Before Doctor Who there was Quatermass, which started off as a 1953 BBC TV serial. The show’s success lead Hammer Films to adapt it into a movie, The Quatermass Xperiment, which I’ve written about a couple of times (here and here). Creator Nigel Kneale wrote two more TV serials — Quatermass 2 and Quatermass and the Pit — which were both made into films by Hammer. That’s a lot of Quartermass!
Professor Bernard Quatermass was played by American actor Brian Donlevy for Hammer’s first two outings. It was felt that Donlevy, a recognizable supporting actor from dozens of films and TV shows, had the stature to get the film theatrical screenings in North America. Kneale, whoever, disliked Donlevy as Quatermass because Donlevy played the character as kind of a huckster instead of a brilliant scientist. For the third film, Quatermass and the Pit, Andrew Keir stepped into the role. He was a perfect fit.
Workers are digging underground to extend London’s subway when they come across a strange-looking skeleton in the area known as Hobbs End. Paleontologist Matthew Roney (James Donald) is called in. He concludes the skeleton is an ape man that’s almost five million years old. More digging discovers a strange metal object. The military are quick to declare it to be a bomb.
Meanwhile Quatermass is mad that the military are taking over his plans to colonize the moon. Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) is now in charge of Quatermass’s British Experimental Rocket Group. Breen gets a call about the object and Quatermass tags along. Another skeleton is found by the object but there is no way to get in. Quatermass researches the area known as Hobbs End and discovers a history of hauntings and sightings of the devil. Quatermass is certain the strange object is alien in origin. While trying to drill into the object it sudden opens revealing strange insect humaniod skeletons with horns like a devil.
Quatermass believes that the creatures are martians that came to the Earth millions of years ago. The creatures had strong psychic powers and can affect those around even after all this time. Quatermass takes his discovery to his bosses but he isn’t believed. Then, disaster strikes.
This is an excellent and creepy Hammer film and a dark finale for Hammer’s Quatermass series. Here is my original post.