Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

aka Five Million Years to Earth
Article 3214 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-6-2010
Posting Date: 6-2-2010
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Featuring James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley
Country: UK
What it is: Ambitions science fiction epic

A subway tunnel dig unearths the skeletons of prehistoric men, followed by a strange object that is initially thought to be a bomb. However, upon examination, it turns out to be much more ominous…

This was Hammer’s adaptation of the third of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass teleplays, possibly one of the most ambitious stories ever in terms of its scope, as it deals with life and culture on other planets, the rise of life on this one, and the root of our cultural nightmares of demons and devils. If there’s any problem with trying to adapt this into a movie, it may be that the story is a bit too complex to be encompassed in its running time; though you can follow the story, you do sense that much has been left unexplained that was given more time in the TV version of the story. Still, it’s a fascinating watch, and the performances from all are excellent, with Andrew Keir taking top honors as Professor Bernard Quatermass. I’ve not seen the fourth Quatermass story, but it’s highly doubtful that it could be any more ambitious than this one is. Despite a few minor flaws, this is certainly one of Hammer’s finest moments.


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