The Quatermass Xperiment  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Quatermass Xperiment (US title: The Creeping Unknown) is a 1955 British science fiction horror film. Made by Hammer Film Productions, it was based on the 1953 BBC Television serial The Quatermass Experiment written by Nigel Kneale. It was directed by Val Guest and stars Brian Donlevy as the eponymous Professor Bernard Quatermass. Jack Warner, Richard Wordsworth and Margia Dean appear in supporting roles.

The plot of the film involves the return to Earth of astronaut Victor Carroon (Wordsworth), who has become the first man in space in a rocket ship of Quatermass's design. However, it becomes very clear that something infected Carroon during the flight, and he rapidly begins mutating into an alien organism which, if it spores, will destroy humanity. Quatermass and his associates have just a few hours to track the creature down and prevent an apocalypse.

The film presents a heavily compressed version of the events of the original television serial. The most significant plot change occurs at the climax of the film. In the television version, Quatermass appeals to the last vestiges of Carroon's humanity and convinces him to commit suicide in order to save the world. In the film, Quatermass kills the creature by electrocution. This change, along with Donlevy's brusque interpretation of the title role, upset Nigel Kneale who frequently criticised the film. In his approach to making the fantastic nature of the film's plot convincing to audiences, Val Guest aimed to employ a high degree of realism, directing the film in the manner more akin to that of a newsreel.

The film enjoyed a highly successful release in the United Kingdom, forming one half of the highest grossing double bill release of 1955. It was also the first Hammer production to attract the attention of a major distributor in the United States, in this case United Artists who distributed the film under the title The Creeping Unknown. The film received a mixed critical reception on its initial release but in the intervening years has come to be viewed as a classic of the genre. Particular praise is reserved for the tortured performance of Richard Wordsworth as the possessed Victor Carroon.

Its success led to Hammer producing an increasing number of horror films, including two sequels Quatermass 2 (1957) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967), leading to them becoming synonymous with the genre. The Quatermass Xperiment is widely regarded as the first of these "Hammer Horrors".

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Quatermass Xperiment" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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