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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quatermass Experiment - a touch of real tragedy
The plot of 'The Quatermass Experiment' is straightforward enough: Britain sends 3 men into space: 2 mysteriously disappear, and no. 3 (Victor Carroon) returns, very seriously ill. During the course of the film we watch helplessly as Carroon slowly transmutes into an alien monster.
Unlike so many sci-fi B movies including recent ones, this story generates an...
Published on 21 April 2004 by Humphrey Reader

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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No as good as it could have been
Nigel Kneale's character Professor Bernard Quatermass was a beautifully written very English character, but unfortunately back in the 50s, film makers saw fit to cast all lead roles as American stereotypes. Here we have a fantastic film that was the catalyst to all the Hammer films over the next 25 or so years that is simply spoiled by the actor Brian Donlevy who shouts...
Published on 19 Sep 2003 by carl iredale


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quatermass Experiment - a touch of real tragedy, 21 April 2004
By 
Humphrey Reader (Weston-super-Mare, NORTH SOMERSET United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
The plot of 'The Quatermass Experiment' is straightforward enough: Britain sends 3 men into space: 2 mysteriously disappear, and no. 3 (Victor Carroon) returns, very seriously ill. During the course of the film we watch helplessly as Carroon slowly transmutes into an alien monster.
Unlike so many sci-fi B movies including recent ones, this story generates an extraordinary amount of sympathy for the 'alien' predator. So often it's cardboard courageous humans against cardboard evil aliens (or, occasionally, over-sentimentalised ones). This film is on a different planet! The reason I say 'tragedy' is that we see at every stage how Carroon's humanity is struggling with the alien infestation and yet is ultimately doomed to fail. It is a tour-de-force performance by Richard Wordsworth (direct line descendent of the poet by the way). He is given just 2 or 3 words in the whole film with all the rest being achieved by body movements, gestures and, above all, an extraordinarily expressive face. Sometimes he's the pitiless alien, but sometimes also he's tragically human. Even where he kills there is evidence of some compunction or reluctance (especially a chemist whose shop the Carroon/Alien raids for drugs). He actually resists the urge to kill (and absorb on the alien's behalf) his wife and a little girl who chances on him whilst playing amongst the London docks.
Other nice touches are Mrs Carroon who shows up Quatermass's egoism very effectively, the solid senior policeman Lomax (Jack Warner), some amusing eccentrics like the bag lady played by Thora Hird, and the general air of English understatement and lack of panic. Little touches (Lomax the solid 'Bible man', Mrs Lomax with her teapot, the chemist's shop...) create a familiar, everyday English ambience which so effectively offsets the alien horror. I like too the contrast of rather trite remarks like 'He knows we're trying to help him...' with the true nature of Carroon's 'illness'. Finally let us not forget the special effects which show what can be achieved using real materials rather than fancy computer graphics.
The reason I give it 4 stars not 5 is, I'm afraid, Mr Donlevy as Quatermass himself whom I find rather irritating. In particular I find his very brash manner rather forced and artificial: it jars with the rest of the film. One of the best moments is watching Mrs Carroon put the bumptious Prof so firmly in his place, and feel more could have been made of the contrast between Quatermass's shallow 'science is wonderful gee-whiz' rhetoric and the horrifying reality. A looking-forward to the Alien series in this respect, perhaps. Also some of it is a little implausible - would it really have been possible to connect up and concentrate all that electrical output in so short a time? However these quibbles don't stop me from returning to the film again and again.
Those of a certain age (I'm pushing 50) will appreciate the portrayal of the working London docks before they turned into chi-chi riverside apartments, of the NCO type (we're only 10 years after the end of WW2) who dons other uniforms (zoo-keeper, reception clerk) in Civvy Street, and even the Rootes garage glimpsed near the end.
Buy it before it goes out of print again!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sci Fi, 7 Jun 2006
By 
D. I. Shipley "David Shipley" (KENT United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The Quatermass Xperiment as it was titled for its cinema release, is very simply one of the British Film Industry's classic films. It was a trail blazer for the then fledgling Hammer Films, and because of its success, Hammer were able to go forward and make the incredible catalogue of films that they would eventually end up with.
Director Val Guest condenses the much longer TV series down into a 80 minute film. The result is a gem of a film that has stood the test of time, and is still a compelling watch.

