What a treat it was to watch the new Blu-Ray of Hammer’s 1967 sci-fi classic Quatermass and the Pit. When I sat down and put it on I realised that the only copy of the film that I have previously ever owned was a VHS taped off a television broadcast from the nineties (where it was shown under its alternative title, Five Million Years to Earth), so seeing it in any kind of hi-def for the first time was a real eye-opener.
Quatermass and the Pit still holds up as intelligent, clever and sometimes thought-provoking piece of genre filmmaking, with director Roy Ward Baker delivering a very satisfying blend of science and scares, and anchored by a commanding performance by Andrew Keir as Professor Quatermass. Sure, some of the characters are cliched and a couple of the effects look more suited to the Dr. Who episodes of the day, but the story is engrossing and rousing, and there are more than enough clever and effective visual touches to compensate (such as the devil-like Martian spectral image that appears over the city at the film’s climax - a genuinely disturbing visage). And on top of everything else, we get the beautiful Barbara Shelly in a cute plaid skirt and tight red sweater!