Quatermass And The Pit

Quatermass And The Pit

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Optimum Home Entertainment

Release date: October 10th, 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 98 minutes

Year of production: 1967

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Nigel Kneale

Cast: Andrew Keir, James Donald, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

It’s hard to believe I got by all these years without having seen this Hammer classic, Quatermass and the Pit.

Given its controversial angle, that the Earth has been visited by alien beings as far back as millions of years ago and have therefore influenced life on this planet, it’s a film that ought to have been as prominent as say Forbidden Planet (1956), War of the Worlds (1953) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Quatermass And The Pit

Based on the BBC television plays by Nigel Kneale, its story begins, of all places, on the London Underground. Deep in the walls of the fictional station, Hobb’s End, prehistoric skulls are discovered and while Palaeontologist Dr Matthew Roney (James Donald) and his assistant, Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley), investigate, Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) and the military attempt to take over the scene as there could be unexploded bombs.

However, Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) believes there’s a much bigger mystery to unravel here and that’s confirmed when they unearth an alien spaceship. Breen is violently opposed to any ideas that challenge what he knows and tries his best to block any attempts at further investigation. Despite the evidence, he firmly believes the ship is a piece of Nazi propaganda designed with the intention to create fear and panic.


  • Interviews
  • Audio commentary with Nigel Kneale and Roy Ward Baker
  • World of Hammer – Sci-Fi Episode
  • UK and US trailers

Try as he might, we suspect he knows that deep down there’s truth in Quatermass’ theories that these visitors have not only been coming here for a long time, but have studied us and altered human evolution to its present state. When the government decide to unveil the “missile” to the press and the general public, Quatermass tries to warn them that it’s tantamount to disaster. He is of course 100% right.

Julian Glover is absolutely brilliant in this role as the army man who just refuses to see reason until it’s too late. His arrogance and air of authority always arrives before he does, yet he’s not the kind of character we hope will get their comeuppance, instead I found myself feeling very sorry for Breen. He just can’t help being stupid.

Quatermass And The Pit

As the mythology of Quatermass and the Pit unravels itself, it’s a story that might make even David Icke and his fanbase smile as it posits the idea of an insect-like race having dominion.

Though the effects and the sets naturally look quite dated now in comparison to today’s standards, the story holds up remarkably well and so too do the performances, although there’s much to be said for the scene where drill operator Sladden (Duncan Lamont) is overcome by a force emitting from the spaceship. It’s the one moment in the film that verges on absurdity as Lamont whimsically dashes from place to the next, wreaking havoc as he goes.

As the third part in a trilogy, The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (1957), Quatermass and the Pit delivers a story that’s intriguing and a cast of characters to help move it along in a way that kept me guessing what’s going to happen next. It rightly deserves a place next to the films I named at the start and it definitely gives me something else to think about while waiting around on the London Underground.

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