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  • Quatermass and the Pit is a truly remarkable piece of television. An excellent script, brilliant atmospheric direction and great performances from the cast. Anthony Bushell's Colonel Breen is an utterly unlikable character without being a clichéd hissable villain figure. The guy is so uptight you can almost feel his buttocks clenching! Cec Linder is a very likable character and his friendship with Quatermass is totally believable. As for Quatermass himself... whilst Brian Donlevy played a totally different character (let's be honest the character in the first two Hammer movies is Quatermass in name only, or should that be'Quittermuss'?) John Robinon was really good in the role, Reginald Tate, Andrew Keir and John Mills were all excellent but Andre Morell makes the role his own and completely outshines all the other very fine actors who played this part. He's a charismatic figure full of charm, authority and compassion (if I was a scientist I'd like to be this guy!). Morell is totally convincing in all aspects of the role, whether arguing with pompous ministers or fighting the Martian influence he carries the whole thing along with considerable style. Rudolph Cartier creates a truly chilling atmosphere, complimented by the sinister incidental music. The design is also magnificent. The Martians were an inspired design and Hammer's version of the creatures ten years later are very poor in comparison. A brilliant piece of television science fiction, rarely (if at all) equalled in nearly fifty years!
  • A remarkable 6-part television "mini-series" from the 1950s, this programme is an object lesson in how much can be achieved with comparatively little. By modern standards the special effects are almost non-existent, the camera work is poor and often badly focussed, the continuity between episodes is occasionally bad, the acting is a little sloppy, etc. However none of these mere technical problems matter because they are all forgotten as the viewer is swept away by the intelligence, ingenuity and originality of the plot, which becomes totally involving. The shadowy black-and-white scenes and the excellent (often electronic) soundtrack create a brooding and tense atmosphere which is just right. At 3 hours in length (with an intermission break in the middle) this makes a perfect night's viewing for science fiction fans who can appreciate a good story well told.

    Quatermass and the Pit was remade 9 years later and although it is a much leaner, faster film (at only 90 minutes in length) it also has much to offer. See both and enjoy both.
  • The line above, uttered by Professor Bernard Quatermass in the abandoned and derelict building in Hob's Lane, Knightsbridge, remains one of the most chilling moments of dialog ever uttered on either the television or theatrical screen. I was twelve at the time and came as close to wetting my pants that night as I have since. (with the possible exception of the day I received a letter postmarked R.A.A.C. telling me I had been conscripted into the Australian Army in 1967 - THINK about it!)

    So far ahead of its time QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, Nigel Kneale's third installment in the Quatermass series, was a brilliant pot-pourri of horror, sci-fi, mysticism, the occult and just plain scripted genius. It was estimated that more than 3/4 of Britain were tuned-in to the 6th and final episode - the rest we presume, didn't have television!

    Distinguised British actor Andre Morell WAS the perfect Quatermass, Senior Government scientist and head of Rocket Research, assigned to an investigation of the presumed 'unexploded bomb' unearthed during a routine archaeological 'dig' at Knightsbridge, subsequent upon the discovery of a human skull during building excavation there. Following the unearthing of the object virtually unmarked, yet located BELOW the skull, since carbon-dated as being at least five million years old, extreme paranormal occurrences are recorded which in 1958 were simply terrifying. Their power can still be seen even in the creaky and grainy old B & W video re-edit that was released some years ago and which I regularly watch, probably as much to re-capture my youth as to be thrilled once again.

    This was a cerebral trip, Neve Campbell really wouldn't have slotted in here! It was a DIFFERENT fear back then...cabalistic markings, disturbing sounds, ghosts and demons you couldn't see, but KNEW were there (that awesome utterance in the summary!) and the biggest fright of all - the dead martian as it rustled and slipped through that web of decaying strands that had held it in place all those centuries! The big-screen color re-make FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH was OK but lost all the POWER of the TV original and remains a pale imitation.

