Quatermass and the Pit

Over the course of the last couple of months in lockdown, I’ve been working my way through a box set of 21 Hammer films. Some are great, some are not. One of them – QUATERMASS AND THE PIT – just happens to be one of my favourite films of all time and, when I realised I’d not recommended it here, I thought I’d better correct that. It also gives me an opportunity to plug issue 60 of SCREAM MAGAZINE, which just happens to feature an excellent article about the various adaptations of Nigel Kneale’s tale.

Professor Bernard Quatermass is one of my fictional heroes. He’s a man in search of truth and explanation; someone who refuses to be bullied by the military or the media or politicians into making assumptions or rash decisions. It’s interesting – watching the TV news from around the world right now, you can see more than a few Quatermass-like characters biting their lips in the background while our so-called world leaders talk nonsense and bullshit their way around the truth about the pandemic and its effects.

There are four Quatermass stories, and all of them are worthy of your attention. The first, the Quatermass Experiment, was a ground-breaking serial first broadcast live by the BBC in 1955 which told the story of the first manned space flight. On the ship’s return, two of the three-man crew are missing. The sole survivor begins acting strangely and it soon becomes clear that he has been taken over by an alien presence. I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been for viewers back in the day, prior to the beginning of the space race, as they watched huddled together around their black and white TV sets. But it’s QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, the professor’s third outing, which is the most well-known of Kneale’s stories. To my mind, the 1967 Hammer adaptation is a classic.

During excavations in London a large unidentified object is unearthed. It defies definition although the area has always been associated with diabolical evil. Within its walls Professor Quatermass discovers the remains of intelligent alien creatures that attempted to conquer the Earth in prehistoric times and, through their experiments on early man, altered human evolution to its present state. Though dormant for many centuries, the power supply from the excavations is being drained by the ship until its terrifying force can be unleashed and the creatures can reinstate their violent dominance over man.

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I should be working (but instead I’m reading)

I really should be working, but it’s been a while since I got hold of a copy of SCREAM and, as usual, it’s packed with good stuff.

 

Having recently sat through the film again, I particularly enjoyed the comprehensive feature about FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE. Also noteworthy were the articles about PIRANHA, the career of JOE DANTE, and oft-overlooked sequel EXORCIST III. And that’s why I love SCREAM, and why I post about it whenever a new issue lands on the doormat – it’s a magazine for true horror fans who’ve lived and breathed the genre for years. It focuses on the classics as well as the contemporary. Long may it continue!

You can get hold of SCREAM from www.screamhorrormag.com/store. It’s also available from BARNES & NOBLE and BOOKS A MILLION stores in the USA, CHAPTERS/INDIGO stores in Canada, EASON stores across Ireland, and in the UK you can pick up copies from WH Smith, HMV, FOPP and FORBIDDEN PLANET.