QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) A HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DIRECTED BY ROY WARD BAKER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. WRITTEN BY NIGEL KNEALE.

STARRING BARBARA SHELLEY, JAMES DONALD, JULIAN GLOVER, DUNCAN LAMONT AND ANDREW KEIR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is a sequel to earlier HAMMER films THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and QUATERMASS 2. It’s a terrific blend of horror and science fiction with absolutely top-notch acting from some great English actors thrown in for good measure.

Basically, what happens in it is that the London Underground is being dug up for the purposes of extending it. Tell me about it. A few years back, Dublin was all dug up to actual buggery as our LUAS lines were extended, slowly and painfully, across the city. The LUAS is kind of like our London Underground, except that it’s above ground. It’s the Dublin Overground, lol.

Anyway, the difference between our LUAS works and the excavations in the film is that, in the film, an ancient Martian spacecraft is discovered amongst the rubble, along with the remains of early human ancestors in excess of five million years old. That’s quite the archaeological find, naturally, or it would be if there wasn’t a dreadful sense of evil emanating from the discoveries in waves.

Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir: Hammer’s BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS), who has uncovered a disturbing connection between the remains and pagan beliefs in the devil as related to the mythology of London, clashes with the military’s Colonel Breen on the matter.

Breen, an obnoxious autocratic snobbish type, refuses to believe that the spacecraft is anything but a Nazi missile left over from World War Two. Typical toff. Always bloomin’ thinking they know what’s best for everyone.

His narrow mind simply cannot conceive of anything as outlandish as an attempt by the Martians to colonise Earth millions of years ago. But war with the Nazis is something he knows and understands.

It’s tangible and can be quantified, calculated and put on a chart, followed and understood. Therefore, the spacecraft and ancient remains must have something to with those pesky Nazis.

Julian Glover, who plays Colonel Breen, and who also portrays the ill-fated Nazi officer Hermann Fegelein (Eva Braun’s brother-in-law) in the Alec Guinness film, HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS (1973), remarked of his role as Breen that he was ‘the obligatory asshole…!’

Barbara Shelley is wonderful as Dr. Roney’s assistant, Barbara Judd, the woman who has a kind of ‘shining’ thing going on with the spacecraft and the Martian remains. She’s a Hammer sex symbol for the thinking or discerning man, I always think, a class act, a real lady.

Okay, so her clothes don’t fall off her in every second scene like some of her fellow Hammer babes, but she’s drop-dead sexy nonetheless, even in a plain sweater and sensible knee-length skirt as she goes about her business here in QUATERMASS AND THE PIT.

However, if you do want to see her all sexed up and panting like a young one on her wedding night, then check out her performance in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS after she’s been vampirised by no less a personage than the Count himself.

Or even her portrayal of Sonia in Hammer’s RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK, in which she plays a woman driven to the brink of insanity by her love for the manipulative but desperately charismatic Rasputin, played by Hammer leading man Christopher Lee. She’s top totty, like Joanna Lumley. A piece of classy crumpet, lol.

The scene in which Barbara Judd and Sladden, the drill operator, get caught up in a terrifying windstorm emanating from the newly-unearthed missile is probably the best and most nail-bitingly exciting one in the whole film, and that’s really saying something.

Poor old Sladden (Duncan Lamont: Hammer’s THE WITCHES and FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN) is just an ordinary workman. He just wants to collect his tool bag and go home to bangers and mash with the missus. He doesn’t ask to be so heavily influenced by the waves of malignity that wash off the old spaceship that he nearly loses his mind.

First he’s being blown out of the Underground and across the street, then whooshed unceremoniously down the road, through the old churchyard and into a chair in front of the local vicar, who is deeply alarmed by the workman’s demented ramblings about an alien race of insects, of all things…!

The scene where the good old British bobby gets freaked-out by the obviously nearby presence of evil in Hob’s End always gives me a chill too. ‘Hob used to be an old name for the Devil…!’ If those old tenements can put the willies up a solid, stolid, soundly chin-strapped British copper, then you won’t find me poking about them, that’s for sure.

Other great scenes include poor Dr. Roney’s ultimate act of heroism and bravery (oh, his poor little grim determined face as he moves closer, inexorably closer to his nemesis and a certain doom! He should get a medal for what he does.) and also the removal of the huge oozing grasshopper thingies from the spaceship for closer scrutiny in Dr. Roney’s laboaratory.

I watched this film on the big screen in 2016 in the Irish Film Institute, by the way, as part of a much-welcome folk horror film festival they were hosting that summer. Remember when we used to be able to do stuff like that without even thinking about it…? God be with the days. Truly, we didn’t know what we had till we lost it. Let’s just hope we bloody well get it back at some stage.

The film was introduced in person by novelist and film critic Kim Newman, whom some of you might recognise as having written for EMPIRE magazine. He’s always being asked to comment on different movies for the extra features you find on your DVD. He’s good-humoured, funny, a snappy dresser (love the weskits and the ponytail!) and is super-knowledgeable on the subject of films and cinema history.

