MARCH 31, 2014


Released in the U.S. as FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH, QUARTERMASS AND THE PIT is the third of a series of films made by the UK’s Hammer Films based on the BBC TV Series. Both are adaptations of the books by Nigel Kneale, who also penned the screenplays. 

I loved this film as a youngster and have seen it more times than I can remember. Even though the Special FX are a little dated and the storytelling is a tad clunky, it still holds a fascination for me. 

During the excavation of a London subway, the workers find a number of prehistoric human skulls, this leads to the discovery of a missile-like spaceship buried underground for over 5 Million Years. Inside are long dead, Locust creatures with a demonic look. 

The venerable Dr. Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir) is brought in to investigate and reveals that these creatures are from Mars. Soon physic disturbances erupt within and then around the ship affecting anyone in its presence. The ship is somehow still alive. As the phenomenon continues and expands its reach, it could mean the end of mankind as we know it. 

What makes QUARTERMASS AND THE PIT so effective is that the material is taken seriously. This is a dark film and this gives a certain gravitas to the events. The acting is uniformly descent and directed by Roy Ward Baker, the look of the film is fabulously eerie playing like a horror/sci-fi film. 

The Quatermass series has influenced a great many modern science-fiction filmmakers and is oft sighted as such. A recent example would be Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS which has some direct correlations with especially QUATERMASS AND THE PIT 

I hope if you watch it, you just go with it and forgive the somewhat cheesy visual FX. They’re not badly conceived, it’s just obvious that things are floating on wires or done with miniatures. This shouldn’t distract from a compelling yarn that still holds up after almost 50 years (and maybe 50 million more!)