Quatermass And The Pit
| 97 MINS | COLOUR | HAMMER |
Workers excavating a site at the London underground uncover a strange skull. Mathew Roney, an archaeologist, is notified about the find and comes to the site to examine it. He believes that it represents the fossilised remains of our distant ape ancestors, and this he relates to a contingent of gathered journalists. He tells them that it could significantly alter our understanding of human evolution.
Further digging uncovers what appears to be an unexploded World War II bomb.
Colonel Breen, from the Ministry of Defence, and Professor Bernard Quatermass are summoned to see the object. Colonel Breen is convinced the object is simply a German bomb, but when an intact ape skull is found inside the vessel, Quatermass concludes that the truth may lie elsewhere.
Barbara Judd, one of Mathew Roney’s colleagues, unearths evidence that the area surrounding the excavation site has had a bizzare history of ghostly sightings. Investigating with Quatermass, they both suspect that those sightings are somehow connected with the discovery of the object in the pit.
When the interior of the object is exposed after drilling, some strange dead locust creatures are found.
Quatermass proposes the theory that these creatures are from a long-dead planet – probably Mars. He supposes that when they knew they were dying they tried to colonise the Earth, but the Earth’s atmosphere was too hostile for them. So instead they tried to colonise the Earth by proxy, enhancing primitive mens’ brains to become masters of the planet.
After Quatermass leaks his idea to the press it causes an uproar. He is summoned by his supervisor to explain himself. Colonel Breen scoffs at Quatermass’s idea and puts forward his own proposal, namely that the object in the pit is simply a propaganda tool sent by the Germans to cause widespread panic.
When Quatermass’s idea is dismissed as outlandish, colonel Breen’s explanation seems even less likely as the object begins to exert a strange influence on people in its vicinity.
The minister decides to present Colonel Breen’s theory to the press – disaster strikes. The alien object draws power from the broadcasting equipment. Colonel Breen is killed by it, and other people affected by it go on a rampage on the streets.
Quatermass falls under alien control as well, but Roney snaps him out of it as he is unaffected. They both realise that a small portion of the population are immune. The psychic energy becomes stronger, ripping up streets and buildings, and the shimmering image of a Martian towers over the city, centred on Hobbs End.
Roney theorises that the alien energy could be discharged into the earth. He climbs to the top of a crane and swings it into the spectre. The crane bursts into flames as it discharges the energy, killing Roney. The image disappears. Quatermass and Barbara Judd sit, dazed and bewildered, in the rubble of Hobbs End.
Britishhorrorfilms: This film’s strengths lie in the slow build-up to the boffo climax.
Britmovie: The film is strong on atmosphere and local detail. Only the malevolent little monsters strike a false chord – seen on a fuzzy television monitor they look suspiciously like cartoon characters.
Minister of Defence: You realise what you’re implying? That we owe our human condition here to the intervention of insects?
- Directed by Roy Ward Baker
- Produced by Anthony Nelson Keys
- Music by Tristram Carey
- Cinematography Arthur Grant
- Production company Hammer Film Productions
- Quatermass and the Pit (1967) was released under the title Five Million Years to Earth in the US.