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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
... 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
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
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