    To have been able to watch this epic piece of film-making AT THE TIME was a great privilege, I don't think today's audience are going to feel quite the same about Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees in 2046. (although I HAVE to say, I rather LIKE these guys...they're almost family now!)
  • The Hammer version of this BBC teleplay used to scare the sh*t out of me as a child . The BBC broadcast episode 3 as part of a 50th celebration for the corporation in November 1986 and I was very impressed but also rather sad that the rest of the series wasn't shown . Jump forward to May 1988 and I was flicking through The Radio Times ( the BBC's TV guide ) and there was a page advertising the latest video releases from the BBC with the teleplay of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT being one of them . This astounded me because I thought the beeb would have released it in a blaze of publicity , we are talking about a television legend that used to empty the streets when broadcast in the 1950s so what was it doing being released along with a bunch of anonymous series on video ? I sent off for the video and bit my fingernails waiting for it to arrive . You know when you're a child you look forward to Xmas ? Well that was me as a 21 year old adult in the spring of 1988 ( The most bitter sweet year of my life but that's another story ) I only hoped I wasn't going to be disappointed with this television masterpiece

    After seeing it I wasn't disappointed at all , it was every bit as good as I possibly expected and more . Nigel Kneale has written the most thought provoking science fiction drama in the history of television . Unlike his previous teleplay QUATERMASS 2 there's no episodic quality to the serial , there's no over ambitious set pieces . He has written a beautifully paced script with a mind blowing subtext on human nature . Look at the scene in the middle of the first episode where a radio broadcast tells of violence around the world and this is forgotten about until it ties in with the final scene where Quatermass addresses the nation on the original sin of humanity . It's amazing that Kneale included this because no one watching QUATERMASS AND THE PIT at home in 1958 could have remembered this apparently throwaway line but it's important to the subtext of the story . Mr Kneale you are a genius

    I said this was a science fiction drama but maybe I should state that it's a drama first and foremost . Like all of the Quatermass serials there's little in the way of pitched battles between soldiers and bulletproof aliens all so common in 1950 sci-fi movies . There's little action but watching the character interaction between Quatermass and Roney on one side and Col Breen and the war office on the other is a joy to watch . Nigel Kneale has a reputation for writing good dialogue in all of his teleplays and he exceeds himself here . Some classic lines include:

    " And then , and then you can't see this world anymore "

    " A blind man with a dog "

    And my own personal favourite line: " Mister Fullalove , a day or two ago you were enquiring into the activities of ghosts and demons . Did you get their opinion too ? "

    That last line was spoken by Col Breen my all time favourite character from the QUATERMASS serials and his character interaction with Quatermass seems to have been resurrected in an inverted manner in early 70s DOCTOR WHO . It should be remembered that because of the war and national service much of the audience would have been able to relate to the character far more than today's audience ever could

    Some people watching this for the first time might possibly be disappointed by it especially if they've seen the Hammer version . Yes I do concede that the original is less spectacular but once again it's not intended as a Hollywood blockbuster and the film version is inferior over all . The acting and characterisation is superior here with Captain Potter being a major figure unlike in the film with James Fullalove being absent in the cinema version and Col Breen is certainly more memorable here . I did notice that Anthony Bushell ( Who always forever cast as army officers - Check out his resume ) goes OTT in one scene namely when he reads the newspaper headline but he is superb as a narrow minded Breen . It can be argued that Cec Linder might have been taking too much coffee when playing Doctor Roney but perhaps his character is supposed to be slightly hyperactive and for me Andre Morrell is the definitive Bernard Quatermass . The only performance in the movie that surpasses that of their TV counter part character is probably Barbara Shelley as Miss Judd

    This is a masterwork from both Rudolph Cartier and Nigel Kneale . As soon as Quatermass finishes his television broadcast he walks off camera , the stirring music ends and so ends the greatest drama under the banner of telefantasy . Other sci-fi dramas have tried to emulate the dramatic realism of this , the very best of the QUATERMASS saga but only a few like DOOMWATCH and the very best stories of DOCTOR WHO have come close . None have surpassed it
  • I envy anybody who was lucky enough to watch this one the first time around! Seeing the re-released video version today I can imagine what a mind-blower this must have nearly 45 years ago. An amazing technical achievement for the time, while the movie remake had a bigger budget and was in colour, it's debatable whether it actually bettered this original TV version. A plot that mixes science fiction and the occult in a way reminiscent of some of H.P. Lovecraft's later stories, added to inventive (low budget) direction, and generally strong acting, especially from Andre Morell (possibly the best Quatermass of them all), this is a must see for any genuine SF fan. Nigel Kneale deserves a place in the history of fantastic television and cinema, and this is one of his best efforts.
  • Long before watching this, I had seen the Hammer film version and had enjoyed it a great deal as I found it to be quite thoughtful and intelligent while also being creepy and a bit unnerving. Sitting to complete the DVD box-set by watching the third series over a few nights, I was surprised to find just how strong it was and how very well it has stood up to the effects of time. The main reason for this is the plotting and the delivery thereof. The story sees the gradual discovery of something in the earth below London – at first the missing link, then an unexploded bomb and then something much odder indeed. Within a few hours this story has taken us from a group of builders unearthing a skull, through to the brink of man's destruction – a journey that manages to be convincing, engaging and thrilling, even though it is a 1950's BBC TV drama driven mostly by people talking in front of a big plastic pipe sticking out of the ground. I don't mean to sound like a heretic in front of sci-fi fans, but this is sort of what this series is. But yet it works incredibly well.

