A Bobby walks the streets of 1960's London one evening, pausing at the entrance of a London Underground station where workmen are busy chipping away at it's infrastructure.

Inside the subway, one of the workers uncovers a skull resembling a primitive form of man. Another bashes away at cement with his pickaxe and stumbles across a full skeleton hidden behind the wall.

A group of scientists are brought in to examine the findings, and before long the press have got wind of the story too. The scientists tell the journalists that the fossils indicate that man-like creatures roamed the Earth as far back as 5 million years ago. These guys are thorough, and have even moulded a clay cast of what the beasts may have looked like. It ain't pretty.

When the press start poking at a hole in the wall, in the hope of unearthing more news, they discover what seems to be an unexploded bomb. Understandably, the next port of call is the bomb disposal unit. But even they are baffled by the findings.

It's at this point that we meet Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir, ROB ROY), deep in debate with army chiefs over the possibility of army bases being set up on other planets. Quatermass' objections are cast aside, however, when the discussion is interrupted by a telegram telling of an enemy missile uncovered in a London Underground station. The army head out there to investigate, and Quatermass goes along for the ride.

As more remains are unearthed, Quatermass decides to investigate locally and begins to hear stories of ghostly goings-on, alien manifestations and strange occurrences in nearby buildings ... oh, and that the street name of the Underground entrance is said to be an old nickname for the Devil!

Charmingly old-fashioned and crude in terms of set design and special effects, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT proves that a decent story told be talent actors and a good director (Roy Ward Baker, SCARS OF DRACULA' AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS!) can still make for a riveting - if silly - film.

Of course it's all horribly dated (it's like a hammy radio play with the added visuals), but it's also nicely shot and acted with tireless conviction. The pedigree English acting may provoke giggles among some viewers, but the plot's clever twists and (for it's time) adventurously anti-establishment theme should soon win back their respect.

Just remember to be forgiving when the aliens finally appear on screen - on a par with the old DR WHO TV series FX! And stay tuned for a finale that was iconic in it's day, and remains so.

Minor grain doesn't stop the overall effect of the 16x9-enhanced 1.78:1 image being brilliant. Sharp, clean, clear - a marked improvement on any previous offerings. The English mono is just as impressive.

The film can be accessed via 12 chapters.

The only extra is the original theatrical trailer. This is in great shape (16x9 enhanced), and is fantastic fun - very funny, in the nicest possible way.

A great film (though some may argue the earlier TV version is still better). It's a shame the disc doesn't have more in the way of extras - a Baker commentary would have been great, and was surely possible considering his input into other recent Hammer releases.

But for the excellent presentation of the main feature alone, this must worth an investment.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Optimum
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review