Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

87% – Critics
73% – Audience

Quatermass and the Pit Storyline

While digging an extension in the London underground, workers come across skeletal remains. Construction is halted and paleontologist Dr. Matthew Roney’s team take over. They soon find a metal object that they initially think might be a bomb but turns out to be an alien spacecraft of some kind. Roney’s assistant Barbara Judd and Professor Bernard Quatermass, a rocket specialist who does experimental work for the Ministry of Defence, discover that much of the housing around the site was abandoned by its inhabitants 40 years ago because of strange noises and what was believed to be ghosts. Inside the spacecraft they find the remnants of insect-like creatures, all now dead. In disturbing the craft however, they release an invisible force of immense power.

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Quatermass and the Pit Movie Reviews

Creepy, interesting, above all else…..intelligent.

Whilst excavating at the site of a new underground tube station, workers unearth a mysterious object. On to the case comes Professor Quatermass who deduces that the object is Martian in origin. Initially viewed with scorn and disbelief, it becomes apparent that the Martian race have been involved in the human race before, and now they have been awoken again.

This was the third Hammer film adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s BBC-TV Quatermass serial, with previous entries being The Quatermass Experiment & Quatermass 2. This to me, tho, is undoubtedly the shining light of the bunch. Chiefly what works the best in this one is the wonderful fusion of mystery and intelligence, the eerie sense of dread only off set by a yearning to find out just what has happened? And more crucially, what will happen? Building up perfectly, courtesy of Roy Ward Baker’s astutely paced direction, Quatermass And The Pit is a film that just begs you to pay attention to every little detail, each conversation is fully fleshing out this most intriguing story. Then there is the finale that pays off handsomely, to hint at what is involved would result in a spoiler of sorts, and really it would be stupid of me to prepare you for the film’s closure.

See it because it’s one of the best genre entries of the 60s, a must for sci-fi enthusiasts that like a bit of brains to go with their genre persuasion. 8.5/10

Wouldn’t it be cool to discover a long-buried UFO? Well….nope.

“Five Million Years to Earth” was a movie version of the British TV series “Quatermass and the Pit”. It seems that the Brits loved their shows about Professor Quatermass, though in the movies starring this character, they seemed to always have different actors playing him. Here, he is played by Andrew Keir and a cast of mostly unknowns for Hammer Studio. The film is interesting and unusual but may be a bit too slow and cerebral for some.

When the film begins, sewer workers in London discover some skeletons while digging. Soon, they find a metallic object buried as well and they assume it’s an unexploded bomb from WWII. However, the object is non-magnetic and once they start digging more, it turns out to be far too large for a bomb. In fact, it’s some sort of ancient space craft—and they soon find dead aliens that look like huge grasshoppers. Weird, huh? Well it gets a lot weirder. Although the ship is truly ancient and the beings who used it long dead, there is some sort of terrific psychic force within it–and it’s capable of killing! The film is certainly unique–and I like the idea of the the plot. I do have a few complaints however. One is that the film, at times, drags a bit and is a bit cerebral for some viewers. While you get to see some cheesy alien creatures, they aren’t seen all that often and it’s a bit anti-climactic. Another is that the ending, to me, seemed a bit silly. What’s this about iron being the metal that can destroy the Devil?! Huh?! Still, an intriguing idea–but not a perfect one, that’s for sure.

A Hammer favourite, the best of the Quartermass films and goes with the still superior TV series remarkably well

Not as good as the masterful TV series, which is sci-fi television at its finest, but it almost is and the best of the Quartermass films. I’d go as far to say that it’s one of Hammer’s better films as well.

Personally, Quartermass and the Pit’s only fault are the rather anti-climactic and too hastily-paced ending and the on-the-cheap-side special effects especially at the end with those fake-looking aliens, the rest of the film’s production values are very well-done so not sure why the quality dips at this point. The colour photography is very good though and doesn’t dissipate the mystery or atmosphere at all, the setting is as spectacularly imaginative as it was in the series and the special effects generally while nowhere near as strong as those in the TV series are generally above average. Tristam Carey’s music score has the right amount of eerie intensity and rousing ambiance, while Roy Ward Baker’s direction is wisely careful but still very strong and Nigel Kneale’s script is very true in style to his writing for the series, retaining the intelligent handling of complex and daring themes, the ability to provoke thought while not trying to do too much or undermining the mystery.

The story is engrossing and continues to fascinate and resonate emotionally translated to screen, again while not making the mistake of covering too many ideas. There’s a lot here and it’s ambitious stuff, but it didn’t feel too much thankfully. The mystery is intriguing, it’s very suspenseful and scary with some memorable and quite shocking deaths (i.e. Roney’s) and the disquieting atmosphere is incredibly effective, helped by beautifully measured pacing, Baker’s direction and that it doesn’t try to hide or exceed any budget limits. The characters are still engaging, and the acting while not quite up to their definitive TV counterparts is still very good and worthy, Andrew Keir and Julian Glover being particularly excellent.

Overall, another Hammer winner and goes with the series very well indeed, if not as good as it. 9/10 Bethany Cox