Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 14 - The Quartermass Xperiment [1955]

The Quartermass Xperiment (1955)
Director: Val Guest
Starring: Brian Donlevy, Richard Wordsworth, Margia Dean

The Quartermass Xperiment holds the prestigious position of being the very first horror/scifi movie released by legendary British studio Hammer. Director Val Guest (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, The Abominable Snowman) takes Nigel Kneale's TV series to the big screen, and succeeds in creating a chilling little movie.

Obviously by today's standards this movie is quite tame, with most of the kills happening offscreen and not much in the way of bloodshed. But that actually works in the movie's favour, as it concentrates instead on slowly building suspense and horror.

Three astronauts blast into space and crash back to earth - but two of them are missing. The third one (Richard Wordsworth) survives but starts to change as he recovers, slowly being taken over by some unseen alien presence. Wordsworth is great in working with just a few words of dialogue, using his facial expressions to show his transformation from man to beast. The Quartermass of the title is Professor Bernard Quartermass, the scientist who investigates all these goings on.

The Quartermass Xperiment is all about mood and atmosphere. It's a fantastic piece of 50s scifi-horror, and I look forward to checking out the sequels, Quartermass 2 (1957) and Quartermass and the Pit (1967).

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