6.1/10
2,528
71 user 44 critic

X the Unknown (1956)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | May 1957 (USA)
Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
A radioactive, mud-like creature terrorizes a Scottish village.

Directors:

Leslie Norman, Joseph Losey (uncredited)

Writers:

Jimmy Sangster (story), Jimmy Sangster (screenplay)
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Cast

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

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie began under the direction of Joseph Losey (working as Joseph Walton), exiled to England because of the Hollywood blacklist; however, when Dean Jagger arrived, he refused to work with a director he thought of as a Communist sympathizer, and Losey was replaced by Leslie Norman before shooting began. Losey's departure was publicly attributed to "illness". It has also been reported that Losey simply didn't want to make the film and left the project, to be replaced by Norman, who also didn't want to make the movie, but did anyway for the sake of work. See more »

Goofs

There's no explanation given for why the creature returns to the fissure after every meal. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Adam Royston: Now, Mac, how would you go about killing that?
Inspector McGill: What is it?
Dr. Adam Royston: It's a particle of mud, but by virtue of its atomic structure it emits radiation. That's all it is. Just mud. How do you kill mud?
See more »


Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

Enjoyable Sci-Fi, & Well-Crafted For Such a Low Budget Movie
6 December 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee 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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La incógnita X See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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