Quatermass And The Pit (1967 D: Roy Ward Baker, W: Nigel Kneale)
I am obsessed with the Quatermass series. Massively influential in the UK, the series jump-started British televised science fiction (it originally aired as BBC serials) and Hammer Films, who adapted the serials into feature films. This is the absolute highlight of the series, about an often cranky, aging British scientist played by Andrew Keir (Brian Donlevy played him as an American in the first two films, although they were still set in Britain), Professor Bernard Quatermass. When a large, strange metallic object is discovered buried in the London Underground, efforts to uncover it are thwarted by strange energy emissions and erratic behavior. Quatermass deduces it to be a Martian spacecraft, buried thousands of years ago. The movie’s DNA can be found in many later films, and, of course, Doctor Who episodes. Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers is a pretty straight rip of the storyline. John Carpenter’s subtle Prince of Darkness — one of my favorite films — was written by Carpenter as “Martin Quatermass” and uses substantial tropes developed by Quatermass Nigel Kneale. Kneale’s worth digging into — his BBC movie The Stone Tape is a cool little ghost story.