    The story builds excellently. The dialogue isn't clunky and actually draws you in with its precision and thoughtful discussions of what is going on – an approach that makes the dramatic moments all the more dramatic by virtue of contrast. What really drives it though are the ideas and it is here that I almost wish I had the ability to see it as someone watching on television when it was first broadcast. Thanks to the mainstream success of sci-fi horror films down the years and shows like X-files, the idea of an alien presence being on Earth before humans and shaping and guiding life is not shockingly new – nor does any religious group get particularly offended when a sci-fi suggests a plot of that nature, however this Quatermass and the Pit was made in the late 50's and it was a very different world then.

    I particularly wonder how the effects went down because watching with my cynical "seen it all" eye from the comfort of 2012, I was still genuinely unnerved by the excellent sense of foreboding creeping across the film and a little scared by the images and events of the final few episodes (the wild hunt sticking in my mind the most). When older fans speak about their memories of hiding behind the sofa, I can believe it because this is pretty strong stuff in regards the ideas. OK, we don't see a lot of what we "know" is happening, but because the story, place and characters have all been build so well by dialogue and atmosphere, the viewer is bought into it and it is a small ask to do the work that the cameras cannot. That said I was still impressed by the effects – indeed so impressed that I yet again had to turn to Google just to confirm that this show was mostly broadcast live. The standard of acting and seamless transitions between scenes is impressive enough in this regard but the more dramatic action towards the end is all the more impressive for being done once in front of cameras.

    The cast are very good throughout. It took me a minute to get used to yet another actor playing Quatermass (and playing him as a different type of character again) but within one episode I was loving Morell. He doesn't cling too much to the scientific professor and he allows his love of the unknown to show, thus allowing other emotions to come later on. Linder is not quite as good but still works – I think him having an American accent put me off a little but otherwise he was OK. Bushell is good with his one-note character but Finn impressed me the most. In Quatermass II we had a supporting actress who looked like she was in a finishing school parade, but here Finn really lets herself go and her terror and her reactions later are unnerving for just how real she makes they seem. Some very small roles are a bit wooden here, but otherwise everyone is very good – and again, remember this was all done live for the camera.

    Quatermass and the Pit was hyped to me, fellow reviewer Theo Robertson would frequently comment on any sci-fi I said was good with "ah yes but you've not seen Quatermass and the Pit", so I did have it in my mind that I should expect something good. Although this preconception normally hurts the reality, here it did no such thing as even though I expected it to be good, I was still surprised by how good it was. A strong script delivers a story brimming with influential ideas and commentary in a technically impressive live delivery. I said I had planned to watch this series over a couple of nights? Never made it – too compulsive to stop, it was gone in one evening.
  • I first watched this when it was first broadcast during the autumn/winter 1958/1959 and it had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I bought the video a few years ago and even though the editing spoiled the end of episode cliffhangers it is still worth seeing. This was BBC Drama at its best. Made on a low-budget, it was wonderfully produced and acted. Who could ever forget those special moments: The Corporal who saw a ghost walk through the wall; the opening of the missile revealing three long dead Martians; and the drill operator running through the streets of London as if was being pursued by real Martians; and the final scenes of the Devil hovering above a ruined London. A classic indeed.
  • trimmerb123421 November 2006
    "Sladden"!- nearly 50 years later few it seems have forgotten, (who could forget) the name, and the scene where, terrified-possessed, seeking sanctuary in a church, he collapses - and the gravel underneath him, moved by some evil telekinesis, churns in waves? Like others, childhood walks home at night following the screening became panic-stricken runs. I was never able to fully watch the final episode - one glimpse of that incandescent THING hovering in mid-air proved much too much (I think they cut it from the VHS version).

