X the Unknown (1956)

Approved  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  May 1957 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 1,770 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 33 critic

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


, (uncredited)


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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)


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


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


Horror | Sci-Fi


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

May 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Het onbekende  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


When the two soldiers "Spider" and "Haggis" are patrolling the crevasse and are confronted by "X", they are both carrying Thompson sub-machine guns. This firearm was never issued to British forces. See more »


Peter Elliott: What happened, sir? I don't understand.
Dr. Adam Royston: Peter, I'm afraid I don't either. Yesterday the material in that container was giving a danger-point radiation reading. Now, as you just saw, it's nothing.
Peter Elliott: But that's impossible! Isn't it?
Dr. Adam Royston: Yesterday I would have said yes, but this fact is inescapable: The energy trapped in that trinium has been sucked right out of it. And furthermore, that window was barred and these doors were locked all night. So whoever it was came in here must be most ... unusual.
See more »


Referenced in The Stuff (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

Enjoyable Sci-Fi, & Well-Crafted For Such a Low Budget Movie
6 December 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Sometimes these low-budget science fiction features are amusing for unintended reasons, but this one is enjoyable because it has an interesting story and because it is well-crafted for such a low-budget movie. Since its effectiveness comes mostly from the story and from the solid acting, even with a bigger budget it might not have been significantly better.

The menace of "X the Unknown" is based on a far-fetched but interesting concept, and the story gets good mileage out of the premise, without pushing it too far. There are a couple of plot holes, but not so bad that they pull it down, and in general the story has the kind of internal logic that holds it together as long as you grant the premise for the sake of a good story.

The cast does surprisingly well. The characters are not the kind of roles that are particularly difficult to play, but they are the kind of roles that are easy to overplay, and that often are overplayed. Here the actors make their characters lifelike without trying to grab the attention, and it works pretty well.

Dean Jagger has good presence as Professor Royston, yet he avoids the kinds of stereotypes that sometimes make such characters annoying. Some of his little habits and mannerisms help to make the professor more human. Leo McKern also turns in a good performance. Edward Chapman's character is quite one-dimensional, yet he does a creditable job with it. It's also rather fun to see a very young-looking Anthony Newley in a small but entertaining role.

All of the cast members do a good job with a script that is plain but workmanlike. The special effects are rudimentary in technique, but they are good enough, and it's certainly preferable to have plain-looking special effects and a good story than to have flashy visuals and a dreary, pointless story. As a whole, "X the Unknown" delivers good science fiction without frills or padding, and it's easily among the better of the 1950s low-budget sci-fi movies.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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