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The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) Online

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) Online
Original Title :
The Quatermass Xperiment
Genre :
Movie / Horror / Sci-Fi
Year :
Directror :
Val Guest
Cast :
Brian Donlevy,Jack Warner,Margia Dean
Writer :
Richard H. Landau,Val Guest
Budget :
Type :
Time :
1h 22min
Rating :
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) Online

In the countryside of London, a rocket crashes on a farm and Professor Bernard Quatermass and Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax arrive in the spot. The rocket was launched by Prof. Quatermass with the astronauts Victor Carroon, Greene and Reichebheim; however only Carroon is found very sick in the cabin. He is transported to a private clinic to stay under observation despite the protests of his wife Mrs. Judith Carroon. She bribes a nurse to bring Carroon to her and she finds that he is transforming into a monster. Carroon escapes, killing people and animals during his metamorphosis while the Scotland Yard is hunting him down and Dr. Quatermass discovers that his process is an alien invasion.
Complete credited cast:
Brian Donlevy Brian Donlevy - Prof. Bernard Quatermass
Jack Warner Jack Warner - Insp. Lomax
Margia Dean Margia Dean - Mrs. Judith Carroon
Thora Hird Thora Hird - Rosemary 'Rosie' Elizabeth Wrigley
Gordon Jackson Gordon Jackson - BBC TV producer
David King-Wood David King-Wood - Dr. Gordon Briscoe
Harold Lang Harold Lang - Christie
Lionel Jeffries Lionel Jeffries - Blake
Sam Kydd Sam Kydd - Police sergeant questioning Rosie
Richard Wordsworth Richard Wordsworth - Victor Carroon

The film achieved a degree of notoriety Stateside when in 1956 the parents of Stewart Cohen attempted to sue the Lake Theater and distributors United Artists for negligence after their nine-year-old son died of a ruptured artery in the cinema lobby at a double-bill of this and The Black Sleep (1956). Cohen entered the Guinness Book of Records as the only known case of someone literally dying of fright at a horror film.

Nigel Kneale had several reservations about this adaptation of his tale, conceding it was well-directed and pared down with pace from his original story line. He deplored the use of US actors Brian Donlevy (finding him far too unsympathetic and implausible as the lead role) and Margia Dean. Les Bowie's tripe-based realisation of the creature, also vexed the writer. Kneale was further infuriated by the BBC, who refused him any involvement or remuneration for this commercial use of his work, since as a contracted staff member all rights remained with the Corporation and not the individual.

Among the materials used by Les Bowie to embellish the monster were bovine entrails and tripe.

Val Guest heavily reworked Richard Landau's story draft (which assumed Quatermass would be British so changed Briscoe into a USAF Flight Surgeon), particularly tailoring the dialogue to compliment Donlevy's punchy no-nonsense acting style, which he believed helped to sell the more obscure SF plot elements to audiences.

Actress, cake decorator and former fiancée of Paul McCartney, a young Jane Asher plays the little girl trying her unsuspecting best to befriend a transmogrifying Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth). The chance encounter is reminiscent of James Whale's classic Frankenstein (1931), wherein Little Maria and the Frankenstein monster meet.

The unusually-spelled "Xperiment" in the title pointed up to British cinemagoers that this was their first X-rated SF film. The British Board of Film Censors had instituted the use of the "X" certificate in 1951 to indicate that certain films had themes that might be too strong or intense for persons under the age of 16. The film's title exploited the fact of receiving this "honor" by the spelling of the word "Xperiment".

Brian Donlevy and Margia Dean came onboard the project on the recommendation of Hammer's American distributor Robert L. Lippert, to increase appeal for US audiences.

Anthony Hinds handed the TV scripts of the story to Val Guest as the latter was about to fly to Tangier for a holiday. Implored by his wife to read them (having caught none of the 1953 BBC broadcasts), an impressed Guest felt that the story would benefit from a cinema vérité shooting style, to lend a documentary air and so strengthen credibility.

The first adaptation by Hammer of what was originally a TV drama.

HD TV reveals even more clearly that the Abbey monster is mostly made of pieces of tripe.

This film was originally slated to be released in the United States by 20th Century Fox. However, to convince more exhibitors to install Cinemascope equipment, studio chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, pledged that all future 20th Century Fox releases would be in Cinemascope or a compatible anamorphic process. Since this Hammer production was shot in "flat" widescreen, it had to be passed over. It was picked up and released through United Artists.

The original British release billed Brian Donlevy and Jack Warner before the main title ("The Quatermass Xperiment"), with Margia Dean heading the supporting cast after the title. For the US release Donlevy, then Ms. Dean, and then Warner were billed before the main title ("The Creeping Unknown"), moving Thora Hird up to the top of the supporting cast, the remaining order of which was not changed. Also, Val Guest did not receive co-screenplay credit on the US credits; Nigel Kneale's credit was altered to simply "Based on the play by", and the Acknowledgments credits were omitted altogether.