    Watching it now, the programme has in some ways gained rather than lost in power. The implication of the sequence and ages of the discoveries in the pit makes the room seem suddenly colder, kicking off a roller coaster of rising hysteria. The struggles of Quatermass: brilliant, strong minded, humane, brave; against demonic possession bordered on the harrowing. What a fine performance by Andre Morelle. Breen - wonderfully cast - and played. Anthony Bushell's voice always was high and rather edgy. For the first time this quality was fully exploited as the unimaginative military man fought a losing battle against things beyond his imagination. I once met him by chance in 1985 in a bus queue in Oxford and asked about Quatermass. He was, rather disappointingly, amiable and civil.

    The music, the sound effects - just perfect.

    Many special effects - amazingly for '50's live TV - would not disappoint today - the whipping heavy cables, the air completely filled with debris in motion, as if every inanimate object had itself become possessed. The CREATURES - so creepy and repellent - how could anybody stay alone in a laboratory with one of them propped up on a tray? And who failed to jump violently when one just slightly but suddenly moved?

    Now I notice the slight pauses at scene changes and the long scenes in very small sets - while the main set was being prepared for the next scene. A distraction? No, a chance steady the nerves! Whatever happened to the vessel? Does it still exist? If it does, which of us could casually walk inside?

    Quatermass and the Pit excelled in nearly every aspect where other productions might just score OK in most and good in one or two. In terms of the impact it made it can only come second to Orson Welle's 1938 radio production of "War of the Worlds" where the listening public really believed that the Earth was being invaded. That though was mainly achieved by sleight of hand. Quatermass and the Pit convinced through compelling logical story development, fine acting and brilliant production.
  • There is a saying I am rather fond of about going out at your best. Over six weeks in late 1958 and early 1959 the BBC brought its involvement in the Quatermass stories to a close. In doing so they lived up to that saying by producing what remains one of the most imaginative and brilliantly crafted pieces of science fiction to ever be put on a screen either big or small.

    For starters there is of course the excellent cast. As the third actor to play the role of Professor Bernard Quatermass for the BBC (and the fourth if you count Brian Donlevy in the first two Hammer Quatermass films made prior to this being aired) André Morell gives what might very well be the definitive Quatermass. From the moment he appears Morell takes on the role and makes it his own with his excellent line delivery and very human reactions to the situations around him. Morell's Quatermass is more convincing then his predecessor as both scientist and as a man frightened by what he finds and is all the better for it. Yet Morell's Quatermass is just the first of what can be termed a trio of leading characters.

    The other two characters in that trio are Cec Linder as Dr. Matthew Roney and Anthony Bushell as Colonel James Breen. Linder plays Roney as a man fascinated by his discoveries and willing to the consequences of them no matter the cost. Linder and Moreell also have some fantastic chemistry together that makes the friendship between Quatermass and Roney seem even more realistic. Bushell as Breen on the other hand is just the opposite: a man almost primitive in his thinking to the point of ignoring the facts. If Roney is Quatermass's friend then Breen is his enemy and the man most responsible for the serial's shocking finale. Bushell gives a fine, if not over the top at times, performance as the army officer forced into a sequence of events he can not understand nor wants to.

    The rest of the cast is fine as well. From John Stratton as the leader of the bomb disposal squad to Christine Finn as Roney's assistant to Brian Worth as journalist James Fullalove to Richard Shaw as Sladden and Robert Perceval as the Minsiter of Defense amongst many there isn't a role miscast in the entire six episode production. The production proves that it isn't just the leading roles that count but the small ones as well.

    For all the excellent members of the cast it is as much the aspects of the serial behind the camera that make Quatermass And The Pit as imaginative and brilliantly crafted as it is. Despite being a live TV production Quatermass And The Pit as the feel of being a feature film of the time. This is especially true of both the music and especially of the special effects. The haunting score of Trevor Duncan remains a fantastic example of how a simple score can be made highly effective. The special effects done by Bernard Wilkie and Jack Kine remain as impressive to this viewer today as they must have been for audiences fifty years ago including the sequence at the end of part four and of course the insect like Martians.

