John Mills takes on the role of the alien hunting Professor Bernard Quatermass in this four part TV mini-series. The £1 million Euston Films production might be dated now – but it’s surprisingly entertaining.
This take on Nigel Kneale’s character sees Mills’ Quatermass in search of his missing grand-daughter who has become involved with an alien-worshipping cult called ‘The Planet People’. They believe they’ll be transported to a new, better world but Quatermass suspects that the aliens are anything but friendly.
Released in 1979, Quatermass feels like it was made at the tail end of the 1960s. The ‘Planet People’ are very clearly based on the hippy movement of the time. However, this type of cult doesn’t seem quite as relevant at the dawn of the 1980s, when the era of punk was in full flow. However, the post apocalyptic atmosphere for this science fiction drama adds a vital urgency to the whole story. At times there’s a grittiness to the space-age shenanigans, which adds impressive atmosphere to this TV drama, giving it a cinematic feel.
John Mills is an inspired choice in the casting department. He gives the character of Quatermass a world weary quality. However, he also injects a grandfatherly humanity into the role. He’s assisted by Simon MacCorkindale’s unlikely (but surprisingly rather effective) star-gazing sidekick.
A great piece of retro television, Quatermass is a prime piece of 1970s British science fiction. The show and character may not have the lasting iconography as Doctor Who – but this is a must for cult TV enthusiasts.
The Network blu-ray release includes restored HD visuals, a new 5.1 audio mix and music only tracks. A solid-touch-up for a long forgotten show.