At no point during either of the Hammer/Donlevy Quatermass films is the central character referred to as a professor.

The original onscreen title of this film was The Quatermass Experiment, as it should have been, of course. Only contemporary posters advertising the film gave it as .....Xperiment, undoubtedly only to emphasise the fact that it had been granted an X certificate by the BBFC. The BBFC's website confirms this fact. The onscreen title was probably changed for the film's reissue or its issue on VHS and DVD, for some obscure reason.

According to Nigel Kneale, Sidney Gilliat had expressed an interest in filming the story.

The name Victor Caroon was used ,with a spelling of Carune, in Stephen King's short story "The Jaunt".

The re-release in Spain was only in Barcelona (Méliès Cinemes). The film was projected 7 days and only in subtitled version.

User reviews



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.


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"


A secret rocket expedition to Space unexpectedly crashes back to Earth. One lone astronaut is found to have survived only he's disheveled, not quite himself as he seems to be on the verge of some bizarre transformation! And what happened to the other two astronauts on board - all that seems to be left of them is two empty spacesuits?! How and why? What and when? A mystery that needs unraveling, a strange journey into unknown previously unexplored territory and a scientist hero named Quatermass whose methods the viewing audience are not always going to be inclined to agree with even if he is in essence correct in his line of thinking on many levels. A likely inspiration for many later film and TV works including THE BLOB, THE FLY, "The X-Files" and much more. Science fiction does not get much better than this film which grips you with its terrific suspense as we see Victor Caroon (played as a tragic and terrifying figure all at once in a terrific performance from Richard Wordsworth) go where no man has gone before in more ways than one might imagine.


Well written and terminally fascinating British sci-fi thriller from director Val Guest and writer Nigel Neale. It is a film of big ideas and planet-sized concepts that stares up into the unknown with a combination of wonderment and dread.

Originally a highly popular TV series, it spawned two excellent sequels and decades of creative Hollywood pilfering.

Brian Donlevy is wonderful as Quatermass, a scientist with the bullying manner of a military drill Sargent and a fierce, pragmatic streak. After a rocket that he sent into space crashes back to Earth, Quatermass and unofficial partner-in-crime Inspector Lomax (Jack Warner) uncover a bizarre alien conspiracy in which a surviving astronauts's body has been "borrowed" by extraterrestrials keen on relocating.

Director Guest gives the drama a no-nonsense, almost documentary feel. The special effects are perfectly acceptable for the period and the brooding sense of mid-century paranoia is well conveyed.

The hero is the script, though. The dialogue is fresh and colourful and writers Guest and Neale always keep the scientific jargon interesting. All the characters are believable and the performances are top notch.

Despite the fact that James Bernard's solid score is a little overbearing at times, this is a dashingly good science fiction film with a strong stench of horror.
Knights from Bernin

Knights from Bernin

Before a little British company called Hammer became famous for Dracula and Frankenstein, there were the adventures of Professor Bernard Quatermass. Based on the live BBC serial from 1953, The Quatermass Xperiment put Hammer on the film world map. How that happened it obvious from this tense, realistic, and gritty science fiction classic.

The film is immensely helped by an excellent cast. Brian Donlevy's Quatermass is the archetype science fiction film scientist: a scientist obsessed with their quest for science before turning having to deal with the consequences of that quest. Donlevy plays Quatermass to perfection as a scientist who is both horrified and fascinated by the events he has set in motion. It's a strong performance filled with realism. fascination and horror. The cast also includes terrific performances from Jack Warner as Scotland Yard's Inspector Lomax, Margia Dean who takes the potentially clichéd Judith Carroon and puts flesh and blood on the character, and David King-Wood as Quatermass's fellow scientist Doctor Briscoe. The best performance of the film may well be from the character who never speaks: Richard Wordsworth as Victor Carroon. Wordsworth perfectly plays both the horror of the lone surviving astronaut and also sympathy as the worst off victim of the Quatermass experiment. This is especially true in a scene where Caroon finds himself at a dock where a little girl approaches him with her doll. It reminds one of the scene from the Universal Frankensein where the seemingly innocent takes on a darker meaning. Overall, the film has a terrific cast of actors bringing it to life.

At a time when science fiction films were defined by the clichéd and outrageous monster and alien invasion films, this film (and its TV counterpart) went in the exact opposite direction. Director Val Guest choose to do the film not in the style of the time but in a near documentary style. That's why the film work's fifty years later: it seems real in that it is a product of its time are place. If Britian had started the space race in the mid-1950's, one feels this is how it would have been.

