Quatermass And The Pit (1967)


Rating 5

Directed by Roy Ward Baker

Written by Nigel Kneale

Starring Andrew Kerr, Barbara Shelley, James Donald and Julian Glover

It seems a bit strange now, but I found this film very unsettling, scary even, when I first watched it. Something about it was just decidedly disturbing.

This is the 1967 Hammer Films version. Disciples of the work of Nigel Kneale (the creator and writer of the Professor Bernard Quatermass stories) would argue that the original BBC serial, broadcast in six parts between December 1958 and January 1959 is the definitive version. I have seen that original once and enjoyed it, just as I enjoyed the first two stories in the original trilogy, first broadcast in 1953 and 1955, but it’s the Hammer film that remains my favourite.

The Scottish actor Andrew Keir plays Quatermass here. He had appeared the previous year in the famous Hammer film ‘Dracula: Prince Of Darkness’. Barbara Shelley also appears in both films.

The story is well known. Fragments and bones and skulls belonging to prehistoric man are found when a new tunnel is being dug at ‘Hobb’s End’ underground station. An unidentified object is then excavated. At first it is assumed to be an unexploded German bomb, but that possibility is soon discounted and strange things begin to happen.

The film uses folklore about goblin-like creatures, witchcraft and Satanism to tell a story about an attempt by an alien life form to colonise the Earth in prehistoric times. Keir is on top form and the film greatly benefits from Nigel Kneale’s intelligent screenplay.

On 2 April 2005 BBC4 broadcast a live remake of the original Quatermass story, ‘The Quatermass Experiment’. Jason Flemyng played the lead role and David Tennant (the tenth ‘Doctor’ in ‘Doctor Who’) was among the cast.


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