Basically the plot sees the headstrong Professor Quatermass send a rocket into space without official clearance. The rocket subsequently returns to Earth but of the three crew, there is only one astronaut remaining on board.
This sole survivor is played by Richard Wordsworth (a descendant of the poet - William Wordsworth). He gives a compelling and unsettling performance as Victor Kerroon, a man who undergoing metamorphasis into something monstrous. His scene with the small girl on the London Docks is a powerful example of this, and the viewer can see many similarities with the famous scene from the original Frankenstein, where Boris Karloff's monster has a similar, almost surreal encounter with a small child.
Helping Quatermass is Jack Warner's Police inspector, a typically solid performance from Warner in a role which plays to his strengths.
Quatermass and the Police and Army face a race against time to track down this ever changing monstrousity before it is too late.
SFX are good for the time and can still stand muster with some of today's.
The atmosphere and sets are truly unique, and the viewer is treated to a chase amidst smoggy and still bomb damaged 1950s London. A particular setting which is both atmospheric and unsettling in its own right.

I originally did not like Brian Donlevy in the role but have softened towards his performance on repeat viewings. Director Val Guest also makes it quite clear that he chose Donlevy because he was readly identifiable as a man of the people, instead of someone aloof, and that rings true. There was also the consideration of at that time, to get a US distributor, you needed an American actor in the role, therefore, Guest makes it quite clear in the commentary, that he was doubly glad to land Donlevy.
Additionally, in all fairness to the actor, Donlevy's final words also are chilling in this film, and it is hard to imagine a more refined Quatermass saying them with the same chilling intensity and conviction.

