Upgrade from DVD - Absolutely 4 Stars

While most cinephiles think of Hammer for their horror productions in the 1950s and ’60s, taking our beloved creatures, and delivering them in shocking colour, the company had successes in the ’50s in the sci-fi vein, beginning with films such as Four Sided Triangle.

In 1955, the first of their Quatermass films hit screens.

Very low-budget, black & white, cheap effects – you’ll undoubtedly note moving matte shots…

But it found an audience, possibly because it was skewed towards adults.

Home theater fans can finally own the films on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino and Scream Factory.

Originally BBC TV fare, the first of the films was The Quatermass Experiment, starring US actor, Brian Donlevy. Apparently, all British actors were at that time hard at work at Ealing, on the Guinness comedies.

The Val Guest directed production did well, and was followed two years later with Quatermass 2, again a low, but not as low-budget affair as the first.

Apparently, no film elements are known to survive for the film, with the exception of a single (fortunately clean) print. Those who follow shadow detail, will find it lacking here.

Move forward another decade, and Quatermass and the Pit arrived, this time in blazing Eastman Color. As I recall, this was the first that I had seen, probably on a TV broadcast.

Color adds to our ability to clearly discern that the creatures involved are rather stiff latex, and not actually aliens.

These are all “little” films. No sci-fi epics here.

But they have gained a reputation, that seems qualified, as wonderful, diminutive, UK sci-fi productions.

As an aside, there was to be a fourth film in the series, which ended up as X the Unknown.

Image – Quatermass Experiment – 4
Quatermass 2 – 3.25
Quatermass and the Pit – 3.75

Audio – 3.75 – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

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RAH

 

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Billy Batson

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Shame about Quatermass 2 (is this the first sequel to just have 2 after the title?). I don't think of the first two films as b/w, more like b/grey. I'd like to see the print they used for the transfer, I think a print with a decent grey scale would have worked, but how many generations away from the original neg was this print? I hope a print with a good grey scale can be found in the UK.

I saw Quatermass & The Pit at the cinema on release, but it didn't quite work for me, all that bright Eastman colour, it needed murky b/w & lots of night shots & the paranoia of the fifties, & of course Brian Donlevy as Quatermass.
 
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Lord Dalek

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Still doesn't excuse the fact that nobody wants to release the original Quatermass and The Pit on blu out here. Andre Morell runs circles arround all of these guys.
 
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Johnny Angell

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I don’t see this on Amazon.
 

Will Krupp

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There's a reason it's called "Quatermass II" and it has nothing to do with the fact that it's a sequel.
Well I've no doubt it was called Q11 because the original BBC TV serial was called Q11, but my point still stands...is it the first film sequel with 11 after the title?
 

Lord Dalek

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Well I've no doubt it was called Q11 because the original BBC TV serial was called Q11, but my point still stands...is it the first film sequel with 11 after the title?
If you read it that way. Its called "Quatermass II" because the plot revolves arround the Quatermass II experimental rocket. Not that its a sequel to The Quatermass Experiment.
 

Billy Batson

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If you read it that way. Its called "Quatermass II" because the plot revolves arround the Quatermass II experimental rocket. Not that its a sequel to The Quatermass Experiment.
I'm sure you're correct, it's been a while since I've seen it. I thought the plot revolved around that top secret government establishment/factory where very bad things are happening, there's not much about the rocket (does it take off at the end, I can't remember). The question still stands, is it the first? Anyway, the important thing is...will we ever get a decent HD version of this? I've seen it on the BBC, SD & 4x3, but the picture looked quite nice, there must be some good prints around somewhere.
 

JoshZ

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Well I've no doubt it was called Q11 because the original BBC TV serial was called Q11, but my point still stands...is it the first film sequel with 11 after the title?
According to this page, it was:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NumberedSequels

"The first use of a number in a sequel title was probably Quatermass 2 in 1957,note the follow-up to The Quatermass Xperiment.note These were the original UK titles; in the United States the first film was issued as The Creeping Unknown so the second one had to be retitled as well: it was known as Enemy From Space. However such instances were rare, at least before the 70s, because studios at the time felt that it attached a film to an earlier film to the extent of alienating potential audiences who may not have seen the earlier film and so feel discouraged from seeing a sequel titled "Part II" if they had not seen "Part I". It's why all the James Bond films were titled differently and not James Bond 1-20,note and why film-series such as the "Carry On" or the Pink Panther series often included "Pink Panther" but slight variations so as to not tie it exclusively. The first major film to change this was Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, Part II."
 

TonyD

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Wow, only took one post to put a huge spoiler in it for a movie that a lot of people might be seeing for the first time since it’s only coming to Blu-ray in the states for the first time. QatP needs to be seen without knowing that bit about the end.
 

TonyD

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Reads like a possible spoiler, here; as I have yet to see the film.
Yes it is. Can you remove that quote from your post since you said it might be a spoiler then put it in youown post.
 

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I think I just sent my blu-ray of the first film in a bag of things to Goodwill last week. I'll probably skip the other two.
 

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Shame about Quatermass 2 (is this the first sequel to just have 2 after the title?). I don't think of the first two films as b/w, more like b/grey. I'd like to see the print they used for the transfer, I think a print with a decent grey scale would have worked, but how many generations away from the original neg was this print? I hope a print with a good grey scale can be found in the UK.
Apparently from what I gather, the original plan was to use the 35mm composite fine-grain housed at the BFI, but due to damage in the latter part of the film it was decided to use a print.
I didn't realize at the time that the plan was to use the BFI source, which most likely would have yielded a lot more detail, it looks like that they're not planning on using any part of that transfer and instead going one hundred percent with the print source, pity.
 
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Billy Batson

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Yeah, in my days as a Telecine Colourist, I did plenty of b/w prints (SD) on both Rank Cintel & Sprit telecines, & got some lovely results, of course it all depends on the print you have to work from.
 

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Here's what George R. Reis at DVD Drive-in has to say about the print:

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray of QUATERMASS 2 had been delayed due to a search in locating proper film elements for a transfer, and the slightly postponed results are splendid. The film has been scanned in 2K from a pristine archival film print (with a “United Artists” logo but maintaining the original U.K. title), and it’s presented in 1080p HD. Despite the back cover listing the aspect ratio as full frame 1.37:1, it’s actually a more fitting 1.75:1, with the slight black bars on the sides of the screen. The near-flawless presentation (“pristine” as a print description does indeed apply here) has the elements beautifully restored, with nary a blemish to be found. Grain is tight, well-rendered and completely natural looking. Contrast is exceptional (even with the opening sequence looking a tad dark, as it always has), supported by a nicely modulated gray scale, while the image remains sharp throughout the presentation. Black levels are perfectly deep and white levels are stable and consistent.
 
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Douglas R

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There's a reason it's called "Quatermass II" and it has nothing to do with the fact that it's a sequel.
Nigel Kneale gave his reason for the title QUATERMASS II in his foreward to the publication of the TV script:

"It was an uninventive title, I felt, but I could find no better. The formula has become respectable in recent films, but I felt then that I had to justify it as referring not only to the new serial but also to Quatermass's doomed rocket-design"

Kneale had another dig at Brian Donlevy in the foreward, saying he "turned my troubled professor into a bawling bully".

For me, QUATERMASS II is the best, most inventive and ambitious of the TV serials. Unfortunately the feature film completely omits the dramatic mission into space which was the climax of the TV serial, presumably for budgetary reasons.
 
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