Anyway, he turned up in the sweltering heat wearing a big wide-brimmed hat which would have been useful for keeping the sun off his bonce. I think we might have been having our summer that day…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY DON CHAFFEY. STARRING CARITA JÄRVINEN AND DON MURRAY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’m not crazy about this Hammer historical adventure film, even though it counts a number of excellent actors and actresses among its cast members. It’s set in the times of yore, when the Romans came over to England to conquer it like it had conquered so many other countries at the time. The Romans were the Nazi Germany of their era, lol.

Used to the balmier climate of Italy, however, the Romans were less than impressed with Old Britain and the rain and the cold and the wind and the mud. ‘Filthy bloody country!’ would therefore have been a frequently voiced insult of the time.

The CARRY ON film franchise referenced this period also, in their marvellous movie CARRY ON CLEO, in which Kenneth Connor and Jim Dale as Hengist Pod and Horsa respectively are British peasants.

They are living crudely in caves and mud huts and attempting to invent the wheel and other such prehistoric pursuits, when they are captured by the Romans and brought over to Rome to live as slaves. Hilarity obviously ensues, in what some critics deem to be the best film in the whole series. It’s certainly a most superior historical comedy.

THE VIKING QUEEN confuses the issue somewhat with its title, as there aren’t any Vikings as we know them (huge blonde bearded fearsome beasts from the Scandinavian countries who raped and pillaged wherever their extensive travels took them) in the film.

The titular Queen, however, Queen Salina, is said to be loosely based on Boadicea, the warrior queen (might this perhaps have been a better title for the film?) of the British Celtic Iceni tribe (a tribe of Ancient Britons; the history is quite complicated) who died nobly while fighting the invading Romans and thereby passed, splendidly and unhampered, into British folk legend.

Queen Salina, played by the gorgeous blonde Finnish fashion model Carita, who apparently twice turned down the chance to be a Bond girl, becomes the ruler of such a tribe of Ancient Britons when her beloved Pops, the King, pops his clogs. Her Pops pops his clogs, lol. Very amusing stuff, very amusing indeed.

At first, she attempts to rule side-by-side with the local conquering Roman forces, an arrangement which I would imagine was positively fraught with difficulties and conflicts of interest.

She even goes so far as to fall in love with the local Roman leader, the domineering and handsome Justinian. (PS, to ‘Roman’ up your name, simply add the suffix ‘ian’ to your own name; eg., Darrenian, Wayneian, Billian, Timothyian, Paulian, Garyian, Martinian, Jackian, etc.)

The Druids, who are used to dictating terms to the Ancient Britons, a deeply superstitious people, are not happy with the union, and neither are some of Justinian’s Romans, in particular Ocatavian, played by Hammer regular Andrew Keir (BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT).

It’s not too long before the Ancient Britons, led by the brave and courageous (and bosomy) Queen Salina, and the Romans, headed by Justinian, Salina’s chisel-jawed lover, are at each others’ throats, both metaphorically and actually. The wet, muddy God-forsaken land both parties occupy will run red with the blood of both sides…

There are some terrific character actors in the film whose faces will be familiar to you, including Patrick Troughton (DR. WHO, SCARS OF DRACULA), Niall MacGinnis (NIGHT OF THE DEMON, ISLAND OF TERROR; remember the silicates???) and Percy Herbert (CARRY ON JACK, CARRY ON CLEO, CARRY ON COWBOY, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.).

WeIl-known Irish character actress Anna Manahan (Roman Polanski’s MACBETH, unsuccessful Irish sitcom LEAVE IT TO MRS. O’BRIEN) has a small part in the film as a wailing villager terribly ill-used by the Romans.

As well as the acts of violence to exert their domination over the natives, the Romans taxed the bejeesus out of the poor folks as well. When they complained and said they couldn’t pay, the Romans just said, well, look at all the lovely roads we’re building for ye! To which one villager in the film replies, well, as I’ve lived in this shit-hole my whole life and I never go anywhere, your roads don’t exactly thrill me to my core. I like this guy, he tells it like it is!

I love Adrienne Corri (VAMPIRE CIRCUS, MADHOUSE starring Vincent Price) and the stunning, moist-lipped and doe-eyed Nicola Pagett (UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS) as Queen Salina’s older sister Beatrice and younger sibling Talia respectively.

Talia, in fact, seems to be the victim of an implied rape by naughty Andrew Keir as the rather vicious Octavian, in a scene that culminates with the sexy, bare-breasted public whipping of Queen Salina. (The bare breasts are implied, but it’s still good.) For shame, Octavian, and, erm, keep up the good work, there’s a good fellow…!

There’s plenty of long blonde hair, side-boob and back-boob, chariot-fighting and lovely skimpy dresses on display, if not a huge amount of actual history, but who cares when you have side-boob? Enjoy the movie, Hammer fans. It’s good, mucky fun.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) A BUSTY HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) BASED ON THE 1903 NOVEL, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS, BY BRAM STOKER. A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY SETH HOLT AND MICHAEL CARRERAS.

