Quatermass and the Pit

Starring: Andrew Keir, James Donald, Barbara Shelley and Julian Glover
Warner Home Video
RRP: 7.99
Certificate: 12
Available 11 October 2004

Professor Quatermass is arguing against his British Rocket Group being effectively taken over for military operations, when a call comes through about strange occurrences at Hobbs End underground station. Work had begun on extension modifications when a number of skulls and other bones were uncovered. Further excavation work revealed the origins to be a link to the earliest prehistoric man. Now what appears to be an unexploded bomb has been found, but Quatermass and his reluctant military allies discover it to be a larger, missile-like capsule, which cannot be penetrated by any substance. Furthermore, it is suspected to date from the same period as the bones. When a section finally falls open of its own accord, it is to display several large but dead locusts. But that isn't the end of the matter. It is suspected Man owes his intelligence and development to these creatures, and there could be a repeat of the catastrophe which killed life on Mars...

This 1967 Hammer Production, based on the story and screenplay by Nigel Kneale, is more of a thinking story than an action one. There's lots of bumping together of official heads, educated theories and just plain speculation.

In fact, there are so many ideas packed into 94 minutes that the film appears to constantly change its style; moving from 1950s-style B-Movie, through The Exorcist or Omen territory, to Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Village of the Damned.

Unfortunately, there's no progression or outlet for these stories. Very little happens in the entire film (though it's well acted); even in the climax when the lead characters run around with British stiff-upper-lips, seemingly unconcerned that a form of ethnic cleansing is about to take place. Pretty amazing coming little more than two decades after the end of the Second World War.

In effect there's no feeling of approaching threat. The movie peters-out rather than reaching any ultimate conclusion, with the end credits appearing over Andrew Keir who suddenly doesn't know what to do with himself.

In conclusion, this Quatermass film is okay for a pit stop (sorry!), but not really worth seeking out.

Ty Power

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