Meanwhile, England is in the race for being the first military presence on the moon and in outer space, much to the disgust of Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir), who works for the Ministry of Defense but prefers science over strategic world maneuvers. During his discussion with Colonel Breen (Julian Glover), the two are called to the underground tunnel to investigate the slowly revealing missile. The first guess is a German weapon, until another, nearly intact skull is located inside – perhaps it’s some sort of spaceship. They then discover that the surrounding area has a history of haunting, with old wives’ tales fueling ghost stories and eerie suppositions about evil creatures and the devil – it’s a place long notorious for weird happenings. They’re all scientists, however, refusing to accept the idea of aliens, goblins or phantoms – until they unearth the entire object with evidence of a sealed compartment with something still inside…
Quatermass and the Pit includes a few overly advanced science-fiction gadgetries that put it entirely in the realm of science-fiction. Although the setting and characters are grounded in reality, at least as much as they are convincingly acted, the notion of supernatural elements, flying saucers, premonitions, hallucinations, mind control, hideous dwarves, and monstrous, gooey, horned locust, create an enticingly thrilling horror premise. It’s also a mystery, cleverly building to a point in which the real scares are introduced. Unfortunately, the monsters themselves are expectedly rubbery, accompanied by dated special effects and cheap practical creature makeup.
The theories, especially of Martians, telekinesis, the alien intervention of the evolution of man, and the resulting military cover-up procedures are pure B-movie material, but brilliantly original. The Ministry won’t stand for otherworldly presumptions, demanding rational explanations and solid proof that is likely to be dismissed even if it were substantial – the “proof” that is finally supplied is in fact rather hokey. Resorting to an apparatus that can create images from an unconscious mind, Quatermass and the Pit heads steadily down the road of silliness, rerouting it from the more alluring opening premise. And while the conclusion is action-packed and startling, it leaves things a bit too open-ended.
- Mike Massie