The Quatermass Xperiment


Action / Horror / Sci-Fi

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 64%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 4601


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Jane Asher as Little Girl
Gordon Jackson as BBC TV producer
John Kerr as Film Lab Technician
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695.45 MB
25.000 fps
1hr 22 min
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1.24 GB
25.000 fps
1hr 22 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jamesraeburn2003 9 / 10

"An important film in the development of British horror cinema."

POSSIBLE SPOILERS Government scientist Professor Bernard Quatermass (BRIAN DONLEVY) sends a rocket into space containing three astronauts. Radio contact is lost and later it crash lands in the English countryside. Two of the crew members are missing, but the survivor, Victor Carroon (RICHARD WORDSWORTH) is slowly being taken over by an alien fungus that feeds on the blood of animals and human-beings.

In a bid to win audiences away from their TV sets (something that was a real threat to cinemas at the time), Hammer elected to film the popular BBC serial THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (the E was replaced with X in order to emphasise it's X certificate), which was the creation of writer Nigel Kneale. The gamble payed off and Hammer had a box office hit on their hands in 1955.

Seen today, THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT is obviously very tame in comparison to modern day sci-fi and horror films, most of it's shock sequences occur off screen with the camera cutting away and harping back on reaction shots. Yet it is a milestone in the development of British horror cinema and along with the company's THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, it spawned this country's horror boom of the 1950's and 60's. Richard Wordsworth's Carroon is one of the most sympathetic monsters in British horror and there is a classic scene at the London docks where the former is hiding out in an abandoned boat and is awakened by a little girl who is having a pretend picnic with her dolly. Unaware of the true horror that's going on, the little girl naively asks Carroon if he wants to join them. One can see that Carroon is fully aware of what would happen if the girl touches him and runs away accidentally breaking her dolly.

Wordsworth is brilliant as Carroon and so is Brian Donlevy as Quatermass while director Val Guest's documentary approach gives the picture a sense of conviction.

Reviewed by Red-Barracuda 7 / 10

A very influential bit of 50's sci-fi

I first encountered The Quatermass Xperiment in the long defunct magazine 'Halls of Horror' when they published it in comic format. Brilliantly drawn by Brian Lewis it made the film look very evocative and scary. It wasn't until many years later that I finally caught up with the film proper when it played on late night TV and, while it turned out to be less violent and salacious than the comic adaption, it certainly turned out to be a very impressive bit of 50's sci-fi. Adapted from a BBC mini-series written by Nigel Neale, it tells the story of a rocket which crash lands in the UK after a deep space mission, the one surviving astronaut emerges from the craft in a near comatose state. It transpires that he has been infected by a mysterious space organism which is slowly mutating him into a deadly creature. He escapes and begins a murderous rampage which involves him literally sucking the life from various lifeforms…plant, animal, human.

This film was unusual in that it was a very rare example where producers submitted a movie to the censors with a cut specifically designed to obtain an X rating. Most tried to avoid this as it limited their audience considerably and when you consider that up to this point science fiction was aimed at young audiences, it seems pretty clear that The Quatermass Xperiment heralded a very new approach to the genre, one which presented a sci-fi premise where the consequences were very horrific. But perhaps the most significant thing about this film was that it was the movie where the b-movie producers Hammer hit upon the idea that they may have a knack for horror and the rest, as they say, is history…

This is a commendably quite dark and pessimistic bit of 50's sci-fi. It has a rich atmosphere helped quite a bit from the gloomy post-war British setting. The lead character adds to this a bit with Professor Quatermass a very misanthropic individual for a main 'hero' in a movie. Brian Donlevy does a good job on the character, ramping up his monomaniacal characteristics. Richard Wordsworth impresses too as the doomed astronaut; it's a wordless performance where he gives off considerable menace by looks and small gestures. There is a nod to Frankenstein (1931) where he interacts with a young girl (incidentally played by future beauty Jane Asher!), which is a scene which shows his performance was certainly in Boris Karloff territory. The film eventually winds up with a memorable finale at Westminster Abbey where we see the final creature, this is followed by an impressively downbeat ending where Quatermass delivers a brilliantly cold line – a perfect ending to one of the best sci-fi films of the 50's.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 8 / 10

Dated British sci-fi with bags of appeal

Hammer had been producing a string of cheap, intellectual sci-fi flicks at the beginning of the '50s, but it took this TV adaptation for the horror to really set in. Seen today, it's a quaint and rather lovable slice of retro fun, ably mixing horror and sci-fi on a small scale and actually being effective in many of the quieter moments. The plot is a rather predictable piece of hokum about a rampaging alien monster, but what impresses is the level of scientific detail that has been gone into, really adding to the depth of the film. Shot in stark black and white, this is a slow paced but short little number with some great bits of music from James Bernard and solid direction from Val Guest, who would later make the effective THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE.

THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT contains many fine scenes. Early on we see a grainy film of what happens to three astronauts on a spacecraft when they are exposed to an alien entity; this is a truly frightening moment despite its age, and still tremendously powerful and unsettling. Similarly the spooky night-time scenes shot in an atmospheric London are great to watch, and an attack on a zoo complete with an aftermath of dead animals makes for great spectacle on the smallest of budgets. The ending of the movie changes gear and becomes a fully-fledged US-style monster shocker, with a giant squid/octopus like creature up on the scaffolding at Westminster Abbey; Les Bowie's special effects are top-notch making this a superb conclusion.

The acting is also very good and another reason to check this film out. Many dislike Brian Donlevy's hard-headed Quatermass, but I loved him as he's always picking fights and getting things his own way. His last line in the film is a classic. Strong and amusing support comes from Jack Warner, whilst Thora Hird gets a good moment of outright comedy to herself. The British stalwarts supporting the leads are decent enough, but the best performance comes from creepy Richard Wordsworth as the possessed astronaut gradually overtaken by the alien virus. Out of all the actors to play aliens in the movies (with the exception of the 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), Wordsworth is by far the most frightening despite only having about one line. Great stuff and a great little movie for genre buffs, dated but still with much to appeal.

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