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The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

Unrated  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  June 1956 (USA)
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In the countryside of London, a rocket crashes on a farm and Professor Bernard Quatermass and Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax arrive in the spot. The rocket was launched by Prof. Quatermass ... See full summary »



(screenplay) (as Richard Landau) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

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Complete credited cast:
Jack Warner ...
Thora Hird ...
Rosemary 'Rosie' Elizabeth Wrigley
BBC TV producer
David King-Wood ...
Harold Lang ...
Sam Kydd ...
Police sergeant questioning Rosie
Richard Wordsworth ...


In the countryside of London, a rocket crashes on a farm and Professor Bernard Quatermass and Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax arrive in the spot. The rocket was launched by Prof. Quatermass with the astronauts Victor Carroon, Greene and Reichebheim; however only Carroon is found very sick in the cabin. He is transported to a private clinic to stay under observation despite the protests of his wife Mrs. Judith Carroon. She bribes a nurse to bring Carroon to her and she finds that he is transforming into a monster. Carroon escapes killing people and animals during his metamorphosis while the Scotland Yard is hunting him down and Dr. Quatermass discovers that his process is an alien invasion. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Horror | Sci-Fi


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Release Date:

June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Creeping Unknown  »

Box Office


£45,000 (estimated)

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The unusually-spelled "Xperiment" in the title pointed up to British cinemagoers that this was their first X-rated SF film. The British Board of Film Censors had instituted the use of the "X" certificate in 1951 to indicate that certain films had themes that might be too strong or intense for persons under the age of 16. The film's title exploited the fact of receiving this "honor" by the spelling of the word "Xperiment". See more »


Although the newspaper reports all refer to Q1's crash-landing as occurring on the previous night, the "News Chronicle" is dated Saturday October 23 1954 whilst the "Daily Mail" hails from Friday November 12 of the same year. Additionally, after the opening paragraphs, all of the reports are clearly about different subjects (such as a trade union dispute with BEA). See more »


Insp. Lomax: Nobody ever wins a cold war.
See more »


Featured in The World of Hammer: Sci-Fi (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

In my simple Bible way I did a lot of praying.
31 May 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When an experimental rocket ship crashes back down to Earth, Bernard Quatermass is baffled as to why three astronauts went up, but only one has returned. The returning astronaut is Victor Carroon and he's in a bad way. Unable to speak and going thru some sort of metamorphosis, it's not long before he starts to become something that literally threatens all of mankind. Can Quatermass and his team of scientists stop the creeping unknown in its tracks?

The character of Bernard Quatermass was born out of the considerable brain of writer Nigel Kneale. A science boffin and defender of the Earth against other worldly beasties, Quatermass was first seen on the screen in the BBC TV serial in 1953. Here that bastion of British horror, Hammer Film Productions, adapts a story for the screen and produce a gritty science fiction thriller that doesn't resort to the hokey monster schlock conventions so evident in the 1950s. Directed by Val Guest {who co-writes with Richard H. Landau}, the Quatermass franchise {sequels, more TV serials and another linked film would follow down the line} always thrived because of its intelligence and willingness to explore the science surrounding its stories. Here with this one we get an interesting look at the political aspects that surround the space programme, and this in turn dovetails nicely with the police investigation as the "Yard" search for the man, soon to be monster.

Effectively using London locations such as Westminster Abbey, Guest's movie also pulses with great characters. Not just those on the trail of the stricken astronaut, but also those that he {it} comes into contact with; such as a Frankenstein like encounter with a young girl (Jane Asher) playing with her doll. It's well thought out stuff, even if budget restrictions and time scale can't quite fully realise Kneale's creation. Of the cast, Brian Donlevy steps into the shoes of brainy Bernard, seen as an odd casting choice by many, it proves to be quite astute. Quatermass is straight laced and a stickler for his science, Donlevy's mannerisms and gruff exterior suit the role very well. Britain's favourite copper Jack Warner of course plays the inspector leading up the investigation, and as usual he's as solid as a rock, while Richard Wordsworth is brilliant as the doomed Victor Carroon. There's also little turns from British treasures like Thora Hird, Lionel Jeffries and Gordon Jackson.

With its writing smarts appeasing the adults and having enough of a creature feature vibe to entertain the kids, The Quatermass Experiment is a classy bit of 50s sci-fi that covers most of the bases. 8/10

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