The fifth and final film in the Picturehouse’s Made in Britain season was Hammer’s Quatermass and the Pit, which was directed by Roy Ward Baker -a director who had an extensive career in both film and television. Anyway, I popped along to Exeter’s Picturehouse for a busy screening of a beautifully restored digital-print.
Workers building an extension at Hobbs End, London Underground, uncover strange skeletons and a mysterious vessel while digging. The army are sure it’s some sort of German weapon from WW2, but Professor Quatermass has an entirely different theory. Quatermass believes that the mysterious vessel isn’t of this earth, that it’s alien, and he swiftly attempts to uncover the secrets buried at Hobbs End.
This was the third film from Hammer to feature the scientific adventures of Professor Quatermass, however, it jettisoned Brian Donlevy -the actor who had played the professor in the previous two films -in favour of Andrew Keir. Some of the other supporting cast include Julian Glover as Colonel Breen, James Donald as Dr Mathew Roney and Barbara Shelley as Barbara Judd. Perhaps Shelley’s character name being the same as her real name was down to her astounding acting chops -or maybe it was just a coincidence. Either way, the majority of the actors do a sterling job, but Barbara’s acting is rather whiffy.
The special effects haven’t dated particularly well (unsurprisingly), but considering the limitations, the alien insects, spaceships and levitating objects, are all propelled by an intelligent script, which has far more subtlety than explosions -a concept that Michael Bay could do with learning.
Roy Ward Baker had quite the storied career, working on television shows like The Avengers, The Saint and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). He made films throughout his career, but none have been so fondly remembered as the films he made for Hammer or his definitive Titanic film, A Night to Remember.
Quatermass and the Pit was an enjoyable science-fiction/horror, although compared to modern standards the horror is arguably child-friendly, but so what. It has an intelligent script and a newly restored digital-print to boast, so I like all those in attendance, sat back and enjoyed this Martian romp, through late-1960s London.
- Language Lessons | platonic Rom-Com excels in chemistry - October 10, 2021
- Sediments | a glimpse of the experiences faced by trans women - October 9, 2021
- Mark Cousins | The Storms of Jeremy Thomas - October 8, 2021