The film is also helped by two very strong elements: the black and white cinematography and the music score. Doing the film in black and white adds atmosphere to a film that is part alien invasion and part manhunt. It helps especially in the film's fiery finale. The music score by James Bernard is terrific in adding to the atmosphere of the film and it never intrudes, but just helps to bring one a little bit closer to the edge of one's seat. The film wouldn't be the same without either one of these two elements.

Yet as much as I would like to call this film perfect, it isn't. There is one thing that the film hits and misses on: special effects. The downside of the film being so much a product of its time is that when the special effects are looked back at from a distance, they look primitive. That's not to say that the special effects are bad. The prosthetics work in particular looks good even by today's standards as far as I'm concerned. The finale of the film is the most obvious spot where the special effects are a bit of a let down by modern standards. Then again, it is hard to compare special effects from one era to another so this is an issue for the viewer to decide on.

While the special effects may hamper the film for some, one must admit that The Quatermass Xperiment is a classic of the genre. From the terrific performance (espeically of Donlevy and Wordsworth), to the realistic style and tone, to the excellent cinematography, to the dark score by Jame Bernard, The Quatermass Xperiment is a tour de force for the more intelligent and less action based science fiction films. If you can put aside the mid-1950's special effects, you're going to find a tense, realistic, and gritty science fiction classic.


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.


Horror/science fiction films have rarely been singled out for the quality of the acting in them. Over the decades, a couple of "monsters" have been tapped for praise: Fredric March won an Oscar for his turn at Jekyll and Hyde, & Jeff Goldblum was rightly seen as an example of "inspired casting" in David Cronenberg's remake of _The Fly_.

But I think Richard Wordsworth has them both beat.

I enjoy _The Creeping Unknown_ overall, but it is Wordsworth's performance as Victor Caroon that lifts it into the stratosphere for me. I mean, sheesh, _look_ at him! This is an incredibly painful and, yes, passionate portrait of a man whose _body_ is being taken over and is changing into something else, even as he fights to retain possession of it. What might such a battle _feel_ like? Wordsworth lets you know, and in doing so anchors an almost cliché science-fiction "what if ...?" in raw human nerve endings. Watch him battle the frightening desires that overcome him; watch him try to stay ... human. He's first class, and why his career never really took off ...

I am probably all alone on a windswept plain in this, but I think Wordsworth's acting here is as frenzied and solid as that of Klaus Kinski in any of the great movies he did with Werner Herzog. So shoot me! :)


A British spaceship returns to Earth but instead of celebrating this first space shot, there is a lot of confusion, as two of the three crew members are missing. Additionally, the one who DID return just doesn't look or act right and he's kept under supervision and monitored as his body seems to be undergoing some sort of metamorphosis.

This isn't exactly your standard 1950s sci-fi/monster film, as the story itself is more tightly written and seems more credible than the typical "bug-eyed monster" film. Instead of the over the top acting and silly special effects, this is a more cerebral style film and the "monster" doesn't even make an appearance until near the very end. Instead, the story slowly unfolds and at the same time, simple makeup does the trick--no ping pong ball eyes, giant killer lobsters or any of the sort of tripe seen in the sillier examples of the genre. About the only negative was the whole subplot of the wife trying to kidnap her husband away from the hospital--this didn't make a lot of sense. Still, overall it's a dandy sci-fi film and worth a look.
Sadaron above the Gods

Sadaron above the Gods

Unfortunately Nigel Kneal had absolutely no input into the film version of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT . Out goes the philosophy and long discussions of the human condition and in comes the more formuliac and streamlined plotting of a hostile alien endangering the human race , but to be fair to Richard Landau he also jettisoned many underdeveloped subplots from the serial ( When episode one of TQE was broadcast on television Kneale was still writing episode 5 so some subplots were abandoned by Kneale in order to meet the deadline ) and - unlike film viewers in 2002 - the oft used premise of an alien entity coming back to Earth from a spaceship would still be very new to cinema audiences in the mid 50s. I might even be right in saying this is the first time this idea had appeared in cinema .

Director Val Guest treats THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT as SF film noir and brings in a heavy dose of mood and atmosphere especially during the night time zoo sequence. Unlike QUATERMASS 2 there`s no feeling that the night scenes were achieved by sticking a dark filter over the camera . Guest is less successful with his cast . Donlevy is relatively good at playing double crossing mobsters in the likes of THE BIG COMBO but he`s utterly unconvincing as a rocket scientist and it doesn`t help that he keeps pronouncing his name as " Qittermiss ", Margia Dean is utterly appalling as Judith Carroon , but Richard Wordsworth is outstanding as Victor Carroon even if he doesn`t have a single line of dialogue.