    Then there is the script at the heart of it all. A decade or so before Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke brought it to the mainstream in 2001: A Space Odessy, writer Nigel Kneale asked the fascinating (and to some terrifying) question "what if what makes us human isn't human at all?" and terrifyingly answered it. Kneale looks at human nature and in particular racism and the occult in a science fiction context and shows us the consequences of racism in a way that is too realistic to be ignored. Kneale uses the limitations of live TV (i.e. a story driven by dialog mainly) to create a script full of fine dialouge and debates on everything from the nature of racism to the military takeover of otherwise peaceful scientific research. In particular there are two speeches by Quatermass (one at the Ministry in episode four and the other at the end of episode six) that stand out as amongst the best pieces of science fiction writing ever.

    In short Quatermass And The Pit is television science fiction at its best. It is a production full of fine performances, good effects, fine music and a brilliant script. It might be fifty years old, in black and white and rather filled with dialouge but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way for that makes Quatermass And The Pit brilliant fifty years on.
  • I've only found this site today, and it's tremendous to know that so many commentators felt about the BBC 1958 original in exactly the same way that I did. (I was far too young to watch it - only ten! - and spent most of the episodes peering out from behind the armchair...) I read recently that the classic scary moment when one of the disinterred Martians suddenly falls through its supports was actually a repeat of an accident that took place in rehearsal, and which the special effects people kept in the final version. I would personally highlight the title and incidental music, by Trevor Duncan (who was also the composer of the "Dr Finlay" theme music), which seems to me to be the final vital ingredient in creating the chilling atmosphere we all experienced. It's marvellous news that BBC Worldwide are going to release a DVD set of all the surviving episodes of all three BBC Quatermass serials in April 2005. If I can only dare to watch them!
  • I had always considered the third - and most ambitious - Quatermass film (made in 1967) as a masterpiece; if anything, the original serial is even better as the accumulation of detail (Kneale's decidedly cerebral script taking in an archaeological expedition overrun by the military, paranormal manifestations going hand in hand with a secret alien invasion, a startling revelation concerning Homo Sapiens, riots provoked by the sudden appearance of an energy-consuming demon, and ending with a plea for tolerance!) is more smoothly distributed - and, consequently, better digested - over the period of 3½ hours rather than a film little more than 90 minutes in length!!

    Casting is very strong and about the best of all three serials, with Andre' Morell (standing in for the recently deceased John Robinson) emerging as the finest Quatermass ever; Michael Ripper - the actor with more Hammer Films credits to his name (though not, curiously enough, their version of this serial!) - is featured in a supporting role. The film - among the top two or three ever turned out by Hammer - obviously substituted color for black-and-white (arriving 10 years after the last Quatermass picture with a new director and lead actor); an inspired touch, however, was its resetting the excavation site where the alien spacecraft is discovered to a branch of the London Underground and, besides, this time around they could afford to show the demon and its subsequent destruction!

    Of course, having watched the Hammer films numerous times prior to going through the serials themselves, the narratives hold no real surprises - but, then, because Kneale's concepts are so fascinating and even persuasive, they keep one riveted (and, despite their considerable length, don't make one restless to get to the 'goodies', so to speak). Again, the opening credits and the score set the tone wonderfully for what's to come - and, contrary to the monster of "The Quatermass Experiment" (which the BBC hated so much that the final episode of that first serial was deleted immediately!), some care was evidently allowed here to the preparation of the Martian creatures so vital to the program!!

    Unfortunately, I experienced freezing around the 147-minute mark during playback of this particular disc - but, by fast-forwarding and rewinding a bit, I managed to make it through the effected part regardless...
  • ganner1 June 2002
    Oh boy, do I remember this one ! I can only agree with all the reviewers' comments so far. I was 10 at the time, and our TV had broken down, so I went to watch it a couple of streets away. This was the episode that ended with Sladdon running to the churchyard and the gravel path starts rippling . . . . I have never run so fast as I ran home that evening ! Wonderful plot - it can still make the hairs on my neck stand up just recalling it all.
  • Long before mankind set a foot on the Moon, science was questioning the possibility of life in space. When the first rockets are launched by USSR, people have begun talking about different scenarios, utopias, jokes and ultimately ideas. Hence science-fiction gained a wide angle of view: After robots, now ALIENS. The Czechoslovakian pioneer production "R.U.R(1938)" is a first step of this post-war transitional period trend. The forthcoming year 2011, we'll see a remake of it; hopefully will be recognized.