STARRING VALERIE LEON, ANDREW KEIR, JAMES VILLIERS, JAMES COSSINS AND AUBREY MORRIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Talk about a yummy mummy. This excellent Hammer romp has two big things in its favour; namely, lead actress Valerie Leon’s left boob, and lead actress Valerie Leon’s right boob, lol.

These are without a doubt the most magnificent breasts ever featured in a Hammer film, and Hammer films, as we know, featured many great boobies. But these knockers are in a class of their own, and should really have been given their own line in the credits.

Ms. Leon’s fabulous hair and eyes are not to be sneezed at, either. Her gorgeous chestnut tresses are so windblown and lovely and natural that I refuse to believe she was wearing a wig in this film, even though she admits to it herself.

And those beautiful, mysterious eyes! She really was the perfect choice to play both the evil Egyptian Queen Tera, as well as Tera’s modern day alter ego, Margaret Fuchs (pronounced Fookes), the daughter of a fervent Egyptologist.

Andrew Keir (Father Sandor in Hammer’s DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS and Professor Bernard Quatermass in Hammer’s QUATERMASS AND THE PIT) plays Margaret’s father, Julian Fuchs, the lucky bastard who gets to tuck that hot tamale into bed at night.

He’s obsessed with the aforementioned Queen Tera, to the point that he’s brought her perfectly preserved body and sarcophagus back from Egypt with him to his house, where he’s recreated her tomb in his basement. What a weirdo, right…?

Margaret, his own precious daughter, is the living image of Tera, and, when Daddy gives Margaret Tera’s old ring for her birthday, Tera’s evil powers begin to reach out across the chasm of centuries to take possession of Margaret.

Daddy Fuchs is not a very good Daddy. He wants to revive Tera, not realising that reviving Tera will mean his own daughter’s death. Margaret is so seduced by the power of the long-dead queen that she wants to revive Tera too, and so does Daddy’s old colleague (now his deadly rival), a plummy-voiced toff by the name of Corbeck.

The smarmy Corbeck has his own reasons for wanting to commit such a destructive act, and, when people have their own reasons for wanting to do things, it’s hard to dissuade them…

Together they set out to retrieve Tera’s ancient evil relics from the various members of the original expedition, because they need the relics to resurrect the old queen. Are they biting off more than they can chew? And will there be deadly consequences? Most assuredly, dear reader. Most assuredly…

There are some marvellous shots of Ms. Leon (in her time a Bond Girl and a Carry On hottie as well as a Hammer beauty) in a slinky negligée, with a wind machine blowing her hair artistically around her perfect boat-race.

Ms. Leon as Tera is pictured lying down with some kind of heavy gold necklet resting on her otherwise bare bosoms. She steals every scene she’s in with her stunning, matchless beauty.

I also love the inclusion in the cast of brilliant character actors James Cossins (FAWLTY TOWERS, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM, Hammer’s THE ANNIVERSARY and Hammer’s THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) and Aubrey Morris, the gravedigger-gardener from THE WICKER MAN (1973).

A word about the craze for Egyptology and Egyptomania that existed when Bram Stoker wrote the little-known book on which the film was based, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS.

Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, and the Victorians were fascinated by Egypt and all things Egyptian. As was Bram Stoker, who possessed quite a decent collection of books and writings on Egypt.

The British occupation of Egypt made it easier for them (the British) to bring the artifacts and sarcophagi they uncovered in that mystic land back to Blighty with them. (Whether or not it was entirely ethical for them to do so is another matter.)

Mummies and other paraphernalia frequented ended up in private homes as well as public museums, and there was a huge rise in the popularity of ‘mummy fiction.’

Mummy’s curses were frequently the topic of these stories and novels, that is, curses on the people who raped (let’s call a spade a spade here) and desecrated the splendour and grandeur of these ancient tombs and took their spoils home with them to other countries for profit and personal fame.

Female mummies in Victorian mummy-lit were usually sex objects and the male mummies autocratic princes or pharaohs. Some of the greatest films of all time are ‘mummy’ movies; for example, Boris Karloff’s UNIVERSAL triumph of 1932, THE MUMMY, and Hammer’s THE MUMMY of 1959, which starred the superb Christopher Lee in the title role.

Two facts about BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB you may not have known. Firstly, dear old Peter Cushing was initially cast as Busty St. Clair’s Daddio, but sadly had to withdraw after only one day’s filming due to his wife’s illness. And secondly, the scene where Hooters is eating that banana is indeed a metaphor for oral sex. D’uh, lol.

Anyway, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, featuring a rather cheeky disembodied hand, is a dark, moody atmospheric slice of Gothic film horror and could even be one of their bestest films. And never forget the two factors chiefly responsible for its success… Valerie Leon’s magnificent right boob, and Valerie Leon’s magnificent left boob…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.