Workers building an extension to the London Underground dig up an unusual skull. Palaeontologist Doctor Matthew Roney (James Donald) believes it is that of a five-million-year-old ape-man. They also find what they think is an unexploded World War Two bomb and they clear the area. Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir) learns that his plans for a moon colony have been taken over by the military to set up missiles in space. Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) is assigned to the Experimental Rocket Group, much to Quatermass’s disgust. Another skull is found, and the so-called bomb is, Quatermass believes, of alien origin.

Doctor Roney’s assistant Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley) visits the site with Quatermass. A policeman tells them the house across the street is haunted and they investigate. Barbara is intrigued by its popular name—Hob—which is an old name for the Devil. A member of the bomb-disposal team sees an image of the ape-man. It turns out that people have seen such visions there for centuries.

An attempt to open a sealed chamber with a drill fails, but a hole appears later. The hole widens to reveal dead, three-legged, insectoid creatures with horned heads, which they think come from Mars. The team reveals its theory to the Press, getting in trouble with the government. Quatermass believes that creatures from a dying Mars, unable to live on Earth either, enhanced the intelligence of terrestrial hominids.

The driller, Sladden (Duncan Lamont), is overcome by a psychic force and becomes telekinetic. He describes visions of an insectoid horde under an alien sky. Quatermass is affected too. Streets and buildings are torn up and an image of a Martian—or the Devil—towers over the city. Doctor Roney recalls legends of the Devil being defeated by iron and water, climbs a crane, and swings it into the spectre. He is killed, but the image vanishes.

Produced by Hammer Films, this was the sequel to the Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass 2, based on a BBC Television serial written by Nigel Kneale. It was directed by Roy Ward Baker. The story is mostly faithful to the original production. It was written in 1961, but disinterest on the part of American co-financers delayed it until 1967. Reviews were good and it remains highly regarded science-fiction. Hammer Films had a distribution agreement with Columbia, which was not terribly interested in Quatermass. Finally, 20th Century Fox stepped in. It received an x-rating because of scenes of massacre, destruction, panic, and the Devil.

Andrew Keir (Quatermass) is known for Devil-Ship Pirates, Pirates of Blood River, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Viking Queen, and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Barbara Shelley was a long-time Hammer heroine, known for Camp on Blood Island, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, and Rasputin, the Mad Monk. Julian Glover is known for a couple things, like The Empire Strikes Back, For Your Eyes Only, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the voice of the giant spider Aragog in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. On TV, he appeared in The Avengers, the Saint, and Doctor Who.

The music was created by Tristam Cary, and it was remarkable for the disturbing shaking sound of the thing in the tunnel. The opening titles were impressive. The film was released in the U.S. as Five Million Years to Earth. It received generous reviews as “entertaining hokum.” The Martians have rectangular slot goat-eyes, a symbol of the Devil. In the 1990’s, there was to be a remake by Director Alex Proyas (I, Robot, Dark City, and The Crow), but it didn’t happen. In 1996, there was a five-part documentary called The Quatermass Memoirs on BBC Radio. And in 2005, a live TV movie called The Quatermass Experiment was aired, with Jason Flemyng and David Tennant. The latter was informed that he had been chosen as the Tenth Doctor Who during rehearsals.