    Quatermass and the Pit is the second continuation of the original "The Quatermass Experiment(1953)" which was also a BBC TV-series. These series are followed by the groundbreaking feature film "The Creeping Unknown(1955)" which has the most successful visuals and mystery run of all versions. The 1958 series were primarily focusing on make the adult audience and the authorities believe what they see and what they experience. With this version, Quatermass had become a pioneer in sci-fi taking a stand for SEEING IS EXPERIENCING, whereas it used to be only seeing is believing.

    What's to experience is that Space is being introduced as a non-habitable place due to the differentiation of a space engineer after he's rescued from a space rocket crashed into the ground. Saved by an extra-terrestrial power of a plant cell, his physical differentiations followed by endomorphism, allows him to live in a persistent vegetative state. Escaping from the hospital, by time he turns into an octopus-like creeper and terrorizes the public.

    According to an article from Gavin Collinson of BFI(British Film Institute) the writer/creator Nigel Kneale is requested to pen a televisual drama from a one-off sci-fi play. Before Quatermass's exploits had become a national talking point, the fiction part has only been manipulating public's fears of extra-terrestrial menaces by means of the infancy of manned space programmes.

    Quatermass and the Pit allows us to experience the impairments of space travel by a salient work in drama. Alexander Moyer's narration is taking the spirit away a little, but overall it's a well achievement. Prof.Bernard Quatermass character is dedicated to his goals on scientific operations, carrying no hesitation and no fear. That's how a belief becomes an experience. If you look at Isaac Asimov's "The Currents of Space(1952)" and "Breakthroughs in Science(1959)" science and fiction were coming closer to each other. Quatermass brings you to this same level.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For those who have seen only the 1967 Hammer movie adaptation, the original 1958 BBC television serial may come as a surprise. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, with many comic moments amid the spooky drama. Andre Morell is a thoughtful and sophisticated Quatermass, with a wry humor and a low key charm. He's a delight to watch as he battles the rigid and humorless Colonel Breen, and contends with the meddling journalist Fullalove. Brief bits by almost unknown British character actors create unforgettable moments, such as the policeman, who reminisces about he and his childhood pals daring each other to visit the allegedly haunted house near the excavation; the old lady who stubbornly refuses to leave the decaying building, announcing with determination that she and her husband are the rightful occupants, "...and we don't leave for builders, bombs or nothing else!" Cec Linder is amusing as the dedicated paleontologist Dr. Roney, almost stealing the whole show with his excitable, eccentric personality, bubbling over with enthusiasm about the strange discoveries in the pit.

    The sets are very convincing and the music eerily effective in helping to create the mood of mounting suspense. The acting and writing are both uniformly good, with a slightly rough, naturalistic quality that helps to make the outlandish story believable. The skeptical, anti-establishment views of the main characters are somewhat surprising for a story from the Fifties, with a strong anti military theme. The scenes of Quatermass arguing with government officials, about their plans for establishing military bases on Mars and other planets, are gripping and believable, and have lost none of their sense of urgency in fifty years. If anything, the film seems startlingly up to date.

    The effects and the overall look of the film are a bit primitive, but the story is so fascinating that minor details are swept aside by the enthralling drama. This is science fiction at its best, and with a uniquely English feel to it. Highly recommended.
  • Like most of the reviewers here I watched this originally when I was a kid. We got our first TV in 1957, a year before this series aired and I remember being glued to the set, eyes bulging. The images still haunt me to this day, especially the specter of the devil over London. Unfortunately this series has not been released on DVD or tape in North America so I have to rely on my memories. This is classic story telling, the kind of SF I love, based in the present (1958 that is). I do have the '60s film version which I do enjoy, it still creeps me out when the characters are in the abandoned house on Hobs Lane, I refuse to go in to any abandoned building to this day without the hairs on the back of my neck standing up!! Even the word "hob" has evil connotations in its very sound.

