer, as well the alternative opening credits from the American version, which is the same as ours except for its title: ‘5 Million Years To Earth!’
There is also an episode of The World Of Hammer which showcases the science fiction films that Hammer once produced. And to cap the extra treats off, there’s a commentary from a previous dvd release by director Roy Ward Baker and writer Nigel Kneale.
So it’s good, right?
The film still stands as fantastic piece of science fiction thanks to Kneale’s concept that suggests the evil in man came about after our primitive ape-like selves were abducted and had our DNA mixed with the (devil-like) Martians to ensure their own survival. This release also comes in double-play format (Blu-ray and DVD).
It’s camper than scented candles and the effects are definitely not special, but to its credit QATP manages a creepiness that most films produced today can only dream of mimicking. It successfully, and slowly, builds up tension right from the discovery of the pod to the crazy apocalyptic climax that sees the streets of London crumbling.
Extra Features Rating:
When’s it out?
Monday 10th October