The Quatermass Xperiment Film Details
Overview: Professor Bernard Quatermass’ manned rocket ship returns to Earth, but two of the astronauts are missing and the survivor seems ill and unable to communicate.
Tagline: You Can’t Escape It!
Review: MGM brought this film out as part of their Midnight Movies series in 2001 on tape . . . it just cries out for a good DVD release now. The first of 3 film versions of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass BBC serials, the odd choice of Brian Donlevy as lead may ultimately end up what is the most distinctive element of Val Guest’s direction for the first two films. My copy of the tape is the MGM/UA film from 1996 . . . the International Version – which apparently has 3 extra minutes. I know watching “THE CREEPING UNKNOWN” on TV when I was young, there were none of the fairly grisly corpse-shots. Oddly enough, one of the CREEPING UNKNOWN posters features a creature that is somewhat reminiscent of Godzilla (though I suppose it’s suppose to be an unseen phase of the creature that exists after it absorbs the lion and other big cats in the zoo). Richard Wordsworth (who is also very memorable in REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN and CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF . . . as well as THE TRIPODS on TV much later) is great as the astronaut possessed by an other-worldly presence. At times his performance seems a bit inspired by Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein . . .as do events like his brief encounter with the young girl by the bank of the river. Wordsworth is not only great at conveying the pain of the transition, but also at getting across the impression that the mind of astronaut Victor Carroon is still fighting to gain control at times. Of course, the thing that struck me when I was young was the fact that he could absorb other life-forms, squeezing a cactus to bring about the thorny,gray cactus hands that he (off-screen) uses to clobber and absorb others. But then there’s the horrific shot of his face from the bushes and the trailing whatsit (his pants, his leg, a tail) as he goes hunting for the zoo animals. The piece of Carroon that Quatermass finds and later feeds white rats to (until it’s big enough to break out of a glass aquarium and crawl around the room) is a really clever touch that helps us visualize just how BAD the monster probably looks . . . and of course it’s a touch of genius to have the BBC crew doing a documentary on Westminster Abbey, where the monster ends up finally, so that details can be obscured on the small screen. (Of course by this time the monster leaves a slug-like slime trail wherever it goes . . . and like the Thing it’s going to let loose spores.) Apparently Les Bowie used bovine entrails and tripe to help embellish the monster – tripe is a quality it shares with it’s later cousin, the ALIEN, of course. As well, cut-away edits to an Octopus eye are quite effective and pretty much consistent with what we see of the monster. There’s been frequent talk of a re-make of this film, and I worry a bit about that, since the fairly restrained details and the generally competent cast are what make this film scary. Like Jan de Bont’s awful re-make of THE HAUNTING, a bunch of CGI details and too much viewing of the monster could make the events seem a bit laughable . . . it’s the actors like Jack Warner and Lionel Jeffries that pull the film off, as their reactions make you believe. That said, my favorite Quatermass is Andrew Keir, and I find Brian Donlevy a nasty piece of work (he was nicer in GAMMERA). Basically Quatermass seems like a blustering thug . . . completely unapologetic for the near disaster he has created. Admittedly sometimes, as when he stalks past all the police and government officials to find his men and “start again” on his deadly Xperiment – the film has a kind of giddy noirish quality. So I guess in some ways, I am interested by the way that Val Guest plays Quatermass like a monster himself. (When Carroon’s wife springs him from the hospital, she has to hire a private detective – again, very noir – and tells Carroon she’s going to “get you out of his (Quatermass’) clutches!”) Still, I’m sympathetic to writer Nigel Kneale, who felt his sympathetic scientist had been turned into a bully. Anyway, this is a great, atmospheric, and scary science-fiction horror movie, and well worth catching up with.
Country: United Kingdom, Japan
Duration: 78 min
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Also known as: Projeto Quatermass,The Quatermass Xperiment,Quatermass,The Creeping Unknown,Terror que Mata,Эксперимент Куотермасса,Zemsta kosmosu,Xperimentul Quatermass,Xperiment Q,Het monster van Dr. Quatermass,Το Πείραμα του Quatermass,原子人間,L’astronave atomica del dott. Quatermass,Pánico mortal,To peirama tou Quatermass,Shock,Le monstre,O Monstro do Espaço,Schock,El experimento del Dr. Quatermass,The Quatermass Experiment,X the Experiment,A Quatermass kísérlet