    This could easily be remade today, but only if the producer and director treats it seriously. The topics and questions postulated are thought provoking and would be ruined if it just became a special effects event movie. Done with care and with attention to the narrative this could be a major movie on par with 2001.
  • I can still remember my mother reading a description of this drama from the local newspaper. There were references to ghosts, demons and goblins that seemed to be right up a 7-year-old's alley. I begged to be allowed to watch it.

    On a blank screen appeared this simple trailer 'The following program is not considered suitable for people of a nervous disposition' (or something very similar).

    It was a piece of bald BBC understatement. British television had only been going for a few years and this was their first crack at a horror drama. It was experimental. The budget was modest, and I am told it was broadcast live.

    Well, it would be no exaggeration to say that this program changed my life. Its very beginning set the standard. As strident nerve-jangling chords blasted out, dust dribbled from a stone tablet to reveal the title. Within the next 30 minutes, I went from a comparatively normal child, weaned upon 'watch with mother', to one who was terrified of the dark. It ran for 6 episodes and against their better judgement, my parents let me watch them all.

    The scene in which Sladden is left alone in the artifact was particularly memorable. You just knew he was making a mistake. Then came the strange sounds, the disappearing spanner, the hoses and cables roused into life, the teacups and plates that fly at him, and the undulating gravel in the churchyard. It wasn't meant for 1950's kids! My bedroom ceased to be a snug, familiar place, but one of strange shadows and furniture that might easily begin moving without notice. It didn't help that our house was old and prone to creaks. Birds were nesting in the roof-spaces and got into the habit of scuttling across the ceiling.

    Today, I have the abridged 3-hour video. It hasn't aged so well. Spooky moments seem few. Arguments appear excessively melodramatic, the conflict rather contrived. It's just too slow for a full sitting and perhaps should still be seen in half-hour episodes. Something for nostalgia buffs perhaps, but no longer to be taken seriously. Even so, that Quatermass oscillation - which begins with a base note and rises to end in what sounds like a brief animal scream - is still the most bizarre and chilling sound in science fiction.

    Nigel Kneale seems to possess a quite unique insight into the basis of fear. No-one else comes close. With this story he has attempted to produce a 'theory of everything' incorporating folk-law of imps and demons, good and evil, the paranormal, with invaders from another planet. It almost works. A good quality (British) remake wouldn't go amiss. Though it's unlikely to start me looking under the bed again.

    Hard to believe I watched the original on a tiny 12-inch screen though. In my memory it takes up a whole wall.

