Quatermass and the Pit (UK, 1967)

Digging up the unknown

Digging up the unknown

The image above might suggest a rather tacky, low budget SF-horror movie but this is a terrific example of Hammer horror. It’s not the Gothic remakes, featuring Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, but Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass, a character who first (and last in 2005) appeared on TV. Whilst some of the characterisation, the paternal academics, has dated and most of the special effects can’t match contemporary cinema, it still packs a punch; indeed some of the effects are quite brilliant (the swirling plates as an infected man robotically sways through the streets). And the ‘devil over London’ remains a disturbing image.

Shot in colour I suspect that this had more than the usual Hammer low budget; MGM is mentioned in the credits (but not on imdb). Hollywood did invest a lot in ‘Swinging London’ so maybe that’s why the production values are high. I liked the representation of the military and politicians as unimaginative types (‘squares’) and the narrative is spookily built up (alien invaders making things go bump in the night). The video footage gathered by ‘mind reading’ equipment was reminiscent of Ringu (Japan, 1998); I wonder if Nakata Hideo had seen this film.

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