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Quatermass and the Pit
Das Grüne Blut der Dämonen

UK 1967
produced by
Anthony Nelson-Keys for Hammer, Seven Arts
directed by Roy Ward Baker
starring Andrew Keir, James Donald, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover, Duncan Lamont, Bryan Marshall, Edwin Richfield, Grant Taylor, Maurice Good, Robert Morris, Sheila Staefel
written by Nigel Kneale, based on his BBC-serial, music by Tristram Cary, cinematography by Arthur Grant

Quatermass, Hammer's Quatermass

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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During work on a new subway tunnle, some ancient skeletons are found by construction workers, & soon enough anthropologist Dr Roney (James Donald) is called in to make excavations, and indeed, he finds more & more skeletons (6 in all) & dates them back to 5 million years BC. He also has some wild theories of what they must have looked like, too wild for gouvernment officials, so they alomost want to close down the excavations again & continue building the subway ... until something looking like a giant projectile is found ...

This calls the rocket research department to the site, co-headed by the eminent professor Quatermaqss (Andrew Keir), & Colonel Breen (Julian Glover), a typical narrow-minded army official who would eventually prove to be Quatermass' biggest nemesis. & while Colonel Breen jumps to the most obvious conclusion, that the projectile is an unexploded German bomb - a conclusion that leaves a million questins too many open -, Quatermass & Roney do a little research of their own. Soon they dig up the history of the building directly above the tunnle, a notorious haunted house, which somehow corresponds with the visions of ghosts (or something) many (but not all) people are having when near the projectile, which scares the heebigeebies out of them - especially construction worker Sladden (Duncan Lamont).

When one sealed off department of the projectile is opened & reveals (dead) man-sized insects, this should finally put an end to Breen's theory about a German bomb. But even when Quatermas elaborates on that & claims the projectila to be a Martian spaceship that was supposed to conquer earth & defeat the earthlings by producing fear, Breen insists on his theory, & even has the gouvernment officials - always aftraid of something new & unpopular - on his side. He even goes so far as to opening the site of the projectile to the press ...

This is of course when everything goes wrong, somehow the projectile is powered up by an electric discharge caused by a camera team, & suddenly produces a panic throughout all of London, & it telepathically uses especially feeble minded people (Breen among them) as its fighters out to kill all less- or non-affected people.

Thank god Roney is among those not affected, & he can get Quatermass out of his panic - just in time too, since London seems to be crumbling in, & the projectile produces a giant image of the horned devil - which is when Roney has the decisive idea - the projectile can only be drained of its power by using a metal conductor to discharge its electric energy into the ground ... & so he uses a giant crane (metal) - that has the form of a cross - to fight this electric being in form of the devil.

Doing so, Roney is killed, but the electricity goes off into the ground & London - & the world - is saved.

 

It took Hammer 9 years to turn the BBC's Quatermass and the Pit into a feature film, & it's quite obvious that much has happened between the first 2 Quatermass films & this. While The Quatermass Xperiment from 1955 & Quatermass 2 from 1957 were both rather hard-edged science fiction stories from a young studio that had yet to find its direction, the 1967-film emphasized on the horror aspects of the BBC-serial, as by now Hammer was the prime British producer of horror films. (In all fairness though, the tv-version did also feature more horror-elements than its predecessors.)

In all, Quatermass and the Pit is a good sci-fi-horror film with a plot that might sound a little silly but is very well told, & that does feature some quite nice miniature effects of the destruction of London at the end, but somehow the film misses the complexity of tv's Quatermass and the Pit, easily the best of BBC's Quatermass-bunch.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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