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 Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth 
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 Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Is it possible that this classsic hasn't been mentioned in this forum yet? I remember some lengthy conversations about it on the old CDF board, and I'm pretty sure I remember it being discussed here too...

Anyway, this movie (which I only knew as "Five Million Years to Earth" as a kid was one of those all-time favorites of mine growing up. I'm hoping it will be released on some new DVD soon. I know it was pretty readily available for a while and then went out-of-print and pretty much disappeared. About four years ago a friend of mine rented it from Netflix and we watched it with another friend (all three of us watched CDF as kids and all of us loved "Five Million Years to Earth but hadn't seen it in years). Not long after that I tried to put it into my Netflix queue, only to have it added to me "Saved" queue because it wasn't available. It's been sitting there for a couple of years now. Copies can be found on eBay, but everyone seems to know that they're somewhat rare. They either start too high for me, or one that starts low will end up selling for a high price after the bidding wars end.

What prompted me to mention "Quatermass and the Pit"/"Five Million Years to Earth" now is that I've been going through some old audio tapes I made in the early 80s (before we got our first VCR). I'd tape all kinds of stuff off the TV thinking it was the only way to preserve it for future listening (obviously having no idea whatsoever that VHS tapes, DVDs and even online downloads would eventually make almost everything available). One of my tapes was of "Five million Years to Earth". It was labeled 3/31/84. I fiured that it was probably a channel 56 four o'clock movie or something. Wouldn't you know, it was actually an airing of Creature Feature?!? I've been researching the air dates for CDF/CF for a couple of years now and knew that the show went on in some form or other right up until 1985. Eventually I hope to make my findings available to everyone here at the board who's interested.

Anyway, I knew that channel 56 did indeed run "Five Million Years to Earth" on March 31, 1984 at noon (confirmed by reading old newspaper microfilm), but had no way to be sure whether it was as some form of CDF/CF. As it turns out, on the tape I was listening to I just happened to catch two Creature Feature bumpers (apparently voiced by Dale Dorman) AND the closing narration by Dorman (?) which confirmed without a doubt that it was from Creature. And get this, the closing part had ELP's Toccata playing too! Classic.

Alright, sorry to get sidetracked off the subject of the movie, but I just had to share that news.

And, by the way, I DON'T own this movie on DVD, but it seemed appropiate to put it here because as soon as I find an affordable copy, or as soon as a new release comes out, I WILL most certainly own it. And, I should also mention that when we watched it a few years ago it had really stood the test of time very well.



Here's the movie at IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062168/

And here's the entire movie (in little chunks of course) on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlQwBQZZuPg&feature=PlayList&p=82D73450F4E7132C&index=0&playnext=1

And a trailer:
http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3919380761/

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Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:06 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
You know, I think my first viewing of FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH was that screening in 1984.

Thanks for putting a date to my memory!

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Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:24 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
You're very welcome Mark. I'm thinking that I may have seen it at least once before this date--as I already knew it was something I'd want to tape the highlights of. At least I know that I DID watch it on this date...and that that viewing was of a Creature Feature on WLVI!

This movie just had so much in it to scare a kid back then. It was creepier than a straight-up monster movie because of the mystery and questions about what was happening. The mood is set right away with the skull and skeleton found in the subway construction area. Then ther's the whole mystery of just what the big thing they uncover is (is it an unexploded bomb, some German WWII secret weapon, a spaceship?), and of course the little green men (insects) they eventually find inside. And how's about the freaky energy waves (or whatever) that the ship gives off, burning some people to a crisp and driving others mad? There's even a pseudo-religious scariness to it--when the guy runs into the church yard and gets impaled by the cross/weathervane/lightning rod (don't exactly remember which) that comes off the church. That was weird... Even the brainwaves-turned-into-video portion, where they see what was going on on the aliens home planet was pretty creepy. Movies where people's minds get taken over always freaked me out ("Children of the Damned", "Village of the Damned"...). And in that sense, this movie ranks right up there, with the citizenry of London lurching around killing anyone who's "different". Of course, after all of this mysterious, creepy, scary stuff you finally have the grand finale--with the giant alien/devil's head hovering over the city and James Donald making the ultimate sacrifice and smashing right into this terrible visage while riding on a giant crane! :shock: I remember the discussion at the old message board about the giant head at the end and how almost everyone who saw it as a kid (myself included) saw it as the devil instead of a giant version of the insect-aliens. I was satisfied that it was indeed an alien head, but while listening to my tape I heard the stars mentioning that it was the devil's head and talking about how it would take a massive piece of metal to destroy the devil's head (or something like that). I guess it could be that the head represented both (the aliens' look and our own idea of the devil). Or perhaps this was the vision of the devil as seen by the aliens on their world? Either way, it was one of the scariest things I had ever seen in a movie!