The BBC serial of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT shocked the viewers of Britain when it was broadcast and in its own way the film version is almost as groundbreaking , it was a big hit at the UK box office which led to Hammer Films to concentrate solely on horror films something they would excell at for the next 10-15 years .

Trivia point 1 - The montage scenes of soldiers searching for Carroon at night time are actually culled from another British SF flick - SEVEN DAYS TO NOON

Trivia point 2- The last four episodes of the BBC serial were shown live on television but because of an industrial dispute they weren`t - unlike the first two episodes - recorded onto film which means no one will ever see the complete BBC QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT
The Sphinx of Driz

The Sphinx of Driz

The Quatermass Xperiment is the first of the well-written British Sci-fi films based on Nigel Kneale's Professor Quatermass. The film tells the story of how a rocket had been sent up to space with three aboard and how it lands with seemingly two missing. The man in charge of everything is the professor himself, played starchily by Brian Donlevy. Donlevy's professor has no purpose except to succeed and to do anything and everything his way. He is certainly one of the prototypes of the determined, logical scientists to grace films afterward. The film has a slow start as it really spends a great deal of time showing the two different ways of looking and doing things. On the one hand is the Quatermass way, the logical, scientific, and survivalistic way, and on the other hand is the government way, slow, plodding, and indecisive. Through these the story unfolds that the one man that returned is in actuality a carrier of an alien that has grown through the consumption of human vitals into a slithering blob, growing bigger in stature all the time. Quatermass, with the aid of a Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax, wonderfully played with an amusing turn by Jack Warner, finally succeeds in saving our planet from the menace he was responsible for bringing down. Is he contrite? Does he see the errors of his ways? The film ends with his sending another rocket into space to explore the unknown. The film definitely sees the value of science over all us, including life here on Earth, through the vision, imagination, and drive of Donlevy's Professor Quatermass.


The Quatermass Xperiment was one of the first sci fi movies to come from Hammer Studios, long before the Dracula and Frankenstein movies.

A rocket with three people aboard launched by Professor Quatermass crash lands in the English countryside on its return to Earth. Two crew members are missing and the third one is still alive but is gradually turning into a monster and escapes from the hospital where he is being treated and starts murdering people and animals to stay alive. He has been taken over by some sort of alien life form while in space. The chase ends up in Westminster Abbey and he is electrocuted at the end.

This was the first of Hammer's trilogy of Quatermass movies and possibly the best.

The movie stars Brian Donlevy as Quatermass, Jack Warner (Dixon of Dock Green), an early role for Thora Hird (Last of the Summer Wine), Sam Kydd (Island Of Terror) and Lionel Jeffries (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Donlevy returned as Quatermass in Quatermass 2 in 1957.

The movie has an excellent, haunting score and is a must for fans of 50's science fiction like myself. Great stuff.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


Brian Donlevy is a scientist at the head of a space exploration program. One of his rockets returns from space with two of its crew missing and the third in a kind of waking coma. Film from the flight suggests to Donlevy that perhaps there is some life form floating around in space, intelligent, but without matter, just pure energy, and that it latches on to any living organism it happens to encounter and reproduce itself.

That's quite a stretch. As it turns out, Donlevy is correct. The comatose survivor of the space ship is smuggled out of the hospital by his unsuspecting wife (Margia Dean). This is a big mistake on her part. The victim, Richard Wordsworth, has been compelled by the force that occupies his body, to smash his hand into a cactus plant, thus turning his hand into a spiny glob. He's already killed on man with it. When his wife discovers his hideous deformity she shrieks and Wordsworth exits the car and stumbles off into the night.

Donlevy and the police are in pursuit, and a good thing because the victim of this infection is slowly turning into a blubbering blob, from his arm up. There is an encounter with a cheerful young girl who wants him to play with her, but Frankenstein's monster -- I mean the lumpy Wordsworth -- smashes her dolly and heads towards the zoo for a meal of antelope, lion, and whatever else he happens to find. By this time, he's sliding like a slug rather than walking.

The thing is now the size of a giant octopus and is accidentally discovered during a BBC broadcast in Westminster Abbey. Donlevy manages to electrocute it -- it's no longer a "him" -- and stalks off to begin the space exploration program anew.