    As a foot note; the Bowater House site at Knightsbridge is in the process of redevelopment. It contained a deep excavation and I couldn't help looking in. Down in the mud there was a huge grey pipe, or something...
  • Perhaps one of the most brilliant television series ever, Quatermass and the Pit still terrifies. Its narrative combines science, black magic, alien invasions, human experimentation and ancient history, confounding the viewer's expectations and maintaining thrilling suspense throughout. I first saw this on BBC in the 1970s, and was stunned that such an old show could terrify me and hold me in such thrall. Twenty years later, its powers are not diminished. Ten out of ten. Fantastic.
  • The most original science fiction movie ever. I saw the original TV series which still makes a great impression on me and also the film, again a very good example of the science fiction genre. It was probably the one film that set me on the road to watching these types of film and many many years on we have the alien trilogy..carry on for ever I say..I would be grateful for any information about a DVD of this film/tv series. I would love to see how a remake of this film would turn out with modern effects......
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm actually more a fan of horror movies, but besides "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", this is one of the movies that scared me intensely. There's no trace of the Manichaism of latter popular horror movies, it is made perfectly clear that evil lies in the human conscience and doesn't dissolve from some foreign being or "just plain evil". Nigel Kneale, the writer of this story, is a master in combining traditional horror tales with contemporary scientific explanations. The long TV-Version is quite suspenseful and I didn't notice that three hours passed by. In the later remake they let out the bits concerning the spaceship might by a German bomb, which was a reasonable decision.
  • What is it about reading these comments that have made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end after 45 years?? I remember the Quatermass films and particularly the TV series in the late 50's. I had so many sleepless night after watching it on our 12 Inch BW Murphy TV set that I was banned from watching it. Ok I was little, but no other Film/TV prog has EVER affected me so greatly.. I havn't watched any of the Quatermass series for years. But I will have to now
  • Very creepy, very eerie and very old! Over four decades old, in fact; and one is entitled to wonder which of the contemporary TV entertainment will still have the power to entertain and alarm in 2042. "Quatermass and the Pit" features Andre Morrell, surely the best of all Quatermass's, a scientist and humanist, fallible but moral. Though the series was filmed in black and white, and the original cliff-hanging endings edited out, it still maintains a slow build-up of suspense. The long running-time helps this gradual increase, as do the un-nerving electronic sounds indicating the presence of - ah, well, that would be telling! Nigel Kneale combines and "explains" a host of myths, legends, folk-memories and the supernatural with science-fiction themes and does it all very well indeed. I bought this video in 1988 and boy am I glad I did so!
  • I binge watched this, having heard of it, but never having seen any of the series previously. I may be wrong, but I imagine this was made on a show string, it proves that a lot can be made, from very, very little. Sure the production values were a little ropey, and at times the acting is a little flat, but there is something fairly magical about it. The story is incredible, the characters are huge and interesting. It's the originality of the series that makes it so deserving of such a high score, I can imagine kids back in the fifties were terrified. It begs the question, how much did it influence Doctor Who.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Andre Morell gets the well deserved leading role in this first rate original sci-fi/horror story. He is definitely the greatest Quatermass of all, in the best of all the stories. He portrays the Prof. in a suave and sophisticated way but still makes him a caring human with a sense of humour. It's just a shame that the BBC as usual, didn't appreciate what it had, otherwise we might have seen the Prof. battling evil from beyond and within earth during the sixties as well. Only the prophet Kneale seems to be able to weave sci-fi, horror, history, religion and paranoia into rattling good yarns which stand the test of time. Don't look for top notch special effects or macho posturing, just marvel at the clever story, the wonderful dialogue (eat your heart out Russel T Davies) and the marvellous way it is portrayed. There are some superb bits of acting, particularly by the brilliant and much underrated Morell. Great support from Anthony Bushell, Cec Linder and Christine Finn (the voice of Tin-Tin in Thunderbirds). And look out for the harrowing moments, of which there are many, but particularly when the drill operator Sladden, is 'taken over'. Morell handles the speeches with consummate ease particularly at the beginning, where he lectures the 'big brass' about not dragging our human vices into outer space and the final 'We are the Martians now' speech-imagine an American actor trying to tackle that dialogue!
  • Not much here to add to what has been said so well in the previous reviews. Quartermass and the Pit really is that good!

    It is a mini-series that looks absolutely great for the time, its expensive budget evident, and the atmospheric photography, imaginative sets and pretty spectacular special effects still hold up today. The pre-filmed material merges with the live material without jarring at all. The music score has a genuine eeriness and very memorable, unforgettable at its best (like with the main theme). Quartermass and the Pit is so intelligently scripted and beautifully paced, with so many quotes that makes one think and with much to say.

    The story, as well as having some ahead-of-their-time themes, is fascinating and still resonates strongly, even those who considers their knowledge of science sketchy will find much that is interesting and captivating about it. The direction is adept, the characters are very engaging and easy to root for (Quartermass and Breen are particularly well-written) and the acting is more than excellent. Particularly good are Andre Morrell, whose interpretation of the titular character is definitive, Anthony Bushell, who manages to bring depth to a somewhat unsympathetic character instead of being cartoonish or one-dimensional, and Cec Linder's very likable Roney. Can't go wrong with the likes of Michael Ripper either.

    In summary, Quartermass and the Pit really is science fiction television at its finest. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • One of my best loved science fiction stories, in the way it weaves together legend and science to create a story that is believable and complete. As an atheist, believing that all things run according to physical laws, the world can seem cold and uninspiring. If science fiction can offer an hour or three of escapism in which devils, martians, ghosts and aliens can really exist then I really treasure it. This story succeeds admirably, with the plot reaching back to ancient history as well as recent history, making the premise real and relevant. Cleverly, the audience is always ahead of the dry establishment insisting to the end that the discovery is just some super V2, but behind Quatermass in piecing together the awful truth about the hull and its occupants. I have seen the 1967 film and appreciate both versions, but this low resolution version leaves more to the imagination and is therefore all the more powerful.
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