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This review appears direct to the web courtesy of THE CINEMA LASER.



I am a huge Hammer fan and in my humble opinion, their production of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT ($50) is one of the greatest British science fiction films of all time. This, the third and final of Hammer’s Quatermass series was released in the United States as FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH. Both the film’s writer Nigel Kneale and director Roy Ward Baker hated the American title, so Elite Entertainment has released the film on Laserdisc with its original British title restored.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT follows after THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT and QUATERMASS II and provides its protagonist title character with his most difficult challenge. In QUATERMASS AND THE PIT Professor Quatermass helps to investigate one of the most devastating scientific discoveries man has ever faced. While digging a London subway extension, the workmen uncover the remains of several prehistoric humans. Further excavation leads to the discovery of a Martian space ship and proof that the Martians were responsible for genetic manipulation of the ancient apes that gave rise to mankind. It is also discovered that the Martians were a dying race. Unable to survive on the Earth, the Martians incorporated themselves into mankind’s ancestors. Nigel Kneale’s screenplay is fascinating and frightening, while Roy Ward Baker’s direction is riveting. The cast of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT features James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley and Julian Glover.

Elite Entertainment Inc. through their association with William Lustig have given QUATERMASS AND THE PIT a glorious looking Letterboxed transfer which presents the film fairly close to a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I’ve never seen QUATERMASS AND THE PIT look better than it does on this Elite Laserdisc. With its well defined image and natural looking colors, this transfer is an absolute winner. For this presentation, Chase Production created a newly mixed Dolby Surround soundtrack that adds tremendously to the impact of the film.

The digitally encoded track has good bass, while the films creepy sound effects gain a sense of direction. The overall effect of the Dolby Surround re-mix is to enhance a number of the film’s more frightening sequences. Elite Entertainment has also included a newly mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack for this release.

As its chief supplemental feature for QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, Elite Entertainment has included an audio commentary with the film’s director Roy Ward Baker and writer Nigel Kneale. The commentary is informative, although a bit dry. However, Hammer fans will be delighted to hear the creators talk about one of the studio’s finest achievements. Other supplements include British and American theatrical trailers as well as US TV spots.

As I stated above, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is one of the greatest British science fiction films of all time. This Elite Laserdisc edition is simply marvelous. Absolutely recommended.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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