Quatermass And The Pit Blu-Ray Review

Quatermass And The Pit is one of the prime examples of Hammer Horror’s ‘Golden Age’ during the mid-60s. Perviously made into a TV series in the late 50s, this Sci-fi horror is both eerily unsettling and lavishly produced. This is sliver aged Hammer as Quatermass and The Pit signals one of the last great features of Hammer.

Written by the late Nigel Kneale it is easy to see why this is his most defining piece of work. It is also one of director Roy Ward Baker’s best features for Hammer along withother  Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde and Scars of Dracula (the latter notable as the first film to have Draclua climb up the castle walls). Charting the secret underground invasion of earth from a race of long dead insect-like aliens. But is there something altogether more terrifying about this race and what are their ties to our society.

What Kneale crafted with this, his third in the Quatermass series, was a truly haunting piece of epic sci-fi. Still managing to challenge and intrigue all those that continue to embrace its intelligent writing. After several viewings this is still as unsettling as it was the first time, helped even more so by its standout (and might I add very british) performances by Andrew Kerr (as Dr Quatermass), the husky voiced Barbara Shelley and the always brilliant Julian Glover.

It really is a haunting piece of cult Sci-Fi and this is echoed in every aspect of its production. Everything from the claustrophobic London Underground setting, its eerie apparitions and nods to London riots, this is as relevant and as fresh now as it would have been in the late 60s. The climax itself is one of the best Hammer ever produced and possibly one of their most emotionally charged. It will both thrill and chill in equal measure, rest assured Quatermass And the Pit has lost none of its powerful storytelling.

Presentation shown here on this Blu-Ray release, as mentioned before, is utterly glorious.  Studio Canal (previously Optimum Releasing) has done an absolutely stand-up job on this title. Each of the frames that legendary cinematographer Arthur Grant (Curse of The Werewolf, Plague of The Zombies) composed looks so pristine, as to bring a genuine tear to the eye of any Hammer Horror fan. This is quite literally the best Quatermass And The Pit has ever looked and its is all the better because of it, as the technicolor image looks unbelievably scrumptious on this Blu-Ray release.

Extras for this release are sparse but in-depth and informative. Included within this package are interviews with Hammer Horror fan Mark Gatiss (who provides his own insight to the workings of Nigel Kneale); actor Julian Glover; Judith Kerr who discusses her husbands involvement with the film while film historian and mustachioed cult film critic Kim Newman and Gremlins director Joe Dante, round out the selection.

One rather large highlight is the audio commentary featuring Nigel Kneale and director Roy Ward Baker. It provides some in-depth discussions on the making of the film and particularly Kneale’s annoyance at Hammer for ruining The Quatermass Experiment and Quatermass II. The package is rounded off with a classic World Of Hammer episode (staying firmly within its Sci-Fi roots) as well as both the US and UK theatrical trailers. Its lovingly made front cover also comes courtesy of cult artist Olly Moss (more recently he has created the front cover for Resistance 3) and as cover art goes, it is by far some of the best released in recent years.

For those looking for an intelligent slice of British Sci-fi along the lines of H.G Wells, would do well to invest some time of his brilliant piece of cinema. It also goes to show that third time is indeed a charm, as this is a rare example of a third part which really works. It is a real shame that British Sci-Fi has not been as inventive since Quatermass.

Dominic O’Brien

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