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Quatermass and the Pit [DVD] 
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Hammer version of the popular TV series. When prehistoric skulls and the remains of an alien spaceship are discovered in the bowels of London's Underground during an excavation, a weird and powerful force is unleashed. Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) is called in to investigate.
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What you get on the disc is a wealth of extras, there's audio commentary with creator Nigel Kneale, and Roy Ward Baker the films director. There is also a talking heads section with Kneales widow, Mark Gatiss, Julian Glover who plays the deluded Colonel Breen in the film, and Kim Newman, who has recently released an excellent book about the film, and published by the BFI.
There are also TV spots carried over from USA Anchor Bay release from the 1990s, as well as trailers etc. this really is a worthwhile Blu Ray purchase for all fans of Quatermass, Hammer and British homegrown SF. There is also a seperate DVD in the set which only contains the film with NO extras.
The improvements in detail and colour are astonishing. There's a scene early on where Quatermass is at the MoD and is sat in a red leather chair. On the DVD it's a rather bland looking thing, on blu-ray the colour of the red really pops and contrasts wonderfully with the muted green of Quatermass's jacket.
The effects don't suffer too much because they were already pretty poor. It's possible to spot formerly invisible seams on the Martian craft and the rough and ready nature of the pentacle scratched in the interior is far more obvious. Facial detail and flesh tomes are excellent, to the point of being able to spot individual hairs sticking out of eyebrows (Slattern), see patterns on irises, pores and lines on faces, beads of sweat, that sort of thing. Areas that were gloomy, blurry and indistinct in the DVD are all clearer, despite remaining gloomy. All this extra detail doesn't distract attention from the film in any way, and to me at least, doesn't look unnatural.
There's been very little done to reduce film noise, so there's plenty of grain, some might consider it too intrusive. Personally, I prefer detail + grain, rather than the smeary plastic effects that result from excessive noise reduction (Predator, I'm trying not to look at you).
The soundtrack is an improvement on DVD, even on my basic setup.
If you've got the film on DVD and continue to watch it (as I do), I don't think you'll regret buying the blu-ray. I was left with the feeling that this might have been what it looked like as a fresh print at the cinema...
The plot? An intelligent, pacy drama with sci-fi and supernatural elements, crafted by the late, great Nigel Kneale, the father of UK sci-fi thanks to his creation of the driven Professor Quatermass. Hammer used the gruff American actor Brian Donlevy for their adaptations of the first two Quatermass serials in the fifties, but the gap that followed before this third serial made it to the big screen allowed a bigger budget, although being Hammer it was still ON a budget. Never mind - the effects are real creations as opposed to the ubiquitous and frankly overdone CGI of today and in the main come off. The pace rarely lets up and you can forgive the occasional cheesy effect.
But it's the plot that shines, many threads of fear in mankind's imaginative mind being cleverly woven together which build towards one fearful climax where action had to be taken, and it was James Donald's man of the moment Roney who nicks the last heroic stand to save London from disaster after the Government failed to listen to the warnings of Quatermass. Great support from stalwarts such as Peter Copley, Noel Howlett and Edwin Richfield all add to the storytelling and although Barbara Shelly is a bit underused Julian Glover's sceptical Colonel Breen, foisted upon Quatermass's British Rocket Group is a brilliantly realised counterpoint which may have been less effective in someone else's hands. Considering Anthony Bushell's original Breen was so excellently played on the small screen, it says much for both actor's talents in bringing this unsympathetic and rather limited character very much to life in different ways.
The Quatermass franchise was undoubtedly an influence on Doctor Who, and !Quatermass And The Pit" may have played a part in convincing the BBC that moving "Who" to be far more earth-bound just two years later would be a good thing. Just my humble opinion of course, but this film is without doubt the best of the good Professor's outings. Despite being the fifth actor in the role to date Andrew Kier's characterisation is (in my opinion) definitive and that says something, as Andre Morell's "Pit" Professor was darned good in the first place.
This Blu-Ray simply makes watchinlg this film a great experience again and the extras - no "making of" unfortunately - are quite good with plenty of interviews, notably Julian Glover. All extras are on the BR, the DVD is plain vanilla but that, and the fact the film was mastered to BR quality in the first place, may account for why the DVD film itself looked very good on first viewing.
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Not sure younger audiences would get it - & special effects very much of it's...Read more