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X the Unknown (1956)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | May 1957 (USA)
A radioactive, mud-like creature terrorizes a Scottish village.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writer:

(story and screenplay)
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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:

Can anything escape its terror? 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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The U.S. version shown on TV for many years contained only introductory music under the Warners Brothers title, with no opening title music. The British version, featured on later DVD versions, contained James Bernard's opening title music. See more »

Goofs

Near the end, when John is backing up the jeep to the pit, he is sweating profusely. In the next scene his face is dry. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Adam Royston: It's on its way for the biggest meal of its life.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Tower (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22: V. Finale: Allegro vivace
(uncredited)
Written by Antonín Dvorák
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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.


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