I saw this when I was a kid and it scared the pants off me. Now, more mature, more experienced, a man of more substance, I found it a little embarrassing. The budget must have been minuscule. I still sympathized with Wordsworth as he slowly, agonizingly, is transformed by the force occupying his body, and in fact Richard Wordsworth's performance is very good. Donlevy is a barrel-chested actor without much range, though he was an interesting man. He was dogged by an alcohol problem and was part of General Pershing's punitive expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa's incursion in 1916. Some of the supporting cast were good enough to go on to substantial careers in British cinema -- Lionel Jeffries and Gordon Jackson, for example. The performances of one or two others induce winces of pain. Margia Dean sounds dubbed -- and does not utter a believable line. David King-Wood, as Donlevy's assistant, actually commits the fundamental error of glancing at the camera during a scene -- not his fault. Maybe not the director's either. There may not have been enough money for another take.

The logic behind the monster's development is also befuddling. What is "intelligent energy"? If the thing can live off plant matter, as it apparently can, else why absorb the cactus, then why does it seek out animals? And why does it take so long to absorb the energy or the cells or the ectoplasm from Wordsworth, when it can do the same to a human victim in a few minutes? You're better off approaching this with your mind in neutral and treating it as a horror show that is far too delicate for anything resembling close examination. Put aside all thought and just let your skin crawl.


Vintage British sci-fi movie with a fascinating Brian Donlevy as Quatermass from original BBC production that kept millions glued to their TV screens in a serial formed by six episodes of 30 minutes starred by Reginald Tate and directed by Rudolph Cartier . The picture concerns about the events occur when a space aircraft falls on Oakley Green . There arrive Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) , a police official(Jack Warner) and an obstinate scientific . But one astronaut (Richard Wordsworth who brings abominable terror and helplessness to his character) carrying an alien infestation from outer space from destroying Earth . The former pilot is now possessed by a strange malignant force . Not long after a terrible thing stalks the street of the town .The plot is developed for continuous discovery leading a spooky and astounding finale set at Westminster Abbey.

This chiller is an outstanding adaptation of TV serial exhibited in BBC (1953) by Nigel Kneagle . An elderly and bleak Brian Donlevy is very good as Quatermass, he gives a tremendously powerful acting as rough scientist . Extraordinary performance of Richard Wordsworth , he gives an eerie atmosphere , an air of foreboding, an evil that hangs over his amazing role who causes him to turn into a disgusting monster. This bears remarkable resemblance to Frankestein monster , even appears with a little girl played by Jane Asher , future Hammer-star and starring of ¨The masque of red death¨. The great climax film is ,of course, the ending confrontation between the protagonists and the weird entity.

As turns up the Irish Brian Donlevy as starring who repeats role in ¨Quatermass II¨ both directed by Val Guest, the third part is titled ¨Quatermass and the pit¨, this is one of the best science fiction films of the history with Andrew Keir and directed by Roy Ward Baker ; besides John Mills starred the final chapter titled the ¨Conclusion Quatermass¨ directed by Piers Haggard . In the picture appears the usual Hammer technicians, as cameraman Elder Willis creating a riveting cinematography ; Les Bowie who makes some competent special effects , sensational makeup by Philip Leakey ; an awesome production design and musical conductor by James Bernard composing a tense and thrilling score . This successful movie owes a lot to prestigious artist and technician team that encourage its studio Hammer to continue to become Europe's foremost purveyor of terror and mystery . This nail-biting film is well produced by Anthony Hinds and compellingly directed by Val Guest. The movie was firstly exhibited in 1955 in London Pavilion and tiled ¨Quatermass Xperimet¨ and in US titled ¨The creeping unknown¨. The flick will appeal to science fiction movies enthusiasts and Hammer fans .Rating : Above average and well worth watching . Essential and indispensable seeing .


In the countryside of London, a rocket crashes on a farm and Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) and Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax (Jack Warner) arrive in the spot. The rocket was launched by Prof. Quatermass with the astronauts Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth), Greene and Reichebheim; however only Carroon is found very sick in the cabin. He is transported to a private clinic to stay under observation despite the protests of his wife Mrs. Judith Carroon (Margia Dean). She bribes a nurse to bring Carroon to her and she finds that he is transforming into a monster. Carroon escapes killing people and animals during his metamorphosis while the Scotland Yard is hunting him down and Dr. Quatermass discovers that his process is an alien invasion.

