Quatermass and the Pit (1958)

Concept and creative process

Opening titles for ‘Quatermass and the Pit‘ which was the third in a series of British science-fiction thrillers which had audiences hiding behind the sofa with fear in the 1950s. A team of scientists found a mysterious alien spacecraft buried in London and had no idea of its origin or its mission. The designer of the titles showed real ingenuity in getting away from the static white on black caption solution which was still prevalent at the time. A model was created with the titles cut into the white surface in intaglio, seen clearly in the opening shot.  The remainder of the title was also cut in intaglio into the surface and covered with coarse sand. The model was filmed with a north/south panning movement as water poured over it, washing away the sand and revealing the lettering in the white surface beneath. The water continued to flow as the main credits rolled through the shot, superimposed from a roller caption. The separate elements were combined in a film optical.