I gotta see this movie again soon!

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Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:11 am
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Yes, we've discussed this classic here ... prompted by its viewing during my Summer of Creature Features 2008. To my embarrassment I mistyped it as QuaRtermass and was promptly and properly smacked down for it! LOL. I watched it about once a year since I've owned the DVD. I too knew it as "Five Million Years to Earth", and regard it as one of the most underrated sci-fi/horror films of all-time.

More importantly Col. Manning, I'm cheering to know that someone else made it a practice to make audio tapes pre-VCR! I've got so many OLD cassettes with complete movies I taped (like The Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, The Night Stalker, The Ten Commandments, The Wizard of Oz, etc etc) with my cassette recorder propped at the perfect angle as it sat in the top drawer of my chest that was of course used as a TV stand for my 19-inch Curtis Mathis!

I have entire cassettes with only TV theme songs; with the music from the fight scenes from the Batman series (providing a soundtrack for hours of battles with our Mego Action Figures ... a practice one uncle called "Clacking", lol); and of course a few football games.

I've been putting off making the necessary arrangement to set up my Mac to make digital copies of old cassettes, mostly because I fear digging those cassettes out and confronting the harsh reality that they are so old they now SCREETCH ... you know what I mean, I'm sure.

Crap ... having just wrote that last paragraph, I know I'm probably going to find myself digging for those cassettes the first free moment I have!

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:52 am
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Thanks Uncle POE, at least I know I'm not imagining things. I did a search for the movie on the board and nothing showed up. Now I remember that conversation in your thread. I wouldn't feel too bad about thinking the movie was "QuaRtermass and the Pit". After all, we all grew up knowing it as "Five Million Years to Earth". It wasn't until more recently that we found out it's real title. I know I thought it was Quartermass too, and at least one of my friends thought it was that also until I corrected him recently. I think when you see the name your mind just automatically adds the missing letter, because it LOOKS like it should be there. A bit of an optical illusion almost. Kind of like how our minds supposedly are able to automatically fill in the differences between two frames of film--allowing us to watch a movie as a fluid thing.

And, I have a feeling that quite a few people here were audiotapers back in the pre-VCR days. I remember the night my parents took me to Caldor's to buy my very first tape recorder (a General Electric model). It was March 17, 1981. Amazing that a kid could get so excited about having the simple ability to record sounds. Nowadays there's so many ways to record stuff (including video) for posterity that it doesn't seem as special (digital voice recorders, VCRs, DVD recorders, TiVo, capturing stuff on computer, digital cameras with film mode, cheap camcorders in many formats...). The late 70s/early 80s were the time just before all this stuff began to show up. Very early VCRs were around, but of course they were extremely expensive--and not realistic for most middle-class Americans. Obviously most of the regulars of this board who grew up watching CDF are of a similar age (late 30s/early40s) and grew up in that time. Therefore, I'll bet that quite a few of us spent many hours with our portable tape recorders pressed up to the speakers of our TVs and radios recording our favorite "stuff".

I also understand your fear of having those old tapes break down and not even work anymore (and yes, I do know what you mean about the "screeching"). I found a bunch of my old tapes in a gas mask bag. It's amazing to think that something I was taping as a kid is now a QUARTER-OF-A-CENTURY OLD!!! The realization of something like that can really make one feel old. Add to the age the fact that I never really knew anything about "archival protection" or anything like that for these tapes. They just sat around in piles and eventually ended up in various boxes and other storage places. AND, being a pre-teen with limited financial resources that were pretty much limited to what I'd get from my little paper route, I couldn't exactly afford the top of the line cassettes that were available back then. I'd buy packages of three no-name tapes from discount stores and flea markets whenever I could find them (don't forget I also had to pay for a constant supply of the cheapest "C" batteries that money could buy too). To expect these crappy tapes to last for 25-plus years is probably unreasonable. I've been pretty lucky so far though. They certainly don't sound great or anyhting, but most of them didn't sound all that great when they were new either (it's the same situation I encountered a few years later when I'd record in the slowest speed to maximize how much I could fit on a VHS tape--not thinking about how poor the quality would be in the future). Anyway, the biggest problem I've been finding with my old tapes so far has been that many of them have lost the little felt square that sits on the little metal piece right at the point where the tape runs over the record/play head (sorry for the technology-speak :wink: ). When I find one of these I don't even attempt to play it--for fear that it will ruin the tape. I'm hoping to salvage some old tapes that I may be able to find cheap at flea markets of yard sales, and take those little felt (or whatever they are) pieces off to glue onto my tapes.