"The Quatermass Xperiment" is an early sci-fi from Hammer with a creepy alien invasion. Despite the low-budget, the screenplay is very well written and the film entertains, specially fans of sci-fi from the 50's. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Terror que Mata" ("Terror that Kills")


I had the great good fortune to know Richard Wordsworth in my younger days as an actor. We performed together in a production of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," which Richard also directed. He was an 'elder statesman' actor of quiet intensity, very much of the British school of acting. I was a brash, young American method actor, and yet we seemed to mesh so well on the stage that we ended up looking forward to our scenes together each night. It is with those memories in mind that I pay tribute to Richard here and recommend you watch his powerful performance as Victor Caroon in "The Quatermass Xperiment." Although Brian Donlevy is listed as the star of the film, you can just as well look past his boorish interpretation of Nigel Kneale's Prof. Bernard Quatermass and go straight to Richard's turn as Caroon. Richard's intensity is well-displayed here. Two moments in particular stand out in my mind from this film. The first is the scene wherein Caroon's wife (played by Margia Dean) is driving a car with her husband beside her. At this point in the story Caroon is undergoing a transformation as he's being possessed by an alien entity. In the scene the wife is carrying on a very one-sided conversation with her husband; but Richard's face conveys a chillingly silent malevolence as he looks at her without speaking a word. There is such tremendous menace in his performance in this scene and it is all conveyed silently. Brilliant.

The other scene is earlier in the film as Caroon is still hospitalized and fighting the alien forces that are overtaking him. He sees and feels his body changing and evolving and is powerless to stop it. Looking at his altering hand, he makes a mad attempt to restore some semblance of his human feeling by violently pounding his hand down onto a cactus plant. Richard conveys the pain and agony of this act in an unforgettable manner. Rather than screaming out his pain and rage as most actors would, he instead released a shuddering breath that is unforgettable in it's power. You feel not only his physical pain but his tragic internal suffering as well. It is simply unforgettable.

I hope you'll enjoy Richard Wordsworth's performance in this film as much as I have. He was a talented man, a fine actor, and dear fellow to boot. I miss him.


After the enormous success of the BBC mini-series of the same name, Hammer Studios, which at the time were specialising in supporting features, swooped in to action a feature film adaptation. This being the first horror film they produced, The Quatermass Xperiment can be labelled as the birth of Hammer horror, and for that we are truly thankful. The surprising thing is, for all it's B-movie clunkiness and 1950's science-babble, Quatermass has stood the test of time. It's a serious, occasionally thrilling, and undeniably entertaining little picture.

After a rocket ship holding three astronauts crash-lands in the English countryside, Professor Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) arrives with his troupe of investigators and fellow scientists. After they open the hatch, they find two of the pilots vanished, and only one - Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth) - barely survived. He is taken in for treatment, and watched over by Dr. Briscoe (David King-Wood), who notices his skin taking an oily form. But Carroon's wife wants her husband back and smuggles him out of the hospital, where he escapes into London, absorbing any lifeforms he comes across.

Writer Nigel Kneale apparently disapproved of Donlevy's rather prickly performance as Quatermass, but I feel Donlevy (who was apparently sozzled throughout the entire shoot) is the reason Quatermass works so well. Rather than simply being your average scientist, Quatermass is a subtle madman, waving away procedure and safety in the name of science, playing God because he has the brains to do so. The film also works thanks to some impressive special-effects work, and a stoic Wordsworth in a performance and role that surely became the framework for Christopher Lee's Monster in Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).

It's a short, snappy piece that moves along nicely, never getting too caught up in the science and wholeheartedly embracing the fiction. There's also a fine humour that prevails throughout the film, especially in the scenes involving Jack Warner's brilliantly sarcastic Inspector Lomax. It seems silly now to think that the film received the dreaded 'X' certificate back in 1955, but Hammer deliberately aimed the have the film stamped with this rating (as reflected in the 'Xperiment' of the title). This willingness to dare the audience to be scared had them flocking to see it, and, of course, the rest is history.



The Quatermass Xperiment is the movie that, deservedly, put Hammer Studios on the map. 1955 was a bad year for film production in Great Britain, and Hammer's fate largely depended on the returns from the slate of pictures made in 1954, the last of which was Xperiment. Of course, The Quatermass Xperiment turned out to be something of a phenomenon, and the rest is history.

The Quatermass Xperiment benefits from a riveting, groundbreaking story by the hugely imaginative writer Nigel Kneale, which had been such a success when broadcast by the BBC in 1953; a taut screenplay by Richard Landau and Val Guest, which condensed Kneale's three hour teleplay into a more compact 82 minutes; and Guest's expressive, grittily newsreel-like direction. The sensitive, haunted, wordless performance of Richard Wordsworth, great-great-grandson of the poet William Wordsworth, as the stricken astronaut Victor Carroon, ranks among the greatest of this, or any other genre. Also, Brian Donlevy, legendarily drunk throughout the shoot, and whose performance Kneale famously hated, is, in my opinion, excellent as the brusque, blunt, belligerent scientist Bernard Quatermass. As Guest noted, Donlevy "gave it absolute reality".

