Night #19: Quatermass And The Pit (1967)

Quatermass

Directed By: Roy Ward Baker

Today we take our first, but not last, foray into Hammer with another attempt at the Quatermass stories. I covered their initial attempt, The Quatermass Xperiment last year and liked the slice of quintessentially British sci-fi. I’m not sure how happy Hammer were though (And indeed original writer Nigel Kneale) since the Quatermass here is much more of what was originally intended, and of course, there’s that glorious Eastman colour.

Gone is the unlikeable Brian Donlevy as Quatermass the Doctor and replaced with the more thoughtful Quatermass the Rocket Scientist and with it comes Andrew Kier. This time around an excavation on the London underground reveals first buried remains and then a mysterious craft. While Quatermass and the British government argue over where the craft come from – the government believing that it was the remnant of some German wargames – there are deeper questions about the possible origins of man.

I love the look of London in this, courtesy of that Eastman colour stock that Hammer were so fond of, it makes the city stand out like an old colour photograph. In an era of washed out colours (Seriously, why is everthing so desaturated now) this only makes Hammer and the Italian Giallo movies stand out even more. Like Ghost Stories there’s something about it that just feels very much of this country. It’s almost comforting.

While the Quatermass stories in its various forms are usually entwined with their Britishness, this one carries a strong Lovecraftian vibe about it although though it lacks his unbelievable racism which is probably for the best. It ties up the alien invaders into some mysticism and ultimately our own place as a species. I have to suspect this might’ve had some influence on Stephen King’s Revival though his goes to a much darker and sinister place (And honestly has filled me with existential dread since I first read it).

Just a short one tonight. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but because there’s not a lot to say or to make fun of. Check it out! Give those old classics a try and show Hammer some love.

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