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The Quatermass Xperiment (The Creeping Unknown)

4.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Quatermass Xperiment (The Creeping Unknown)
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  • Quatermass and The Pit - The Classic 1958-59 BBC Television Version Starring Andre Morell
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Editorial Reviews

A spacecraft returns to earth with only one terrified passenger left aboard...and a creeping monster.

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Donlevy, Margia Dean, Jack Warner, Richard Wordsworth
  • Directors: Val Guest
  • Writers: Val Guest, Richard H. Landau, Nigel Kneale
  • Producers: Anthony Hinds, Robert L. Lippert
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: October 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,250 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Sunday TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The second and third films in the quintessentially British science fiction trilogy about Bernard Quatermass and his investigations of strange happenings in London and the English countryside have been available on DVD for years. But this one, the first of the series, has not. Fans had to watch "The Quatermass Xperiment" (a.k.a. "The Creeping Unknown") on bootleg DVDs or even video tapes. This studio release was thus very eagerly anticipated.

It's a short film, at about 82 minutes, but it packs in a lot of story. An ill-fated rocket carrying a crew of three men soars to an altitude of 1,500 miles and, after a 57-hour flight, crashes back to Earth outside of London. The sole surviving astronaut inexorably mutates into a horrible creature that absorbs any kind of living organism (plant, animal or human) and grows to enormous size as it satisfies its insatiable appetites. It's a simple concept, but it's presented extremely well. The special effects are great for their day, especially the eerie scenes of the rocket poking up like a giant lawn dart from an English field, and the quality of the DVD itself is excellent. The picture is crisp, sharp and stable, with excellent contrast, and the sound track is clear and distinct. In a couple of spots near the end, the music slightly overwhelms the dialogue, but I suspect that's intentional. Also, the characters sometimes talk very fast, which means American ears may have trouble picking out every word of the Queen's English. This does not detract from the excellence of the production.

I've seen "The Quatermass Xperiment" probably about four times over the last several decades, and each time I pick up something new or an additional nuance. The film has layers of complexity and detail that you may not notice on first viewing.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Fans of Doctor Who, Blake 7, and later BBC ventures will love this older U.K. science fiction. Unfortunately the British were not very good about recording their television programs, or keeping the tapes afterwards, and thus we will not be seeing the televised original for this story. The original live six-part 1953 TV production went some 200 minutes. The Quatermass author, Nigel Kneale, was not too happy about the new version's reduction to 82 minutes. Most who saw the TV version thought that it was superior to the movie.
Kneale wrote a number of TV programs that were eventually adapted to film. However, he will always remain famous for Quatermass. The movies would parallel a series of TV productions: Quatermass II (1955) and Quatermass and the Pit (1958-9). Kneale would conclude the series with Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979).
The UK theatrical remake of The Quatermass Experiment (1955) was directed by Val Guest and the screenplay was written by Val Guest and Richard Landau. The part of Professor Bernard Quatermass was played by Brian Donlevy. Donlevy was chosen because it was thought an American in the role would give the film more box office appeal in the U.S. However, in hindsight, it was a little like giving the role of Doctor Who to an obvious Texan or person from the Bronx. Sometimes accents are important. Donlevy did a professional job, although a few cast members complained that he had a drinking problem.
The experimental rocket Q1 crashes in England. Quatermass, the somewhat reckless creator of the ship races to the site. Only one of the three astronauts is found alive, Victor Carroon (played by Richard Wordsworth). The other men have vanished.
This mystery drives the first part of the film.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"The Creeping Unknown" (1956) was directed by Val Guest. This wasn't Hammer Film's first sci-fi film, but it was their first foray into horror. This film was based on the 1953 BBC Television serial "The Quatermass Experiment". In the U.K. the film came out with the title "The Quatermass Xperiment", as Hammer Films was eager to exploit the X rating of the film.The film is about the only survivor of a spacecraft that has crash landed back on earth. The astronaut is traumatized and unable to communicate. During the astronaut's hospitalization it becomes apparent that he is no longer the same man who left for space. This film is a memorable and intriguing look at the horror of the unknown, and has its place alongside other alien possession films like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"(1956). The film was followed by "Enemy from Space" (1957: also known as Quatermass II), "Five Million Years to Earth"(1968:also known as Quatermass and the Pit), and the "Quartermass Conclusion"(1980)

The full frame image resolution is very good with deep blacks, and is relatively clean. The sound is also very clear, and marks a huge upgrade from an earlier version I have of the film. MGM has put together the best quality dvd available of the film.

update March 2015:
I have recently upgraded this film with the blu-ray Kino Lorber version which is in a 1:66:1 frame format compared to the full frame (1:33:1) of the dvd disc.The upgrade is worth it for the further clarity of the images, and especially for all of the added special features since the dvd had none. There is an audio commentary with the director and Marcus Hearn, and a number of other features, including an interview with Val Guest, as well as a featurette that compares the British and American versions of the film, and a featurette about the making of the film.
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