The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

quatermass xperiment poster 1955 movie creeping unknown
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Classic Hammer

Kind of generic sci-fi/horror '50s style

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Quatermass Xperiment

Studio:  Hammer Film Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  August 26, 1955

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

quatermass-xperiment-rocket

Oh…that’s going hurt the project’s budget

A ship manned with three astronauts leaves Earth, but returns with only one. The ship’s creator Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) wants to know what happened on the doom flight and discovers the survivor, Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth), might not have come back alone. As Carroon is slowly taken over by an alien entity, Quatermass and the authorities realize that the entire world could be at stake if the alien isn’t stopped.

Directed by Val Guest, The Quatermass Xperiment (known as The Creeping Unknown in the U.S.) adapted the BBC serial The Quatermass Experiment which aired in 1953. The story is a shortened version and changed a few aspects of the story. The movie also has a Guinness Book of World Records distinction of killing an audience member. It was shown in a double billing with The Black Sleep and a nine-year old died during the showing from ruptured artery.

quatermass-xperiment-patient-astronaut

Hey Quatermass…anyone ever tell you that you’re kind of a turd?

The movie was considered a big deal. There were issues with rating and it was one of the early “Certified X” by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the X in the title was supposed to play on that a bit. Many thought some of the FX were gruesome, but by today’s standards they are pretty tame. Some of the killings do leave the victims pretty gory, but the actual alien appears to be a combination of cheesy tentacles and a close up of an octopus.

The story is rather generic sci-fi mixed with horror. It was an early Hammer trip in to sci-fi and was a huge success. It does go for a rather sci-fi approach, and instead of leaving me with thrills, it kind of left me bored. Most of the acting and was flat and there was criticism for bringing on Brian Donlevy as Quatermass since he was picked to give more interest for American audiences as a former Academy Award nominated actor.

quatermass-xperiment-alien

Oh no…a pile of toxic tentacles!

I find Quatermass as kind of an ass. He isn’t very sociable, and he doesn’t seem to take much responsibility for what is unleashed on Earth. He isn’t a mad scientist, but he takes a scientific approach to the events occurring…I’m almost surprised he didn’t try to find a way to save the creature. The original Quatermass Experiment had Quatermass appeal to the creature’s consciousness and encouraged it to kill itself to save the Earth…that’s more interesting. His desire to keep searching reminds me of the old DC Challengers of the Unknown who continue to risk life and limb (and in turn the Earth) by exploring for exploration’s sake.

The Quatermass Xperiment was a big hit for Hammer and did help the company really take off in the realm of science fiction and horror and I’m happy about that. With the success, Brian Donlevy returned in Quatermass 2 in 1957 and Andrew Keir took the role in Quatermass and the Pit in 1967.

Related Links:

Quatermass 2 (1957)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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