The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
aka The Creeping Unknown

You can't even begin to describe how essential (and quintessential) this legendary Hammer-movie in fact is! It was the unexpected success of this movie that single-handedly caused the horror-boom all over Europe! If this adaptation from Nigel Kneale's play hadn't been so popular, Hammer Studios probably never would have started with re-telling other famous franchises, such as "Frankenstein", "Dracula" or "The Mummy". It was "The Quatermass Xperiment" that all of a sudden showed that the audience's hunger for morbid Sci-Fi and fantasy tales is insatiable and Hammer cleverly exploited this given bit by bit. The film itself is about 50 years old now, but it definitely still stands as one of the uncanniest and mesmerizing Sci-Fi films ever made. With its uniquely tense atmosphere, the astonishing performance by Richard Wordsworth and the intelligent script, this movie is an experience that'll keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Quatermass is the name of a brilliant (but slightly obnoxious) scientist who – apparently without permission of the legal authorities – launched a rocket with a 3-headed crew into space, to travel distances no other space-mission ever reached. The movie opens when a catastrophe already took place and the rocket crashes just outside London. Two crew members seemly vanished into thin air while the other (Wordsworth) is "possessed" with something. The unfortunate astronaut inexplicably turns into a monster that threatens to extinguish the entire world…

The premise of alien-intelligence invading earth through an unfortunate space-mission is extremely stereotyped by today's standards, but "The Quatermass Xperiment" is one of the only oldies in the genre that still feels genuine and original. A form of criticism I often encountered while browsing through other users' comments is that this production supposedly hasn't dated well and that it's nowhere near scary. Frankly, I don't share this opinion at all. First and foremost because the film suggests more terror rather than showing it explicitly! I am aware that few people nowadays appreciate horror film if it doesn't contain graphic violence and tons of blood, but it really is the unsettling atmosphere what makes this film so brilliant. And besides, I do think that the special and make-up effects are staggering although half a century old. The images of Wordsworth mutating arm wrapped in a filthy overcoat and his facial metamorphose are still definitely creepy! To wrap it all up: "The Quatermass Xperiment" is an exhilarating and trend-setting genre film that should be viewed by every fan of fantasy-flicks. Giant thumbs up for director Val Guest who also made another Hammer classic, "The Abominable Snowman"  (IMDB Coventry)

Jane Asher

1 comment:

  1. wow!! This are great pictures!! We love little Jane on there!! <3 Thank you for sharing!