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X: The Unknown (1956)

Approved  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  May 1957 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,688 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 31 critic

Radioactive oil-like creature terrorizes a Scottish village during the 1950's.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writer:

(story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Edward Chapman ...
John Elliott
...
Insp. 'Mac' McGill
...
LCpl. 'Spider' Webb
Jameson Clark ...
Jack Harding
William Lucas ...
Peter Elliott
Peter Hammond ...
Lt. Bannerman
Marianne Brauns ...
Zena, the Nurse
Ian MacNaughton ...
Haggis (as Ian McNaughton)
Michael Ripper ...
Sgt. Harry Grimsdyke
John Harvey ...
Maj. Cartwright
Edwin Richfield ...
Soldier Burned on Back
Jane Aird ...
Vi Harding
Norman Macowan ...
Old Tom
Neil Hallett ...
Unwin (as Neil Hallet)
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Storyline

British Army radiation drills at a remote Scottish base attract a subterranean, radioactive entity of unknown nature that vanishes, leaving two severely radiation-burned soldiers... and a "bottomless" crack in the earth. Others who meet the thing in the night suffer likewise, and with increasing severity; it seems to be able to "absorb" radiation from any source, growing bigger and bigger. What is it?? How do you destroy a thing that "feeds" on energy? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

NOTHING CAN STOP IT! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Het onbekende  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Jimmy Sangster, director Leslie Norman was not overly interested in making this film, but did anyway for the sake of work. Dean Jagger and other crew members, not to mention Hammer brass, all found Norman very difficult to work with, so much so that despite the film receiving some good notices, Hammer never worked with Norman again. See more »

Goofs

Lansing watches the stick sinking in a pool of liquid, but in a later long shot the stick in seen firmly standing in dry ground. See more »

Quotes

Peter Elliott: How do you explain it, sir? All this extraordinary damage just to steal an old sample container?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Stuff (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

Another Great Hammer Outing
6 June 2002 | by (Fort Worth, Texas) – See all my reviews

Hammer Films was known mostly for its horror outings like the Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy films. It did, however, score well in the science fiction department with such hits as the Quatermass series, "The Lost Continent" and this movie.

The film was originally pitches as a potential sequel in the Quatermass series until author Nigel Kneale objected. Thus, the scientist became Alan Royston (played by Dean Jagger of "Twelve O'Clock High" fame) who worked at a nuclear plant instead of a rocket base and the location was moved to Scotland to avoid comparisons to Quatermass.

Ironically, the film still kept the same black & white photography, as well as the creepy string score.

The story involves radioactive mud (sounds silly unless you actually stayed awake during physical science class) that makes it way up to the surface of the earth every so often looking for new energy. Previous trips found nothing but fossil fuel. Now, however, nuclear energy is abundant. The race is on to not just figure out what is turning people into crispy critters, but how to stop something made of pure energy.

Dean Jagger as Royston is quite good and the exact opposite of Brian Donlevy's Quatermass. Leo McKern (of "The Prisoner") is on hand, as is the late British pop star and actor Anthony Newley as a soldier unfortunate enough to be on guard duty when X, the Unknown strikes.

The special effects are adequate, although British films still couldn't show explosions that didn't look like match heads flaring. The visual effects are really creepy, from radiation burns on a boy's chest to a doctor's face melting like wax to a security guard's body literally deflating like a balloon. The ending features a surprise, as well, leaving the viewer with the feeling that, although man appears to have triumphed again, something may still be amiss.

All in all, a good film, especially late on a Saturday night.


19 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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