The film is available on Region 2 DVD and it is a brilliant transfer. Picture is superb and is one of the best black and white pictures that I have seen on DVD. Sound is obviously Mono but is still nonetheless impressive.
The Quatermass Xperiment can be obtained as a single DVD or as part of a double disc box set, along with Quatermass 2.
The latter is my preferred option, the box set is high quality and each film has its own booklet full of background details such as interviews with the Director and cast, original reviews, pictures etc.
This is a Region 2 DVD, so anyone living in the USA will need a Multi Region player to play it back on. However, another example of a film well worth upgrading to Multi Region play for.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have rocket, will transform, 13 May 2010
By 
Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) [IMPORT] (DVD)
The rocket, the Q1, returns from space and crashes in the British countryside. One survivor, astronaut Victor Carroon staggers from the craft, but where have the other two crew members gone, and more importantly what has Carroon brought back to Earth with him? The man responsible for the space programme, Professor Bernard Quatermass(Brian Donlevy) soon finds himself in a race against time to save the world from a terrible threat from outer space!
I know strictly speaking that 'The Curse Of Frankenstein' was Hammer Films' first 'proper' horror film, but I like to think of this film as their first foray into horror territory. Okay, strictly speaking 'The Quatermass Experiment' is a classic science fiction film, but it does cross over the border into horror on many occasions. It was successful, and probably encouraged Hammer to continue down the path of making films to scare people, so we all have a lot to thank this film for.
It's not as accomplished as either its sequel, the classic Quatermass 2, or the third in the triology, Quatermass And The Pit, which was made by the same studio several years later, but this is an exciting, and at times genuinely creepy film in its own right.
One major critisism is the casting of Donlevy as Quatermass. I think it should be remembered that it was a very common practise to cast slightly over the hill American actors in leading roles in British films to assist box office takings. Forrest Tucker and Dean Jagger were also recruited by Hammer for this purpose. So Donlevy can hardly be blamed, although his one note, staccato delivery of his lines does take some getting used to. By the time he reprised the role in Quatermass 2, he was far more assured in the role, and delivered a far better performance. If Donlevy's can be counted as a weak performance in this film, then you can balance it against the superb performance from Richard Wordsworth as Carroon. His almost completely silent portrayal of the tragic astronaut, desperately trying to communicate with a world that becomes very alien to him, as he is assimilated with the alien lifeform, is a great success. There is also excellent support from British character actors such as Lionel Jefferies, Jack Warner, Maurice Kauffman and Thora Hird.
The special effects may seem a bit primitive to today's jaded audiences, but since when has British Science Fiction, a genre that relied on great ideas overcoming budgetary limitations, ever been judged on special effects alone. Okay, we can all laugh at the quivering creature in Westminster Abbey, but I bet it gave a few scares back in the day.
The most memorable segment of the film for me is when Quatermass and others sit down to watch the surviving footage from inside the space craft. These scenes have a suitably eerie quality all of their own.
So this is the film that started it all. 'The Curse Of Frankenstein' is quite rightly regarded as the film that kick started a golden age of British horror, but the seeds had beeen sown by 'The Quatermass Experiment' and its ilk. In that respect, this excellent little film is a very important film indeed.
This review is for the Dutch Region 2 release, a clear full screen transfer with sound that is occasionally muffled. Nice to have two episodes of 'World Of Hammer' in the extras though, along with three Hammer trailers. 4 out of 5
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Successful Xperiment, 29 Aug 2006
By 
Shaun Anderson (Nottingham/Hereford, England, UK) - See all my reviews
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Although generally regarded as Hammer's first foray into the realm of science-fiction, two previous films THE FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE and SPACEWAYS had suggested with their overall ineptitude that genre films were perhaps something Hammer should steer clear of. But in re-making a BBC TV serial for the big screen Hammer had an ace up their sleeve and an audience ready made for the big screen adventures of Prof. Bernard Quatermass. Despite the terrible miscasting of Brian Donlevy as Quatermass, the film succeeds admirably. It still feels odd to watch a Hammer film in Black and White, but this adds to the documentary like quality that veteran director Val Guest was seeking (to aid this attempt at verisimilitude, we also have newspaper headlines and on a few occasions some hand-held camera work - very rare for 1955). With its dedication to actual scientific concepts and well written and researched source material by Nigel Kneale (a writer who is criminally under-rated) THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT retains a topical feel. In Quatermass' constant clashes with authority, Kneale threads in a number of critiques about modern society and its absurd predilection for red tape and bureaucracy. Despite these and other things, when reduced to its basic narrative, this film is an exploration of possession and feeds into the same paranoid fears that Don Siegel exposed so well with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Gothic elements abound also, with the eerie isolated location that opens the film and the idea of double or multiple identities. Sadly Kneale over-emphasises Britain's importance in the world and the idea of the United Kingdom being the first country to send manned rockets into space is rather quaint and somewhat amusing. Donlevy's boorish and arrogant Quatermass is balanced well with the genuinely moving and upsetting performance by Richard Wordsworth as the invaded astronaut Caroon. For pure atmosphere and tension this remains a high watermark for Hammer, only bettered perhaps by the sequel QUATERMASS 2
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN AMERICAN QUATERMASS IN QUEEN ELIZABETH'S ENGLAND, 21 Jun 2005
By 
J. D. Cheeseright "Kinggama" (East Molesey, UK) - See all my reviews
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Yes, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite the casting of the name role, which even Nigel Neale disapproved of. The story is all there, the tension is kept wound up, and there is a terrific climax in Westminster Abbey with a classic monster. I think it was more convincing to electrocute it than talk it to death as in the original! Interesting to see a young Jane Asher in a minor role. I think this production works better than the recent BBC live version which copped out of the finale. What a pity the BBC lost most of the original TV Series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, 8 April 2011
This review is from: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) [IMPORT] (DVD)
Proper classic vehicles and a good plot. Of its time and the better for it. Since the original BBC serial has missing episodes, this is a worthwhile purchase in my opinion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thanks nigel kneale, 3 Oct 2011
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This review is from: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) [IMPORT] (DVD)
Remember watching this as a kid and being scarred out of my whits, how many actors can play a character these days without uttering a word and be totally convincing? Richard Wordsworth who plays Victor Caroon did, the film is a bit out dated, but back in the 50's it must have being futuristic, anyway it knocks socks off so called sci-fi movies these days, remember, NO computer aided graphics those days, Jack Warner appears as our wholesome inspector. I think the movie still stands up well for today and im glad i bought it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quatermass Makes it To DVD at Last!, 11 May 2003
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This is one of my favourite films of all time. The film which began Hammer's 14 years of successful movie making until the late 1960s when it started to go terribly wrong. Adapted from a very successful television serial first shown in 1953 when Television was available in only a few homes at that time. Brought to the screen in 1956 and packed cinemas everywhere. Brian Donlevy, an American actor who was brought in to portray Quatermass in order to sell the film to the American market does manage to play his part quite well. Despite the writer's Nigel Kneale's own misgivings about Donlevy's acting, the whole film under Val Guest's slick direction does convey a sense of suspense and horror throughout. The pace never lets up, from the landing of the rocket in a corn field to the final scenes in Westminster Abbey when the creature is destroyed with electricity. If you are a Hammer fan like me, you will almost certainly add this classic to your DVD collection. Sound and picture are quite good too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Science Fiction, 25 Mar 2014
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I choose this rating, because, the classics are the best,
Special effects were superb.
I would recommend it to everyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great film, 8 Oct 2013
By 
John Wells (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) [IMPORT] (DVD)
Great film shame its in black and white took me back to when i first so the film when i was a kid
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