Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Planet People

In 1979, John Mills played the role of the well-known British Sci-Fi character Professor Quatermass in the TV movie Quatermass IV (or Quatermass 1979). The story revolved around a breakdown in British society with anarchy and gang violence becoming the new social order. In amongst this chaos, a group of hippie-type individuals begins walking in large groups across the countryside towards various megalithic sites. As the modern world sinks further into misery and violence, the ‘Planet People’, start to gather in large numbers all over the world, preparing to meet their expected transport to a better life on another planet.

As the story develops, it becomes apparent that a pathological alien force is harvesting the energy of the Planet People when they arrive at these sites on specific dates ready to be ‘transported’. Amongst the cult is an individual who proclaims himself to be the leader of the group. Capitalising on his apparent invulnerability to the hypnosis under which the rest of the cult operates, he eventually manages to coerce the Planet People into murdering local farmers and rural inhabitants for their belongings, along with anyone who refuses to follow his leadership.

What makes this story so interesting is that although the psychopath leads his followers to their destruction, he himself is never actually harvested by the aliens. In the tradition of the best British nihilistic Sci-Fi, the movie begins within a dystopian landscape of social breakdown and a population being distracted by moronic media. 

Perhaps the best British TV movie ever made with a stunning performance by John Mills as the ageing Professor Quatermass looking for his neice who has joined the Planet People cult and a man tormented by an insane world which is technically complex, but socially in chaos.

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