Quatermass Experiment Reviews
November 24, 2010
The Quatermass Xperiment doesn't quite live up to all the hype as the granddaddy of Hammer Horror. Some parts were legitimately creepy (the cockpit film was disturbing in a last 2 minutes of Blair Witch Project kind of way) and the last 15 minutes were magnificently photographed -- like Third Man magnificently photographed (especially the nighttime zoo scene.) Thse praises aside, all you're really looking at is a lot of running around, some great-looking corpses and a brief but final shot of a really cool-looking creature. It's definitely worth a watch, but not necessarily worth all the trouble of getting a hard-to-acquire copy.
January 2, 2014
This film featuring the super-scientist Quatermass was Hammer's first international hit and moved the studio to do films in the sci-fi and horror genres.
January 31, 2014
A pretty decent British sci-fi that has some fun and unique (for the time) ideas. It's a bit dated, but there is still some enjoyment to be had, and as such it is worthy of a look.
January 19, 2014
Entertaining 50's horror/sci fi shocker which has plenty of thrills, spills and excitement. Its influence on programmes like Doctor Who is obvious. Let down by an unconvincing lead and perhaps a little overrated in the history of sci fi and horror movies.
December 20, 2013
Modern science and technology has ruined some of the classic sci fi storylines but still is a great late night watch and real fun.
February 17, 2013
Alien invasion / horror story set in England in the 50's. Quatermass is unbelievably rude and doesn't care of human life at all. Special effects are good for the time the movie was made. The message seems to be: scientific progress and exploration, no matter what.
October 24, 2010
Interesting to watch, if not simply for its landmark status. It definately made good use of its budget.
November 4, 2008
Definitively this is a landmark on the history of Science fiction movies. The influence on movies such as "Alien", "The Thing" and many more is more than evident.
Great SF with a cockney touch ;)
December 31, 2005
What a terrific and chilling film! Also known as "The Creeping Unknown". Great cast, genuinely eerie. The acting is quite good, especially Brian Donlevy. This must have been amazing in 1955.
October 29, 2005
Professor Bernard Quatermass. Most American genre fans will be unfamiliar with the name of this fictional character, unless they've come across [i]The Creeping Unknown[/i], [i]Enemy From Space[/i] or [i]Five Million Years to Earth[/i] (as they were retitled for release in the United States). Professor Quatermass, the head of the fictional British Experimental Rocket Group, originated in a BBC serial written by Nigel Kneale in the early 1950s. The success of the low budget, quickly produced serials made crossovers into other media more than likely.
In 1955, Hammer Studios produced the first theatrical feature, [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i], directed by Val Guest from Kneale's first BBC serial. Commercial success led to a sequel, [i]Quatermass 2[/i] (the first English-language sequel to feature a number in the title), and more than ten years later, [i]Quatermass and the Pit[/i], the first to be filmed in color. Kneale wrote a final serial for the BBC in 1978 (it made no room for additional sequels). Quatermass and his exploits continue to be considered highly influential in science fiction, influencing the long-running Dr. Who series (including one storyline that borrowed heavily from the third serial) and later, Chris Carter's [i]The X-Files[/i]. Just this year, the BBC revived Quatermass with a new production (performed live, it remains unaired in the United States).
As a standalone film, [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i] will leave novice viewers wondering why Quatermass became such a popular character in England. Quatermass, as played by American actor Brian Donlevy in the first and second films, is peevish, hot-tempered, and arrogant, with only an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment streak to make him palatable. In [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i], Quatermass has succeeded in sending a manned rocket into space. The rocket ship has crash-landed in the English countryside. Rushing to the scene, Quatermass and his colleagues discover only one survivor (out of three), Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth). Victor has devolved into a state of near-catatonia. Quatermass, interested more in what Victor may have learned in space, shows little interest in his well being (Quatermass is too single-minded to allow empathy or compassion dictate his actions). That role is left to Dr. Gordon Briscoe (David King-Wood) and Victor's wife, Judith (Margia Dean), both of whom try, without success to break through Victor's silence.
Victor, of course, isn't what he seems. His catatonia hides not just knowledge of outer space and whatever might exist there, but somehow, he's brought something back with him. What that might be is better left unsaid, since it provides one of the few pleasures in an otherwise slow-to-develop, dialogue-driven storyline. After initial resistance from Quatermass, Victor is hospitalized (rather than quarantined, as he probably should be). Chief Inspector Lomax (Jack Warner) slips into the storyline, concerned about the strange disappearance of the two Victor, or rather something, escapes, causing a few offscreen deaths along the way, a massive manhunt, a suspicious slime trail, a scene involving a monster and a little girl (most likely lifted from James Whale's [i]Frankenstein[/i]), a few dead animals at the local zoo, and finally, after much dawdling, a confrontation at Westminster Abbey where the fate of England (and, therefore, the world) is at stake. No points for guessing who wins. Quatermass, unbowed by a brush with an extraterrestrial organism that posed a substantial threat to humanity, chillingly decides to press on with his experiment.
As expected for a film made with limited resources circa 1955, the special effects in [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i] are, to be charitable, laughable. While we never see the rocket ship in flight (we hear it), the final transformation from man to monster is missing and when we do see the monster (an all-too unimaginative puppet), is less than impressive. The audience is also asked to believe that an oversized, slow-moving, slimy monster somehow escapes detection by the police and average citizens out for their daily constitutionals, until the monster manages to find its way to a scaffold inside Westminster Abbey. Given the time period, the less said about the science, the better. To be fair, Kneale was writing speculative fiction, but given the fifty-year time difference, Kneale's ideas are either wrong or simply quaint.
Directing wise, Val Guest does nothing to distinguish [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i] from other adult-oriented science fiction films of the period. Guest errs on the side of including too many dialogue-heavy scenes or otherwise superfluous scenes. The actors acquit themselves well, although only Richard Wordsworth as Victor makes an impression (as the sympathetic astronaut). As Quatermass, Brian Donlevy tends to deliver his lines over emphatically, making his characterization unsympathetic (unlike Andrew Keir's interpretation twelve years later in [i]Quatermass and the Pit[/i]). Ultimately, [i]The Quatermass Xperiment[/i] is more notable for its status as the first Quatermass film and its impact on science fiction in the decades that followed.