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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Aliens > British > The Quatermass Xperiment (1955/aka The Creeping Unknown/MGM Limited Edition DVD)

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955/aka The Creeping Unknown/MGM Limited Edition DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C-     Extras: D     Film: B+



PLEASE NOTE:  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


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