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Enemy from Space (1957)
"Quatermass 2" (original title)

 -  Sci-Fi | Horror  -  September 1957 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,937 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 45 critic

Professor Quatermass, trying to gather support for his Lunar colonisation project, is intrigued by mysterious traces that have been showing up.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
John Longden ...
Lomax (as John Longdon)
Sidney James ...
Jimmy Hall (as Sydney James)
Bryan Forbes ...
Marsh
William Franklyn ...
Dr. Brand
Vera Day ...
Sheila
Charles Lloyd Pack ...
Dawson
Tom Chatto ...
John Van Eyssen ...
The P.R.O.
...
Gorman
Michael Ripper ...
Ernie
John Rae ...
McLeod
Marianne Stone ...
Secretary
Ronald Wilson ...
Young Man
Jane Aird ...
Mrs. McLeod
Edit

Storyline

Professor Quatermass, trying to gather support for Moon colonisation his project to colonize the Moon, is intrigued by the mysterious traces that have been showing up on his radar - meteorites crashing down?. Following them to the place where they should be landing he finds a destroyed village, a mysterious factory too close to his designs for the Moon colony for comfort, and some strange, aerodynamic objects containing a mysterious, ammonia-based gas that infects one of his assistants. Officially, the factory is producing synthetic food; but despite the veil of secrecy surrounding it Quatermass succeeds in finding out it harbours aliens with deadly designs on the Earth... Second in Hammer Films' trio of screen versions for Nigel Kneale's classic 1950s BBC serials, with the same director and star as 1955's "The Quatermass Experiment". Written by Jorge Mourinha <rjmourinha@mail.telepac.pt>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A horrible enemy from the unknown strikes terror across the earth!

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Enemy from Space  »

Box Office

Budget:

£92,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ruined town of Winnerden Flats is at Ivinghoe Beacon (along The Ridgeway), near the village of Ivinghoe in Buckinghamshire, and is owned and protected by the National Trust. See more »

Goofs

In London, when the inspection tour guide has closed the door of the second Rolls Royce, a lorry is just about to pass by, but in the next shot it has become a bus. See more »

Connections

Follows The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Midsummer Mood
(uncredited)
Music by Kenneth Essex
Paxton Music Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

DISTURBING CLASSIC OF 50"s SCIENCE-FICTION
27 January 2000 | by (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

This was one of the first of its kind; a subtlety scary vision of a secret alien takeover. X-FILES may owe a debt to this low-budget, but nevertheless effective film of the powers-that-be who are conspiring with the invaders, and one lone, determined scientist who accidentally uncovers the sinister plot.

QUATERMASS II (U.S. title: ENEMY FROM SPACE) was produced before INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the film it is often compared to, due to their thematic similarities (loss of identity, social oppression, dangers of conformity, and blind allegiance to a greatly questionable, authoritarian power). However, it was released in the U.S. shortly after BODY SNATCHERS, probably making it look like a copycat to some.

Superb writer Nigel Kneale (excellent script, highly original for its time, derived from the earlier BBC serial) was known to strongly despise Brian Donleavy's gruff performance as the lead character. Kneale did not like the fact that Donleavy presented the character as a cold, methodical misanthrope who treats his colleagues like expendable underlings. He will probably want to boil me in oil for saying this, but I felt that presenting the lead character as morally ambivalent and ethically questionable jettisoned the standard 50's scientist/hero sterotype (for once he is not nice and charming). It also added a further degree of tension to the well-plotted story. In many ways, his alienated character is somewhat alien; perhaps that's the only true way to resist social pressures and conditioning. The allegory here is strong.

As the story opens, Quatermass is driving one night on a remote country road. He is furious that the stodgy Whitehall bureaucrats rejected his funding request for a proposed moon colonization project. A speeding car nearly hits him head-on as it runs off the road. The shaken passengers are a frightened woman and her boyfriend, who is in a crazed state, and has a strange black mark on his face.

Quatermass returns to his isolated lab, where radar reveals to his assistants that many small meteor particles (at least that's what they assume they are) have descended over a rural village known as Wynerton Flats.

Going out there with his colleague, Marsh, they first discover his moon project, fully constructed, and some small, mysterious rocks. As Marsh examines one, it emits an eerie gas and pops in his face, leaving the weird black mark. Strange soldiers arrive, behaving like aloof zombies, abduct Marsh, strong-arm Quatermass in the typical fascist tradition, and order him to leave. (There may be one flaw here: Why didn't the "soldiers" either abduct or kill Quatermass, instead of letting him go, so he can inform?)

Naturally the authorities all have tight lips about the secret activities at Wynerton Flats, but Quatermass manages to convince a few officials to go out there with him. A government aid (with that strange black mark on his wrist) conducts a formal tour of the plant, where everything seems to be normal. Not so. The small group is indoctrinated by the zombies (who resemble Nazis), but Quatermass manages to escape.

(This scene truly exposes Donleavy's ruthless side: He and a woman are taken into a large dome, but Quatermass flees, leaving the woman behind, without any concern for her fate. Hell, he doesn't even abide by the old fifties hero tradition by risking his life to save the distressed damsel. In many ways Quatermass was an ahead-of-his-time anti-hero. I always felt that this added a disquieting strength to the drama and the severity of the dire situation, but I guess that Kneale will still vehemently disagree).

I'll stop here, but don't worry, the worse is still to come. The sense of growing unease and mounting terror (strong qualities of your finer British Science Fiction at that time) escalates. Be patient, for it does carefully build into a total state of alarm, as Quatermass and the local angered citizens challenge the invaders (who have taken over most of the government and military officials) to a brutal showdown. There is something highly menacing in those domes.

This impressive film is true Science Fiction at its best. It thrills without pandering and is thoughtful to the point of disturbing. You can't trust anyone. Its social and political implications are definitely troubling. This is not for your Lucas and Spielberg crowd, for we're not talking about commercial catering to eight-year-olds. Val Guest directs in a cold, cynical Kubrickian manner, accentuating the high degree of paranoia, and the picture's black & white photography conveys a bleak, creepy mood. (Sorry, no pretty pictures here). The intriguing story takes on true nightmarish proportions.

The few effects won't win any CGI awards (don't forget, computers weren't around then) but the briefly glimpsed monster (in the gothic Lovecraft tradition) is quite sickening. After all, it can manipulate man's dirty politics, you can't get more reprehensible than that.

From the late sixties to the late eighties this film was unavailable to the public, and it was feared to be permanently lost, but it later was released on video and shown occasionally on the Science Fiction Channel. Many notable Science Fiction and Horror authors (I believe that Harlan Ellison and Stephen King were among them) have championed this small, but remarkable early Hammer production. This is the film that many others have "borrowed from." Just a polite way of saying RIPPED-OFF!

For those seeking an intelligent challenge, check it out.




33 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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