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Quatermass and the Pit

UK 1958
produced by
Rudolph Cartier for BBC
directed by Rudolph Cartier
starring André Morell, Cec Linder, Anthony Bushell, John Stratton, Christine Finn, Brian Worth, Richard Shaw, Alexander Moyes, Arthur Hewlett, Michael Bird, Robert Perceval, Richard Dare, Nan Braunton, Ian Ainsley, Michael Ripper, Harold Goodwin, John Walker, Victor Platt, Howell Davies, Hilda Barry, Madge Brindley, Keith Banks, Frank Crane, Noel Howlett, Kenneth Seeger, Budd Knapp, Van Boolen, visual effects by Jack Kline, Bernard Wilkie
written by Nigel Kneale

tv-miniseries
Quatermass, BBC's Quatermass

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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At a construction site, workers discover ancient skeletons, & soon enough anthropologist Dr Roney (Cec Linder) dates them back to 5 million years BC ... but even more remarkable is the incredibly large cranium of the skeleton. Soon he starts a dig, & to advertise his endeavor, he shoots off some pretty wild (but logical) ideas at a press conference, which almost has the reverse effect & has some officials wanting to close down the dig altogether.

The only man who seems to support Roney is rocket scientist Professor Quatermass (André Morrel), but he ahs enough problems of his own, since his rocket research department is to be integrated into the Royal Army, much to his dismay, as he doesn't want to have a part in developing weapons ... but what can he do.

It even gets worse though, Quatermass gets a second head for his department, Colonel Breen (Anthony Bushell), a typically narrow-minded military man.

... but when some kind of giant projetile, initially thought to be an unexploded German bomb, is found at Roney's dig, things suddenly look different. The military soon takes over, & since the rocket research department is now part of the military, Quatermass doesn't find it too difficult to persuade Breen to take responsibility of the projectile ...

Soon the projectile is dug up & turns out to be a sort of spaceship, which was found under the 5 million year old skeletons (which says something about its age), plus soon Quatermass & Roney can establish a vague connection to a house allegedly haunted by poltergeists in the neighbourhood. Later even a sealed off compartment in the ship can be opened ... & Quatermass & Roney find man sized 3-legged insects (dead of course), & soon several people near the projectile, including Roney's assistant Barbara Judd (Christine Finn) & Sladden (Richard Shaw), a contractee hired to drill a hole into the thing, start seeing things of a distant past, when some insects like those in the projectile slaughtered each other. & all who have these visions start to panic.

Quatermass & Roney soon come up with a theory, that the projectile actually came from Mars in ancient times, & the insects were Martians out ot conquer the world, with the (humanoid) skeletons the result of some genetic experiments they were conducting. & something has now triggered the weapon they wanted to conquer the world with, 5 million years late, a device to cause panic & weird thelepathic effects in humans.

When Quatermass presents his theories to the minister though, narrow-minded Breen calls them poppicock & sticks to the original idea that it is a German bomb, & the insects were just faked by German war propaganda - even if none of the evidence suggests this anymore.

Soon, Breen even holds a press conference, with life television, right in fron t of the projectile ... when it develops to full force & causes mass panic all throughout London, with only a few, including Roney, immune to the Martian weapon, & he is able to bring Quatermass back to reason.

In the end, an image of the devil himself emanates from the projectile, when Roney has the decisive idea, that makes sense on a technical level as well as concerning demon-hunting: The being it seems can only be killed by a combination of steel & water (to redirect its energy). And indeed, in the end, the projectile is reduced to cinder, & London & the world are saved.

 

This third Quatermass-TV-serial is arguably also the best: The plot is tight & crisp, & even though it might sound silly, it is told in an intelligent way & very much to the point, mixing science (fiction) & superstition in an almost ingenious & wuite fascinating way. & André Morell certainly makes a good Quatermass, even if his ruthlessness is quite toned down compared to his predecessors.

It did take Hammer, who had sonciderable successes with the feature film versions The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) & Quatermass II (1957) of the first two serials, 9 years to turn this one into a film, which concentrates more on the horror aspects of the story (click here).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD