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FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-spoiler) [message #117584] Mon, 23 September 2013 18:22 Go to next message
leeper is currently offline  leeper
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Message-ID: <491@ahuta.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 22-Feb-85 11:37:58 EST
Article-I.D.: ahuta.491
Posted: Fri Feb 22 11:37:58 1985
Date-Received: Tue, 26-Feb-85 06:33:07 EST
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Xref: watmath net.movies:5775 net.sf-lovers:6377

Somebody on the net asked me to give a synopsis of this film, which I
have called the best science fiction film I have ever seen.  Some of
the parts of the film are a bit crypt, but are clearer in the play
which was shown at Seacon and is available in paperback.  Here goes:

FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (Brit. QUATERMASS AND THE PIT)
Hammer films 1968, Dir. by Roy Ward Baker. Scr by Nigel Kneale based on
his tv-play "Quatermass and the Pit."  Cast: Andrew Kier (Bernard
Quatermass), James Donald (Dr. Matthew Roney), Barbara Shelley (Barbara
Judd).

London Transit is digging a subway tunnel at Hobbs End.  They find
fossils of man's early ancestors.  Dr. Matthew Roney is called in to
investigate the fossils and in the process finds a large craft buried
in the ground near the five million year old fossils.  Thinking that
what was found might be a German V-weapon, they call in Col. Breen, a
former expert on enemy missiles and now in the process of taking over
Quatermass's rocket group.  Quatermass, driven by curiosity, goes with
Breen to the site of the excavations and realizes that if the fossils
are 5 million years old, so is the craft.  Hobbs end has been known
from time immemorial, it turns out, for weird supernatural events,
particularly when the earth has been disturbed.

The army, with much trouble, is able to bore a hole into the inner
chamber found in the craft, and inside they find insect-like
inhabitants.  Quatermass theorizes that they are from Mars and that
they had altered the apes whose fossils were found into evolving toward
intelligent humans.  A driller hired by the army to open the craft is
removing his equipment when he seems possessed by some force.  He runs
mindlessly through the streets causing telekinetic destruction and
takes refuge in a churchyard.  Quatermass is called in by the vicar and
hears the driller babbling about seeing scenes of another world.  His
description seems to be of a race purge of mutants.  Quatermass
theorizes that the telekinetic powers and the hatred of anyone
different were invested in us by the aliens and were always with us
more or less dormant.  The craft has the power to reawaken them in us.

Quatermass together with Roney rig up a device to record his mental
images and Quatermass tries to repeat the drillers actions so the ship
will have the same effect on him.  Instead the craft takes over Roney's
assistant and Quatermass records her mental images.  The minister of
defense, angered by Quatermass earlier telling the press that the craft
might have been of alien design, calls Quatermass in on the carpet. 
He shows them the pictures he has recorded from the assistant's mind of
a mutant hunt.  They are unconvinced, believing Breen's explanation
that the craft is German.  The minister opens the craft site to the
press.

The night that the press is running a tv show from the craft site, a
man setting up lighting in the craft slips and somehow reactivates the
craft fully.  The vast majority of London is taken over to become
mindless telekinetics bent on wiping out anything that might be a
variation in the human genetic strain.  Quatermass himself become part
of the hunt.  Roney is among the very few who are immune to the mental
control exerted by the capsule.  Seeing Quatermass in the crowd he
pulls him out and with a great deal of effort, gets Quatermass's mind
working again.  The capsule which has now turned London into
effectively a alien colony.  Exerting this effort it is turning its
own mass into energy.  The broadcast energy forms a column with the
capsule changes into the satan-like shape of a alien.  Roney realizes
that the nature of the energy column is electrical.  He reasons that
the legends of the Devil's enemy being iron had a basis in fact.  These
alien images that used to be interpretted as ghosts and demons are
electrical and people holding iron swords grounded them out.

Roney sees a large crane by the capsule site, and his assistant being
carried by the crowd.  He sends Quatermass to grab the assistant and
also to get him out of the way.  He climbs the crane and swings it into
the column of energy, electricuting himself but grounding out the
column.  The instant the column is grounded, the alien mental control
ends and things start returning to normal.
Re: Five Million Years to Earth [message #117658 is a reply to message #117584] Mon, 23 September 2013 18:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anonymous
Karma:
Originally posted by: @RUTGERS.ARPA:Slocum.CSCDA@HI-MULTICS.ARPA
Message-ID: <811@topaz.ARPA>
Date: Wed, 27-Feb-85 12:42:16 EST
Article-I.D.: topaz.811
Posted: Wed Feb 27 12:42:16 1985
Date-Received: Fri, 1-Mar-85 06:03:12 EST
Sender: daemon@topaz.ARPA
Organization: Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
Lines: 11

From: Slocum@HI-MULTICS.ARPA

I have seen 'FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH' a couple times on TV,
but I would hardly classify it as one of the best SF movies I've
seen.  It doesn't really hold a candle to many films mentioned
previously.  I thought it was more like a Horror film, a genre for
which I don't really care. (Boy, sometimes it's hard not to end a
sentence with a preposition).  Yes, it had some interesting ideas,
but hardly enough to justify 'Best SF Flick'.

Brett Slocum (Slocum@HI-MULTICS)
Re: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-s [message #118641 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anonymous
Karma:
Originally posted by: steve@siemens.UUCP
Message-ID: <24700005@siemens.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 1-Mar-85 12:45:00 EST
Article-I.D.: siemens.24700005
Posted: Fri Mar  1 12:45:00 1985
Date-Received: Sat, 2-Mar-85 05:14:19 EST
References: <491@ahuta.UUCP>
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Nf-ID: #R:ahuta:-49100:siemens:24700005:000:807
Nf-From: siemens!steve    Mar  1 12:45:00 1985


Five Million Years to Earth is a HORRIBLE film!!  It's one of those schlock
things where the scientist sees something inexplicable, dreams up a 
ridiculous (i.e. almost totally unsupported by evidence) explanation for it,
and this explanation is taken as fact for
the rest of the movie.  Movies like this spread more wrong ideas about science
than creationism!  (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little...)  If it
were about the occult it would be a pseudo-science fiction film.  Perhaps it
should be called an anti-science fiction film?  In fact, the more I think
about this, the more I like the connection with creationism.  The 'science'
in a movie like this is very much like the 'science' in creationism -- based
on nonunderstanding of what science is really about, based on jumping to
conclusions, etc.
Re: Five Million Years to Earth [message #118664 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
leeper is currently offline  leeper
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Message-ID: <510@ahutb.UUCP>
Date: Sat, 2-Mar-85 11:31:46 EST
Article-I.D.: ahutb.510
Posted: Sat Mar  2 11:31:46 1985
Date-Received: Sun, 3-Mar-85 07:29:49 EST
References: <811@topaz.ARPA>
Organization: AT&T Information Systems Labs, Holmdel NJ
Lines: 27

REFERENCES:  <811@topaz.ARPA>


 >I have seen 'FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH' a couple times on
 >TV, but I would hardly classify it as one of the best SF
 >movies I've seen.  It doesn't really hold a candle to many
 >films mentioned previously.  
 
Obviously these are matters of taste.  I like a science fiction film
with a strong idea.  Something that takes some thinking about.  I can
think of no other science fiction film that I find so thought
provoking.  I will also add that I know a lot of people who rate this
film at least in their top five.

 >I thought it was more like a Horror film, a genre for which I
 >don't really care.  
 
Odd, I see very little horror element in the film.  Less than in
ANDROMEDA STRAIN.
 
 >Yes, it had some interesting ideas, but hardly enough to
 >justify 'Best SF Flick'.  

What are your criteria for "best" then?

				Mark Leeper
				...ihnp4!ahutb!leeper
Re: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-s [message #118690 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
leeper is currently offline  leeper
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Message-ID: <515@ahutb.UUCP>
Date: Sun, 3-Mar-85 23:27:09 EST
Article-I.D.: ahutb.515
Posted: Sun Mar  3 23:27:09 1985
Date-Received: Tue, 5-Mar-85 02:45:52 EST
References: <491@ahuta.UUCP>, <24700005@siemens.UUCP>
Organization: AT&T Information Systems Labs, Holmdel NJ
Lines: 80

REFERENCES:  <491@ahuta.UUCP>, <24700005@siemens.UUCP>

 >Five Million Years to Earth is a HORRIBLE film!!  It's one
 >of those schlock things where the scientist sees something
 >inexplicable, dreams up a  ridiculous (i.e.  almost totally
 >unsupported by evidence) explanation for it, and this
 >explanation is taken as fact for the rest of the movie.
 >Movies like this spread more wrong ideas about science than
 >creationism!  (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little...)  If
 >it were about the occult it would be a pseudo-science
 >fiction film.  Perhaps it should be called an anti-science
 >fiction film?  In fact, the more I think about this, the
 >more I like the connection with creationism.  The 'science'
 >in a movie like this is very much like the 'science' in
 >creationism -- based on nonunderstanding of what science is
 >really about, based on jumping to conclusions, etc.

Got that out of your system?  Good!  I do hope you are feeling better.

I agree that what goes on in this film is not like what real scientists
do.  But why is that?  Roney and Quatermass approach their observations
and draw the most likely conclusions.  This is very much what
scientists do or should do.  The reason what they do is in character
very different than what your run-of-the-mill scientist is that they
are encountering a very different chain of evidence than probably
occurs in the real world.  You expect that, this is science fiction.
And as far as science fiction goes, the chain of evidence is not all
that improbable, given the premise.  Kneale has only one assumtion
in the 1960 TV play on which the film was based.  That is basically the
same premise of 2001.  The premise is that the reason apes evolved into
humans was through alien intervention.  (The difference with 2001 was
in how the idea was handled.  Clarke took the idea and said "It's going
to happen again."  Kneale took the premise and said "How are we
different than we would be had we evolved ourselves?  What evidence
might still be around in the ground and in the human mind that we had
been intentionally altered?") 

Given the evidence I cannot think of any time in the film when
Quatermass or Roney jump to a wild conclusion when there is another
that is simpler AND more convincing.  Faced with the evidence that the
only five million year old skeletons found intact were inside a
constructed craft there are not a whole lot of simple conclusions to
draw.  That fact alone is inconsistant with our current understanding
of the origins of intelligence.  I know the script quite well and I
never found a conclusion they drew to seem wild to me.  Perhaps you can
give an example or too where the reasoning of the characters is wild
IN THE LIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED.

You do well to compare the premise of this film with creationism.  This
is a science fiction film whose premise concerns the origin of the
species human.  Creationism and evolution do also.  This film simply
plays with a third origin theory.  That is what good science fiction
does, play with theories.  In that way it is like creationism.  Where
it differs is that it admits to being fiction.  It tells the viewer to
play with the idea in his/her own mind for the sake of playing with the
idea.  It does not tell the viewer to believe the idea.  I am sure that
Nigel Kneale would have nothing but dismay if some cult were to be
formed believing the origin theory in FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH.

I am a little dismayed by your use of the phrase "If [the film] were
about the occult..."  Among other things this film certainly is about
the occult.  It is about a good deal more than that, but one of the
things this film concerns is the occult.  The occult occurences are (in
the context of the film) exaggerated explanations of phenomena caused
by the alien ships in their functioning to control the descendents of
the altered apes.  It is actually a clever idea since there appears to
be a lot of reported occurences of occult phenomean over the ages to
tie it in with Kneale's premise.  That doesn't mean that Kneale really
believes in occult phenomena but it nicely unifies two apparently
disassociated fields and makes the idea that much more engaging.

Oh, and as to whether scientist really do what Quatermass and Roney do,
on top of what I have previously said, let me ask you to perform a
little experiment for me.  Go to the yellow pages, find a private
investigator, call him and ask him how similar his work is to what goes
on in "Hound of the Baskervilles."  Or do you consider this to be
another HORRIBLE work of fiction?

				Mark Leeper
				...ihnp4!ahutb!leeper
Re: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-s [message #118789 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anonymous
Karma:
Originally posted by: steve@siemens.UUCP
Message-ID: <24700006@siemens.UUCP>
Date: Fri, 8-Mar-85 09:59:00 EST
Article-I.D.: siemens.24700006
Posted: Fri Mar  8 09:59:00 1985
Date-Received: Sun, 10-Mar-85 06:34:03 EST
References: <491@ahuta.UUCP>
Lines: 80
Nf-ID: #R:ahuta:-49100:siemens:24700006:000:4318
Nf-From: siemens!steve    Mar  8 09:59:00 1985


I recently made a rather unintelligible flaming response to Mark Leeper's
note about his favorite sf film "Five Million Years to Earth".  This note
is an attempt to clarify and defend that flame.

I saw "Five Million Years to Earth" quite some time ago, and I don't
remember it too well.  I remember mostly the hoaky and/or silly special
effects like the giant devil-insect ghost at the end and the melting
aliens and a few others.  I also remember thinking the movie was pretty
dumb.  So I had to rely mainly on Mark Leeper's spoiler to jog my memory.

Mark's spoiler:
"The army, with much trouble, is able to bore a hole into the inner chamber
found in the craft, and inside they find insect-like inhabitants.  Quarter-
mass theorizes that they are from Mars and that they had altered the apes
whose fossils were found into evolving toward intelligent humans."

Mark's comment to me:
"Given the evidence I cannot think of any time in the film when Quartermass
or Roney jump to a wild conclusion when there is another that is simpler
AND more convincing."

So anytime an extraterrestrial craft that is 5 million years old is found,
the simplest, most convincing explanation is that the aliens are from Mars
and they altered apes into evolving toward intelligent humans.  A much more
complex and unconvincing explanation is that we don't know where they came
from and their reason for being on Earth probably had nothing to do with the
apes.

GGGGIIIIIIVVVVVVVEEEEE MMMMEEEE AAAA BBBRRRREEEEEAAAAKKKK!!!!!!

My swiss cheese memory and Mark's spoiler offer no evidence for Quartermass
to believe the aliens were from Mars, and no evidence that they had anything
to do with the apes except being on Earth at the same time.  Perhaps there
was something in the movie or in the play to justify these conclusions, but
I don't remember and Mark didn't mention it.  Afterwards, evidence appears to
support these wild conclusions, and this is the heart of what I was sputtering
and flaming about:  crappy "sf" movies often have a scientist make a wild
conclusion and later provide evidence to support it.  (I ineloquently
phrased this as "...and this explanation is taken for fact for the rest of
the movie.").

There is another example.  Mark's spoiler:
"Quartermass ... hears the driller babbling about seeing scenes from another
world.  His description seems to be of a race purge of mutants.  Quartermass
theorizes that the telekinetic powers and the hatred of anyone different
were invested in us by the aliens and were always with us more or less
dormant.  The craft has the power to reawaken them in us."

There is no evidence that the telekinetic powers were always with us more
or less dormant.  There is no evidence that hatred of anyone different was
invested in us by the aliens; it may be a trait that we and
the aliens share, to different degrees.  In fact, I kind of remember even
the part about the "description seems to be of a race purge of mutants" to
have been something like (I admit to exaggeration):

Driller: Thousands of weird aliens being driven out!  They're being killed!
         All sorts of havoc and destruction!
Quartermass: Was it some sort of racial purge of mutants?  Tell me!
Driller: Babble babble yes!

I think you probably get the idea of what I am flaming at.  Scientist makes
wild, unfounded conclusion which is later supported by evidence not available
at the time the conclusion is made.  Please forgive me if I am wrong about
this movie, and I simply don't remember supporting evidence.  I'm pretty
sure I would remember, though.

By the way, this business about mutants brings up another pet peeve of mine,
that science fiction authors and readers generally know very little about
biology and seldom understand mutation or evolution.  Systematically killing
off all abnormal individuals would be an anti-survival trait if you accept
the theory of evolution.  (Small quibble in this movie; someday I'll flame on
about this one when a better (worse) example comes up.)

In conclusion, I maintain that unless I remember totally wrong, the "science"
put forth in this film is worse than useless.  However, if I could get that
out of my mind, I think I might agree with Mark that the film presents a
number of very interesting ideas worth thinking about.

ihnp4!princeton!siemens!steve
Re: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-spoiler) [message #118806 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 24 September 2013 14:36 Go to previous message
leeper is currently offline  leeper
Messages: 122
Registered: June 2013
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Message-ID: <547@ahutb.UUCP>
Date: Sun, 10-Mar-85 09:25:04 EST
Article-I.D.: ahutb.547
Posted: Sun Mar 10 09:25:04 1985
Date-Received: Mon, 11-Mar-85 23:46:02 EST
References: <491@ahuta.UUCP>, <24700006@siemens.UUCP>
Organization: AT&T Information Systems Labs, Holmdel NJ
Lines: 163

REFERENCES:  <491@ahuta.UUCP>, <24700006@siemens.UUCP>

 >I saw "Five Million Years to Earth" quite some time ago, and
 >I don't remember it too well.  I remember mostly the hoaky
 >and/or silly special effects like the giant devil-insect
 >ghost at the end and the melting aliens and a few others.  
 
"In matters of taste... etc."  I didn't think the effects were too bad.
I am not fond of the memory video-tape sequence.  I did like the energy
column at the end, which you don't like."  In any case, I like the film
for its ideas, not its effects.
 
 >
 >Mark's spoiler: "The army, with much trouble, is able to
 >bore a hole into the inner chamber found in the craft, and
 >inside they find insect-like inhabitants.  Quartermass

I did not call him "Quartermass."  The name is "Quatermass" with one
"r".  Of course it is easy to look at something and not really see
what's there.

 >theorizes that they are from Mars and that they had altered
 >the apes whose fossils were found into evolving toward
 >intelligent humans."
 >
 >Mark's comment to me: "Given the evidence I cannot think of
 >any time in the film when Quartermass or Roney jump to a
 >wild conclusion when there is another that is simpler AND
 >more convincing."
 >
 >So anytime an extraterrestrial craft that is 5 million years
 >old is found, the simplest, most convincing explanation is
 >that the aliens are from Mars 
 
The physical characteristics of the aliens implied a lower gravity and
a thinner atmosphere than Earth's.  Mars was a logical guess and the
only location within our solar system that matched the physical
characteristics of the aliens.  I think that is pretty good evidence
and is no more far-fetched than logical conclusions drawn in many
scientific investigations.
 
 >and they altered apes into evolving toward intelligent humans.

This is really the result of more complex evidence.  The apes found at
the site fit into the recognized flow of evolution except that their
braincases were unaccountably much larger than than their immediate
predecessors on the evolutionary tree.  The connection of the apes to
the craft was explained in my previous mailing.  The best protected of
them were the ones inside the craft, hence they were contemporaries.
The coincidence of the braincases and the alien visitation at the same
time leads one to believe the two were connected.  As I remember one of
the scientists is uneasy about this connection.  In either the film or
the play, probably both, Roney refers to coincidence as a breeder of
false theories.  It is a good line.  There is further evidence, more
abstract and later on, in that the latent telekinetic capabilities of
current humans seems to be tied into the alien craft in some unclear
manner.  There seems to be more going on in the initial contact than
just a passing noticing of each other.

 >A much more complex and  
 >unconvincing explanation is that we don't know where they
 >came from and their reason for being on Earth probably had
 >nothing to do with the apes.

Based on the above, yes.  "We don't know where they came from" is not
an explanation of anything.  It is an obvious step to try to work out
where they could have come from, and the best evidence points to Mars.

 >
 >GGGGIIIIIIVVVVVVVEEEEE MMMMEEEE AAAA BBBRRRREEEEEAAAAKKKK!!!!!!
 >
 >My swiss cheese memory and Mark's spoiler offer no evidence
 >for Quartermass to believe the aliens were from Mars, and no
 >evidence that they had anything to do with the apes except
 >being on Earth at the same time.  
 
I hope the above is helpful.
 
 >Perhaps there was
 >something in the movie or in the play to justify these
 >conclusions, but I don't remember and Mark didn't mention
 >it.  Afterwards, evidence appears to support these wild
 >conclusions, 
 
At the time Mars is guessed they already have the braincase evidence
and the physical structure of the aliens.  They do not mention the
conclusion that the aliens altered the humans until after the
telekinetic evidence also shows up.  Nigel Kneale is a craftsman and
sweats the details.  If you went to Seacon you saw in what high regard
British fans hold him (for very good reason, in my opinion).
 
 >and this is the heart of what I was sputtering
 >and flaming about:  crappy "sf" movies often have a
 >scientist make a wild conclusion and later provide evidence
 >to support it.  (I ineloquently phrased this as "...and this
 >explanation is taken for fact 
 
More taken as an operational theory.  An when Quatermass tells anyone
about it, he qualifies everything he says with "If I'm right...".

 >for the rest of the movie.").
 >
 >There is another example.  Mark's spoiler: "Quartermass ...
 >hears the driller babbling about seeing scenes from another
 >world.  His description seems to be of a race purge of
 >mutants.  Quartermass theorizes that the telekinetic powers
 >and the hatred of anyone different were invested in us by
 >the aliens and were always with us more or less dormant.
 >The craft has the power to reawaken them in us."
 >
 >There is no evidence that the telekinetic powers were always
 >with us more or less dormant.  
 
Except that there have been reported cases of it for many years.
Why do you think we already have a word for it?  This film takes the
claims of telekinetic power and treats them as scientific
observations.
 
 >There is no evidence that
 >hatred of anyone different was invested in us by the aliens;
 >it may be a trait that we and the aliens share, to different
 >degrees.  
 
I probably agree with you here, since there could be an instinctive
basis for it, but since it shows up in both races, Quatermass concludes
that it is more than coincidence.
 
 >In fact, I kind of remember even the part about
 >the "description seems to be of a race purge of mutants" to
 >have been something like (I admit to exaggeration):
 >
 >Driller: Thousands of weird aliens being driven out!
 >They're being killed!
 >         All sorts of havoc and destruction!  Quartermass:
 >Was it some sort of racial purge of mutants?  Tell me!
 >Driller: Babble babble yes!

No, I don't think he asked Sladden, the driller, to draw any
conclusions.  Sladden just describes what he sees.

 >
 >I think you probably get the idea of what I am flaming at.
 >Scientist makes wild, unfounded conclusion which is later
 >supported by evidence not available at the time the
 >conclusion is made.  
 
And I agree with the idea of your flame, but I think this was not a
film it really applied to.  I can think of no other science fiction
film in which I think this complex a conclusion is so well reasoned.
 
 >In conclusion, I maintain that unless I remember totally
 >wrong, the "science" put forth in this film is worse than
 >useless.  
 
I think where the film presents science, it is reasonable.  Where it
presents scientific method it is good.  But for the most part it
presents speculation and for that I consider the best science fiction
film I remember ever seeing.  They conclusions it draws are a good
distance from our understanding of how things are, but the chain of
evidence makes the film plausible.

				Mark Leeper
				...ihnp4!ahutb!leeper
Re: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (super-s [message #119806 is a reply to message #117584] Tue, 12 March 1985 08:59 Go to previous message
Anonymous
Karma:
Originally posted by: steve@siemens.UUCP
Article-I.D.: siemens.24700007
Posted: Tue Mar 12 08:59:00 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 13-Mar-85 01:14:36 EST
References: <491@ahuta.UUCP>
Lines: 13
Nf-ID: #R:ahuta:-49100:siemens:24700007:000:339
Nf-From: siemens!steve    Mar 12 08:59:00 1985


Well, you sure told me!

I remember that when I saw Quatermass (see, only one R) and the Pit,
I thought it was yet another scientist-makes-wild-conclusions movie,
and Mark's spoiler actually supported that memory.

I stand corrected.

-Steve Clark

ps. I still loathe those odious movies, but I have to remove this one
from that category.
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