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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Quatermass and the Pit [Blu-ray]

 

(Roy Ward Baker, 1967)

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions

Video: Optimum / Studio Canal

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:37:52.533

Disc Size: 46,293,785,423 bytes

Feature Size: 28,482,760,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.95 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 10th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• New UK exclusive interviews in 1080i with Julian Glover (28:27), Mark Gatiss (19:14), Judith Kerr (17:11), Kim Newman (29:30) and Marcus Hearn (12:24)
Audio commentary with Nigel Kneale and Roy Ward Baker
World of Hammer – Sci-Fi Episode (24:35 in 1080i)
Alternate US Credits (:26 in 1080P) + Alternate Us Trailer (2:32 in 1080P)

Trailer (2:29 in 1080i)
Interview with Joe Dante (11:05 in 1080i)

DVD of the Feature

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Hobbs End, Knightsbridge, London. Whilst working on a new subway tunnel for the London Underground a group of construction workers uncover a strangely shaped skull amongst the rubble. Nearby is another discovery: a large, mysterious and impenetrable metal object. Initially mistaken for an unexploded bomb the origins of the object and its strange power are far more horrific and terrifying than anybody could have possibly imagined. Is it of this earth? Could it be the ancestral link to mankind’s evolution? Or could it be an ancient link to unleashing ultimate evil? There’s only one man capable of unravelling the clues, his name is Professor Bernard Quatermass, a man of science who thrives on the dark mysteries of the world, a man with answers.

Written by legendary screenwriter Nigel Kneale, Quatermass and The Pit is a seminal British sci-fi classic. Highly influential, it’s renowned for its creepy plot and eerie, disturbing atmosphere. There is nothing else like it.

 

 

The Film:

A Hammer Horror film about an alien invasion may sound old fashioned today, but Quatermass And The Pit is something else. A tale whose central premise is solidified by reference to myth, it has itself developed a solidity that stands the test of time - it is an old tale, with all the weight that implies, rather than a dated one. Its several retellings have contributed to the curious sense that one is observing differing accounts of real events, adding to its power. Though this isn't the strongest version, it is nevertheless compulsive viewing.

Excerpt from Jennie Kermode at Eye for Film located HERE

Nigel Kneale's Quatermass TV series spawned a brief film series produced over an eleven-year period; 1967's Quatermass... and the Pit, released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth, was the third and (until 1979's Quatermass Conclusion) last. As in previous chapters in the Kneale saga, the film begins with a baffling scientific discovery. This time it's a bunch of prehistoric skulls, discovered during a subway excavation in the heart of London. Sequestered in a lab, the skulls start to emanate a bizarre force over the populace, resulting in death and destruction. Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) concludes that the skulls are the residue of an extraterrestrial invading army -- a theory which (as usual) is scoffed at by the authorities until it's almost too late. Blessed with superb special effects and an expertly sustained tension level, Quatermass and the Pit is easily the best of the short-lived Quatermass series.

~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide.

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Outstanding video quality on Optimum's Blu-ray of Quatermass and the Pitt - a pure Hammer gem. The image is extremely impressive with a spotless, crisp presentation that supports depth and excellent color balance.  This is another remarkable Hammer film put to Blu-ray with fabulous results - the first was Paranoiac - a Eureka video transfer.  What I like about Quatermass is the fine sheen of textured grain - it is so consistent it reminds me of a Blue Underground HD rendering. It's incredible how sharp some of the close-ups are - credit to the source and adept dual-layered rendering with a high bitrate. Really, this is as good as I have seen from this genre and period in HD. I've already shown the 1.66:1 transfer to friends - to demo the high quality. Fab!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The lossless audio comes on the form of a linear PCM 2.0 channel stereo track at 2304 kbps. There isn't a lot going on with effects in the film and the original music by Tristram Cary - who did some 60's Dr. Who stuff - is sparingly used. So depth comes into play in the final scenes but otherwise we have a dialogue-built suspense where the pauses help the minimalist-induced chills. I think it works. Optimum have included optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked disc.

 

Extras :

Stacks of supplements which include over 1.5 hours of new exclusive interviews in 1080i with Julian Glover (28:27), Mark Gatiss (19:14), Judith Kerr (17:11), Kim Newman (29:30) and Marcus Hearn (12:24). There is the pre-existing audio commentary with Nigel Kneale and Roy Ward Baker and World of Hammer – Sci-Fi Episode found on older SD editions. I enjoyed the 11-minutes with Joe Dante - another fan of the genre and we also get the Alternate US Credits, a couple of trailers in HD and the package includes a DVD of the Feature.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
If I had been able to see and review this Blu-ray prior to our year-end poll - I would have definitely given Quatermass and the Pitt some deserved 'love'. This is filled with Hammer charm, has a stupendous transfer, and is loaded with good quality extras! For those keen on this type of entertainment - this is an encouraging endorsement! 

Gary Tooze

January 15th, 2011

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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