Several years after the previous serial took place, Professor Quatermass is trying to perfect a dangerously unstable nuclear-powered rocket engine. After a disastrous test firing in ... See full summary »
Several years after the previous serial took place, Professor Quatermass is trying to perfect a dangerously unstable nuclear-powered rocket engine. After a disastrous test firing in Australia, his future son-in-law, Captain John Dillon, draws the Professor's attention to a strange hollow meteorite which interrupted an Army Training exercise. Quatermass and Dillon investigate, and discover a vast government production plant which has some connection with the meteorites. After coming in contact with the noxious gas contained inside the meteorites, Dillon is taken away by the plant's security guards. When Quatermass presses this issue with an old civil service acquaintance, he learns that the plant is supposedly making synthetic food. Both men learn that this is untrue, and that the true products of the plant will threaten the world itself. Written by
Christopher M. Buckey <ChrisBuckey@nospam.msn.com>
By far the most frightening serial ever shown on British TV and in 1955 the Beeb took the unprecedented step of warning viewers before each episode that under no circumstances should children view this film and anyone of a nervous disposition would be best advised not watching. My own father, a man one would view as strongly masculine to the core was absolutely terrified at the concepts here and deeply disturbed by the music - Holst's Planet Suite: Mars: The Bringer of War. For years after and until his death in fact, he could never listen to that piece of music without leaving the room. I begged mum to let me watch it (I was 10) - she knew me well enough to let me thank God!
The story by scifi specialist Nigel Kneale was hi-tech stuff then. Alien spores infiltrated the earth's atmosphere crashing to earth in small rock-size meteorites. On contact by individuals, the smallest stream of vapor would escape and enter the victim who became "one of them" - looking unchanged, but "taken over" body-snatcher style! As always, a major Government cover-up allowed an enormous domed plant to be built - quite impenetrable and unaccountable seemingly to anyone. Of course, once Bernard Quatermass was on the case, things moved along.
The first real horror came at the end of episode 2 I think when Quatermass stumbles across some poor worker who has tumbled down a flight of metal steps having tried to get into the dome. He is covered with a black shiny resin burning him to death. Might sound a cack now, but in 1955 it was gruesome and horrific. As the extent of the "takeover" becomes apparent, Quatermass and his small team of assistants realise they must break into the dome at all costs. What they find is seared on my mind for all time. The dome is full of boiling slimy protoplasmic shapes which rear up as the camera pans closer..thats the only way to describe them, existing in an artificially created environment which is a replication of the conditions upon their own asteroid. As the credits rolled on that episode, not too many people in Britain would have been saying much!
Ultimately, the dome is destroyed despite the "thing's" valiant attempts to defend their earth-base. The concluding episode saw the locating of the asteroid and Quatermass's final flight there to destroy the alien threat. One would today laugh at both the rocket and the alien life-forms as they all but crushed the ship in the dying seconds. You wouldn't have laughed in 1955!
Val Guest's big screen remake: ENEMY FROM SPACE many years later, was certainly OK but could never hold a candle to this original work which as many have commented is just about impossible to find. I actually have a softcover book of this great film series, complete with the entire dialog and several plates from the old black and white serial. It is one of my favorite possessions.
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