QUATERMASS & THE PIT ON BLURAY: 10.10.11
1958 was a watershed year for venerable UK movie producers Hammer Films. That was the year when they revolutionized horror cinema, updating the classic monsters of the 30s Universal era – specifically Dracula and Frankenstein – for a new generation whose interests had been piqued by revivals of the older horror films as well as magazines and comic books based on these first superstar monsters.
By bringing horror to the audience in vivid colour and by not holding back on the violence and sexuality, Hammer set a gothic blueprint for scary movies that would make the studio a lot of money and help push the genre forward, but Hammer were never just a horror studio. Let’s not talk about the On The Buses movies here shall we, but if you want to see another, quieter revolution in British film, look back upon the years leading up to that fateful year of 1958 – when the studio tied it’s horror colours to the mast and became forever associated with camp vamps and ripped bodices – and explore the mannered and rather wonderful Sci-Fi movies that the studio produced, among which Quatermass & The Pit is a stand out.
Effectively a dry run for the mad science plots of future Gothic Frankenstein offerings, this terribly proper English countryside set, research gone wrong drama is a rather gentle thrill ride for modern audiences.
With special effects lifted from early Sci-fi classic Rocketship X-M, Spaceways is a low budget manned space flight drama designed as a programme filler. A curio from the vaults.
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
And so Hammer’s Sci Fi output leaves behind the quaint for a far more psychologically terrifying arena of genuine fear and unease. Adapting the hit BBC drama series for a big screen, X-rated version, the first cinematic appearance of Professor Quatermass was a runaway success, leading to a sequel – Quatermass II – and the classic late 60s movie, Quatermass & The Pit (Read the full press release for the upcoming Bluray edition of HERE)
X The Unknown (1956)
Or maybe… an unofficial Quatermass? Writer Nigel Kneale refused permission for the professor to appear in X The Unknown, a Scotland set Alien invasion yarn which ticks similar boxes to the classic series of Sci-Fi movies. Soldiers start by detecting high levels of radiation in the Highlands, leading to horrific off camera terror as something nasty stalks the locals.
The Abominable Snowman (1957)
Peter Cushing heads up a team of explorers in the Himalayas in search of the mythic Yeti. Echoes of the moral dilemmas at the heart of the King Kong story are present as Cushing, in his role as a man committed to science, must battle those in his team with more commercial interests… and a load of angry Yetis as well.