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Monday, October 14, 2013

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

A manned rocket ship plunges to Earth in the English countryside. But there is only one survivor (Richard Wordsworth), there is no physical trace of the other two crew members. But the traumatized survivor is almost comatose and unable to speak. Worse still, his body is undergoing strange physical changes. Based on a popular 1953 British television serial, QUATERMASS XPERIMENT which was renamed THE CREEPING UNKNOWN for its American release was a big hit and is highly regarded by science fiction and horror afficionados (the film is a favorite of Stephen King and John Carpenter) but I found it unexceptional. The Quatermass of the title is a scientist played by Brian Donlevy in a brusque offhand manner that leaves no room for the human touch and the rest of the characters are so underwritten that it leaves no room for characterizations. All that would be minor quibbles if the film were sufficiently imaginative or exciting but the director Val Guest could have used a little more exposition and character development to make up for the script's deficiencies. There is a nicely unobtrusive score by James Bernard. With Jack Warner, Margia Dean, Lionel Jeffries, Gordon Jackson and Thora Hird.

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