The Quatermass Xperiment is the type of low budget, B-level, profoundly professional movie-making that, not long ago, was the glory of cinema. The level of skill and dedication on display here is extraordinary. Guest, a talented, no-nonsense director, who, sadly, passed away not long ago, is clearly influenced by American genre film-making, most obviously the Warner's crime dramas of the 30's, and 40's film noir. His photographic style is stark, simple, and moody; his dialog overlaps; and his mis-en-scene is documentary-like in its relentless intensity, which makes this essentially fantastic story that much more believable.

There is really no reason for The Quatermass Xperiment to be this good, other than the fact that a lot of very talented people, such as cinematographer Walter Harvey; art director J. Elder Wills; editor James Needs; make-up artist Phil Leakey; and special effects artist Les Bowie; not necessarily artists but, perhaps more importantly, superior craftsmen, did the best they could with what they had. After watching the endless parade of multi-million dollar digitized swill that is out in the theaters and on DVD these days, this is a movie to make you fall in love with the movies again. Hats off.


When an experimental rocket ship crashes back down to Earth, Bernard Quatermass is baffled as to why three astronauts went up, but only one has returned. The returning astronaut is Victor Carroon and he's in a bad way. Unable to speak and going thru some sort of metamorphosis, it's not long before he starts to become something that literally threatens all of mankind. Can Quatermass and his team of scientists stop the creeping unknown in its tracks?

The character of Bernard Quatermass was born out of the considerable brain of writer Nigel Kneale. A science boffin and defender of the Earth against other worldly beasties, Quatermass was first seen on the screen in the BBC TV serial in 1953. Here that bastion of British horror, Hammer Film Productions, adapts a story for the screen and produce a gritty science fiction thriller that doesn't resort to the hokey monster schlock conventions so evident in the 1950s. Directed by Val Guest {who co-writes with Richard H. Landau}, the Quatermass franchise {sequels, more TV serials and another linked film would follow down the line} always thrived because of its intelligence and willingness to explore the science surrounding its stories. Here with this one we get an interesting look at the political aspects that surround the space programme, and this in turn dovetails nicely with the police investigation as the "Yard" search for the man, soon to be monster.

Effectively using London locations such as Westminster Abbey, Guest's movie also pulses with great characters. Not just those on the trail of the stricken astronaut, but also those that he {it} comes into contact with; such as a Frankenstein like encounter with a young girl (Jane Asher) playing with her doll. It's well thought out stuff, even if budget restrictions and time scale can't quite fully realise Kneale's creation. Of the cast, Brian Donlevy steps into the shoes of brainy Bernard, seen as an odd casting choice by many, it proves to be quite astute. Quatermass is straight laced and a stickler for his science, Donlevy's mannerisms and gruff exterior suit the role very well. Britain's favourite copper Jack Warner of course plays the inspector leading up the investigation, and as usual he's as solid as a rock, while Richard Wordsworth is brilliant as the doomed Victor Carroon. There's also little turns from British treasures like Thora Hird, Lionel Jeffries and Gordon Jackson.

With its writing smarts appeasing the adults and having enough of a creature feature vibe to entertain the kids, The Quatermass Experiment is a classy bit of 50s sci-fi that covers most of the bases. 8/10


Professor Bernard Quatermass is in charge of a manned rocket mission that has gone awry. They lost contact with the spaceship at one point and have no idea how far into space it may have traveled. When the rocket crash lands in a farmer's field they find that only one of the three occupants, Victor Carroon, is on board; the others have simply vanished.

Somehow when you say "1950s science fiction", this film tends to be overlooked. Often for more American films, some of which are better and many of which are worse. Why? And most interestingly, this comes from Hammer, the fines folks who brought life back to Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein. They are not really known for their science fiction, but maybe they should be.

Jeff Szpirglas calls Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release "well worth the wait" Americans had to endure. Indeed, beyond the crisp picture, we get some nice interviews: John Carpenter and Ernest Dickerson, as well as director Val Guest. The latter, of course, is a real treat, but for me Dickerson is the hidden treasure. He has not yet received the attention he deserves.
The Apotheoses of Lacspor

The Apotheoses of Lacspor

In the first of the Hammer Horrors, a spaceship crashes to earth in the English countryside, containing a mute, catatonic astronaut Victor Carroon (Wordsworth) - and no sign of the other two pilots except some traces of gloop.

It transpires Carroon has been infected by an alien parasite, responsible for the deaths of his fellow crew. As space program head, the ruthless, monomaniacal Professor Quatermass (Donlevy) says, "It's almost beyond human understanding: some fantastic invisible force converted two men into... jelly!" A rapidly mutating Carroon goes on a murderous rampage, pursued by Quatermass and Scotland Yard's Inspector Lomax (Warner, best known as 'Dixon Of Dock Green'). The chase culminates in a showdown with the comprehensively mutated Caroon in Westminster Abbey.

