This is a science fiction picture from the Hammer Studios over there in Britain, and you know what that means: I saw it on American Movie Classics. The hero of this story is a dude by the name of Quatermass who apparently stars in a bunch of movies and TV shows over there like Quatermass and the Pit, The Quatermass Experiment etc. No it’s not one of those weird shot on video shows they do marathons of on PBS when they need money. You’re thinking of dr. who and the red dwarf. What the FUCK is up with these college dudes that think that shit is funny? You know how they repeat the jokes in a phoney british accent I hate that man. Anyway I wouldn’t try to pull that shit on you don’t worry this is a whole different thing here, this Quatermass.
Quatermass is a college professor looking dude with the tweed suit and vest, bow tie and beard. He is not an action hero, everything he does is completely with the brains, I mean this guy is a real rocket scientist. And by rocket scientist I mean he is the type of scientist who studies rockets.
You see some of these British dudes find some apeman skeletons while excavating for a subway tunnel. Then they find something metal and I have NO clue why but they decide it must be a missile and call in famous rocket scientist Quatermass to have a look. It turns out it’s not a missile, it’s some kind of alien rocketship. Which is more his thing anyway in my opinion. This is what would be called an x-file right now but they didn’t have that word back then so they just called it a rocket.
What I like about this piece as compared to a modern science fiction horror type picture is the pacing. In today’s pictures you gotta have an opening scene where an alien kills somebody, then you got about 15-20 minutes introducing the various scientists, then you got the next alien killing, etc. But 5 Million Years To Earth builds tension slowly by following the study of the rocketship step by step. You see them digging up skeletons, finding the missile, uncovering it, trying to get inside, and slowly unpeeling layer after layer, coming up with new theories, looking for historical connections and clues. And the closer they get the more freaky ass shit starts to happen and when you finally get to the real good stuff it is a genuine payoff type event. You earned it.
Now before I compliment the scientific nature of this picture you gotta understand, I am not a fan of the science. I mean I have never understood these motherfuckers with the scientifical criticisms of movies. “Batman couldn’t really fall that fast judging from the width of the rope and the weight of the mask divided by wind speed, give or take atmospheric conditions. That is why I am boycotting this piece of shit movie and unless you are a moron I suggest you do the same.” Thank GOD I went to a public school and never learned too much about that shit, and can instead enjoy my true passion, the art and imagination of the Cinema.
But still this Quatermass and the other scientists in this picture, I like how they don’t have to do any silly action sequences. They just use the science and the brains to save the day. In fact it is the warriors who are wrong – the military – they actually think this thing is German propaganda and they’re dead wrong, the fuckers. This movie really glamourizes the power of the scientific mind, the intelligence over the brute strength. Well except all this crap wouldn’t have happened at all if the scientists would’ve just left the rocketship alone, but what can you do man.
The story isn’t predictable. The eventual catastrophe sure as fuck isn’t the type of thing I expected when I first saw them apeman bones at the beginning. I mean this is a good picture in my opinion bravo to this Quatermass.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.