The Quatermass Xperiment (1955/aka The
Creeping Unknown/MGM Limited Edition DVD)
Picture: C Sound: C- Extras: D Film: B+
This DVD is an online-only exclusive from MGM and can be purchased from
Amazon.com, which you can reach through the sidebar of this side.
British science-fiction films in the 1950’s often
reflected their United States counterparts out of Hollywood. An endless parade of giant monsters, schlock
horror, and other less savory fair ruled the decade. However, 1955 brought the world The Quatermass Xperiment, and we have
Hammer Films to thank for this black and white dandy of a sci-fi classic. While sometimes too understated and even a
bit plodding, the horror builds slowly in this one, and when it arrives, it packs
real emotional punch.
A scientific rocket thought lost in space hurtles back to
Earth, crashing in the English countryside.
Led by its creator, Professor Quatermass, a team of authorities rush to
meet its human occupants, a trio of scientists sent on a mission to chart the
nature of space itself. To their
collective shock, only one man remains of the three man crew: the emaciated and
catatonic Victor Caroon. Brilliantly played
by Richard Wordsworth, Caroon seems little more than a shell of the man he once
was. His doting wife Judith (Margia
Dean) cannot accept Victor’s fate, and tries desperately to spur his recovery
in hospital. However, the sometimes
surly Professor Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) begins to suspect that something far
more sinister sits behind Victor’s vacant eyes.
As the mystery evolves, the horror and sci-fi elements
ramp up, and Victor undergoes a horrible transformation. A cautionary tale on the possible results of
man’s overzealous pursuit of the mysteries of the universe, The
Quatermass Xperiment did well enough to inspire additional
films with Professor Quatermass, but each time played by a different actor and
ignoring the continuity of previous endeavors.
Doctor Who producer and writer Barry Letts credited
the Quatermass series of films with inspiring the John Pertwee
years of the show from 1970 - 1974.
Indeed, the mostly earthbound Doctor encountered many of the same sort
of alien phenomena as found in this film.
Bereft of any extras, this film will nonetheless stand on
its own considerable merits. Part of
the MGM Limited Edition collection, fans
of classic science fiction can only hope we’ll see more releases of its ilk in
the near future.
- Scott Pyle