Well, I suppose this conversation could have actually been a whole new thread ("What did you tape as a kid?"), but there it is. Now back to "Quatermass and the Pit".

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:53 am
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
To further derail the thread....

You can always take the tape out of one "square-less" cassette and put it into a newer shell, providing that the newer shell uses screws to hold it together. I've done this with numerous tapes and VHS cassettes and it gets them back into playable shape when some part of the plastic housing gets damaged.

And I also did a good amount of home recording on my Panasonic portable tape recorder as a kid. Taped a couple of TV theme songs and bits of THE BLUES BROTHERS, but mostly did little comedy sketches with my best friends at the time, and also some Dickie Goodman-esque bits ("interviewer" interviews someone who responds in clips from popular songs). Fun times in the stone age...

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:47 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Good suggestion about the tape surgery Mark. I've found (even back years ago whe I first used them) that some of the cheapest tapes I'd use would have a hard time moving in their cases--causing the tape player to either stop suddenly or (worse yet) to eat the tape when the take up side wouldn't roll. My simple solution has always been to loosen teh screws just enough to get the tape moving (and not so much that it falls apart). Not a good fix for the long run obviously.

As I've been going through these tapes I've been taping some of the more interesting highlights (Creature Feature bumpers, Dana Hersey Movie Loft stuff, various ads and promos from chanels 25, 38 and 56...) onto a new tape to make sure I'll have easy access to that stuff. Eventually it would be cool to be able to digitize some of the tapes to have a long-lasting archive, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon.

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:28 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
col manning glad you started this thread. i love this flick and can't wait for it to come back. i should have bought it as i would watch it non stop.

its amazing the film got made at all given the religious implications of the whole thing.

its a great concept and builds really well.

i hope they never remake it but i'm sure someone will.

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:59 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
There was an earlier serialized TV production of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT in the UK, made several years before the film we know and love. It was studio-bound and black and white, shown if 4 or 5 parts, I believe. This was released not long ago in the UK on DVD, but no sign of it here. Pretty interesting to see how the same story was told over a longer running time, and with limited visual resources. I managed to see this not long ago, and it was an interesting contrast to the film version.

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:37 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Wow, that would be cool to see. I knew that they had Quatermass TV shows in England. I actaully thought they had made some of the movies out of re-edited versions of hte TV shows. Knowing that the TV version of "Quatermass and the Pit" is a completely different production makes it a must see! Thanks Mark.

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:47 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Uncle POE wrote:
...To my embarrassment I mistyped it as QuaRtermass and was promptly and properly smacked down for it! LOL. snip


Guilty as charged. I was only trying to keep the forum mistake-free :wink: ...I used to think it was "Quarter" too :oops:

I think I got my Quatermass DVD from Amazon a few years ago. I got it new, but sometimes you can find people selling used copies as well. You might try eBay as well. Coincidentally, I watched part of it last night :)

I also did my share of audio taping as a kid. CDF, Star Trek, Lost in Space, 3 Stooges--stuff like that. I think the day I got my first VCR was the happiest day of my life!!!


Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:40 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Just a quick note --- I do have a VHS double-cassette version of the original "Quatermass and the Pit" ... and inspired by this talk (and given how many times I've now seen the feature film), I plan to watch it and make a DVD-R copy of it (if possible). If so, anyone interested in a copy, for the Uncle POE Bargain Price of Zippo, let me know. It won't be anything fancy ... just something awesome.

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Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:20 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Five Million Years to Earth was aired at least twice on CDF prior to 84..

It was on the 1pm showing and was never called "Quatermass" on the show.


Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:12 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
Actually, I just went through my listings of the movies and "Five million Years to Earth" was only shown once on CDF/CF when it was on "Creature Feature" on March 31, 1984. From September 1975 through June 1985 I have checked all the TV listings and put them all in a list. It used to be in Excel and I could search by title, but now it's in Google Docs and I either can't do that kind of search or I don't know how. I just went through the entire list one week at a time and couldn't find "Five Million Years to Earth" anywhere before 1984. The only date I don't have a title for is July 30, 1983 when the Worcester Telegram and the Boston Globe both listed the 2:30 movie simply as "Movie" without giving a title. I haven't been able to find a source that says what "movie" that was yet, so it could have been "Five Million Years to Earth". Also, the list I have is based on what films were in the TV listings. It's certainly possible that WLVI might have shown something different than what they had scheduled occasionally. Haven't heard of any examples of that, but how would one know? Finally, I DO know that "Five Million Years to Earth" was shown a couple of times after CDF on the WLVI Four O'Clock Movie.

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Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:53 pm
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 Re: Quatermass and the Pit aka Five Million Years to Earth
sigh

wish this was out on a legal dvd or blu ray release

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Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:33 am
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