Quartermass and the Pit (1967)
Nigel Kneale was one of the finest screenwriters for filmed and televised science fiction films in British history, and his crowning glory was undoubtedly the later filmed BBC series starring Professor Bernard Quatermass. Comes more than a decade later The Quartermass Experiment (1955) and quarter mass 2 (1957), Quartermass and the Pit (also known as Five million years to earth) was the most satisfying and expansive of the three films, blending sci-fi, horror, folklore and religion into a breathtaking thriller that stretches back to mankind’s origins while threatening its future.
When an unidentified object is discovered beneath a London Underground station, Quatermass (an excellent Andrew Keir) and his collaborators discover it is a long-buried Mars spacecraft, unearthed millions of years ago in an attempt to find the to colonize Earth crashed. When the device is accidentally reactivated by the military, it resumes its mission, resurrecting long-dormant Martian genes implanted in then-primitive humans and turning them into killing machines aimed at wiping out people who have suffered the Martian genes. DNA is absent. Scary from the start, full of stunning ideas and spooky images. Quartermass and the Pit is not only one of the best of its decade, but one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.
To be clear: director Roger Vadim Barbarella is not a particularly good film, especially in terms of the script, direction and some of the actors. However, it is notable for its attempt to bring a classic French comics character to the screen, for its often amazing production design, and for the sheer, unbridled sexual firepower that Jane Fonda brings to the title role.
Fonda weaves her way through the film with a combination of naivety and intense carnality, aided by her skimpy but flashy costumes. While the film’s sexual politics may be dated, there’s never a feeling that Fonda or the good-natured Barbarella are being exploited. That and the film’s psychedelic imagery are just enough to keep the viewer hooked, despite the film’s many other flaws. campy and cheesy, Barbarella is a chore, an acquired taste, and a basket of pleasures—often all at the same time.
The Force (1968)
The last collaboration between producer George Pal and director Byron Haskin (and his last film), The power is a sometimes confusing but gripping adaptation of a Frank M. Robinson novel in which a team of scientists discovers that one of them is secretly a super being who uses immense telepathic powers to slaughter them one by one and keep them safe his anonymity.
George Hamilton (Dracula in Love at first bite) stars as Jim Tanner, one of the scientists whose personal and public background is eerily erased as he grows closer to discovering the true identity of the mutant known only as Adam Hart. The script can be hard to follow and the pacing can be slow, but the excellent music by Miklos Rozsa, the chilling way the mutant uses everyday objects to torment people (like pedestrian signs, toys and even a door stuck in a wall disappearing) and the concept of a frightening new turn in human evolution The power a little-noticed little gem.