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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
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