Based upon the 1953 BBC television serial The Quatermass Experiment (The title was changed to The Quatermass Xperiment to market the X Certificate rating received from British Board of Film Censors), this movie was produced in 1955 by the British production company Hammer films, and would later be released in the United States as The Creeping Unknown.
Written by Richard Landau and director Val Guest based on the original story by Nigel Kneale, it is a condensed version of the television serial and tells the tale of Victor Carroon, an astronaut who blasts off into space as a member of a crew of three manning an experimental rocket. After losing contact with Earth, the ship crash lands in a field in England, with only Carroon aboard.
Other than to utter the words “Help me” when rescued, Carroon is in a zombie-like state for the rest of the movie. As Carroon’s condition deteriorates, Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy), the scientist who built and launched the rocket, along with his assistant Briscoe (David King-Wood), are left to figure out what happened on the ship.
Luckily for Carroon, his wife Judith (Margia Dean), is convinced that if she can just get her zombie-like husband home, she can nurse him back to health. Carroon manages to escape which sets off a manhunt led by Inspector Lomax (Jack Warner). Eventually Carroon, who has now transformed into a giant octopus made of phlegm, makes his way to Westminster Abbey where he has to be daelt with.
Released on October 12th by MGM in their manufactured-on-demand Limited Edition Collection series, The Quatermass Xperiment has gained somewhat of a cult status over the years, but more so due to the rarity with which it is shown, than due to the quality of the story or film as a whole. Long at 82 minutes, the movie drags as there is little place for the story to go.
A film is discovered showing what occurred in the ship, but the audience is still left waiting to see what Carroon will turn into. His wife’s refusal to accept that he is a monster is comical, and her dialog sounds dubbed and cartoonish. The transformation of Carroon takes the majority of the film, and when it finally occurs, the audience does not get to Xperience it.
The Quatermass Xperiment looks and sounds good, but the release contains only the U.S. trailer as bonus material. Considering the amount of experts on the genre available, some interviews on the subject of the film would have made for a nice addition to the release.
Recommendation: Too slow to bother with. Many other films of the genre available that will illicit a far better response.