Based on Nigel Kneale's 1953 BBC TV serial (now mostly lost; it was transmitted live and only partially recorded), The Quatermass Xperiment benefits from its documentary-style approach, menacing score, and some sterling performances.

Particularly notable is Wordsworth (great-great-grandson of the poet) as the pitiable 'monster', whose horrified visage and total lack of dialogue simply adds to the poignancy of his condition (there's an air of the classic Universal Frankenstein Monster's pathos).

Conversely, Donlevy's aggressive performance has been the subject of continued controversy, but his casting was a sop to the Stateside market. The ex-soldier and Hollywood tough guy replaced the first, very English and very cerebral Quatermass, played by Reginald Tate.

In the original TV version, Tate's Quatermass had 'talked' the monster to death, appealing to the last vestiges of its humanity. As Kneale (who due to contractual obligations, had no input) griped, "Mr Donlevy? He could have taken on aliens bare-handed".

Despite these potential drawbacks, Guest makes a virtue of the low budget (£42,000), substituting genuine chills for effects and action - although a culminating glimpse of the hideous beastie leaves viewers in no doubt about the horrific consequences, should this one get away (it's potential to reproduce is as terrible as that of The Thing).

While the final shot, of an unrepentant Quatermass - perhaps the real 'monster' here - launching another rocket, is arguably the most chilling image of all.


A fine example of British filmed science fiction at its best. This Hammer production intelligently condenses Nigel Kneale's teleplay into a moody and fascinating thriller.

Yes, the special effects are dated, as is the production design (the very 50's style rocket ship with its big fins and riveted bulkheads is very quaint). And in comparison to the other four Quatermass features, is the least ambitious in scope (especially compared to the superbly outre Quatermass and the Pit) and has the weakest of the Professor Quatermass actors (Brian Donlevy always struck me as a bit too stiff and, well, American).

Yet, the film does what all good science fiction does: take a concept, then play out the various scenarios and consequences that result. In this case, man encounters an unknown organism from space - an entity that is capable of absorbing any living matter, taking on its mass and characteristics.

Parts of the film resemble the standard "monster on the loose" or "it came from outer space" flicks that dominated drive-ins at the time, but Kneale's script is wisely constructed like a police procedural, and Val Guest directs it like a film noir mystery.

See it. It's definitely worth your time.


Brian Donlevy plays Professor Quatermass in the Quatermass Xperiment. Quatermass is a very human hero. He is compassionate, but also driven by an obsession to understand what is "outside the atmosphere." This film along with Quatermass II and Quatermass and the Pit paint a very bleak picture of Earth as a very small, fragile island in an immense hostile sea. Donlevy's Quatermass is willing to make any sacrifice to protect the Earth against the dangers of outerspace, even willing to sacrifice the people around him. The film has many other strong performances. Jack Warner plays a delightfully quirky Inspector Lomax. I really liked the way Lomax and Quatermass irritate each other in the pursuit of their investigations. Richard Wordsworth does a good job as the astronaut victim of Quatermass' experiment, and Margia Dean does a good job of portraying his wife as a strong and competent woman who doesn't understand what is going on, she just wants her husband to be okay. The special effects are really pretty good. The rocket ship is very good, and the monster, while not convincing by 90s standards, would have scared my pants off as a kid. I'm sure it scared a lot of people in the 50s when the film came out. Quatermass Xperiment should be recognized as a SF classic.


Always enjoyed the great acting of Brian Donlevy in most of his films and for some reason I missed this film or series he appeared in. Brian Donlevy, (Prof. Bernard Quartermass), "Kiss of Death",'47, specializes in Space Exploration and had a rocket crash back on earth and some very strange things started to happen through out England. The film takes you from local police departments to the London Zoo and many Medical Labs and some good CSI and DNA samples even in the year 1955. This Sci-Fi film was way a head of its time and did a very good job of showing what a 1955 rocket into space would look like and it will definitely make you laugh in comparison to 2006! This was a very well acted film by most of the actors, I was surprised to learn that Brian Donlevy was related to Bela Lugosi Jr. as a Father-in-Law and the fact that Donlevy had quite a colorful life off the Stage.


THE CREEPING UNKNOWN (The American title for this film) moves at a quick pace, it never tires. There is sympathy for the astronaut who returns to earth, only to have a blistery, blob like creature grow around him. That gives it the feel of a classic Universal horror film. My favorite scene is the first view of the monster. Director Val Guest that seeing the monster head on would probably look too phony, this being a lower budgeted film. We see monster on a TV monitor of a television camera that happens to be nearby. This kills any details giving it away we are looking at a toy monster. Brian Donlevy's rather emotionless Quartermass would of been good as a supporting character, but not the lead. He comes across too much like a Brooklyn businessman.


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.