The Creeping Unknown (The Quatermass Xperiment) (1955)
Reviewed on 2008 October 31
This is the first of the three Quatermass movies, and it’s old-school ’50s sci-fi, directed by Val Guest and enhanced with that British stiff upper lip. Add a decent script and you’ve got a good Saturday afternoon popcorn movie.
Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) is a hard-shelled, no-nonsense professor, called in when one of his pet projects, a rocket, crashes in the English countryside. He’s horrified at what they discover, though his bulldog face hides it well. Of the three man crew, two appear to be completely missing (except for their space suits) and one is barely alive, but almost comatose. Victor (Richard Wordsworth) is helped from the rocket by a team of doctors, who assure his wife Judith (Margia Dean) he’ll be all right.
Judith is not sure of this at all, and is furious with Quatermass, blaming him for Victor’s catatonia. To be fair to her, she doesn’t see the worry on his face, but that’s because he’s hiding it from her. He’s worried enough to sit down with a team of scientists and repeatedly screen the film taken from the spacecraft, but it still doesn’t tell much about what happened to the men. And poor Victor seems to be deteriorating.
Any time you can combine a locked room mystery and science fiction, you have my attention. This is one of those movies where the slightly stiff acting adds to its charm. While not as good as Quatermass and the Pit, it’s still a lot of fun, and the creature effects are good for a laugh. For the ultimate viewing experience you need to screen it with something like Them!, with that drive-in count down clock in between.
Three chocolate morsels.