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When a skull is found during building works at Knightsbridge, London, the work is halted in order that a full archaeological dig can proceed. The diggers delve deeper, finding more skulls, but also finding some form of tube-like shell made of a ceramic like material. The Ministry of Defence believe it to be an un-exploded bomb, but when they manage to dig inside the shell, dead insect-like creatures are found. The MOD continue with their story, but Professor Quatermass's theory that the insects are Martians who visited Earth over five million years ago is proved to be correct with drastic consequences. Written by
During the cliffhanger of Episode Two ("The Ghosts") the interior of the capsule is still streaked with dirt and clay. When this scene is reprised at the start of Episode Three ("Imps and Demons") the capsule is completely clean, even though no time is supposed to have elapsed. See more »
"Sladden"!- nearly 50 years later few it seems have forgotten, (who could forget) the name, and the scene where, terrified-possessed, seeking sanctuary in a church, he collapses - and the gravel underneath him, moved by some evil telekinesis, churns in waves? Like others, childhood walks home at night following the screening became panic-stricken runs. I was never able to fully watch the final episode
one glimpse of that incandescent THING hovering in mid-air proved
much too much (I think they cut it from the VHS version).
Watching it now, the programme has in some ways gained rather than lost in power. The implication of the sequence and ages of the discoveries in the pit makes the room seem suddenly colder, kicking off a roller coaster of rising hysteria. The struggles of Quatermass: brilliant, strong minded, humane, brave; against demonic possession bordered on the harrowing. What a fine performance by Andre Morelle. Breen - wonderfully cast - and played. Anthony Bushell's voice always was high and rather edgy. For the first time this quality was fully exploited as the unimaginative military man fought a losing battle against things beyond his imagination. I once met him by chance in 1985 in a bus queue in Oxford and asked about Quatermass. He was, rather disappointingly, amiable and civil.
The music, the sound effects - just perfect.
Many special effects - amazingly for '50's live TV - would not disappoint today - the whipping heavy cables, the air completely filled with debris in motion, as if every inanimate object had itself become possessed. The CREATURES - so creepy and repellent - how could anybody stay alone in a laboratory with one of them propped up on a tray? And who failed to jump violently when one just slightly but suddenly moved?
Now I notice the slight pauses at scene changes and the long scenes in very small sets - while the main set was being prepared for the next scene. A distraction? No, a chance steady the nerves! Whatever happened to the vessel? Does it still exist? If it does, which of us could casually walk inside?
Quatermass and the Pit excelled in nearly every aspect where other productions might just score OK in most and good in one or two. In terms of the impact it made it can only come second to Orson Welle's 1938 radio production of "War of the Worlds" where the listening public really believed that the Earth was being invaded. That though was mainly achieved by sleight of hand. Quatermass and the Pit convinced through compelling logical story development, fine acting and brilliant production.
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