72 user 47 critic

X the Unknown (1956)

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


Leslie Norman, Joseph Losey (uncredited)


Jimmy Sangster (story), Jimmy Sangster (screenplay)





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)


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


It rises from 2000 miles below the earth to melt everything in its path! See more »


Horror | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Released in 1956, this was one of the first, and one of the best, of the "blob" movies that were produced during the 1950s. See more »


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 »


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


Referenced in The Stuff (1985) See more »


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

User Reviews

Functional Sci-Fi Horror But Not Much More Than That
12 October 2014 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

With the success of THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Hammer films immediately decided to do a sequel and this is that film but Nigel Kneale wisely decided to have nothing to do with it and was adamant the company weren't going to using his character of Bernard Quatermass to appear . I say " wisely " but X THE UNKNOWN isn't by any means a bad film but lacks that little something and one wonders if involvement by the visionary and oh so intelligent Kneale would had lifted the screenplay above being merely average and in to undisputed classic British sci-fi horror ? It's a film you may remember from years ago but upon seeing again realise it's the sum of its parts rather than a consistent whole

Directed by Leslie Norman ( Barry's dad ) the scene is set in the opening sequence with a bleak cold winters day in the Scottish Highlands and a unit of the Royal Engineers on training maneuvers . In those days Britain had a conscript army and if nothing else the film does make a point that forcing young men in to routine military duties seemed rather senseless . It also contrasts a rather mundane setting with the horrors about to come . Norman is rather effective but his job is relatively easy in using night filming , scary music and a build up of people about to be killed by a blob of radioactive mud . Let's be honest and say it's not to difficult to frighten an audience via this type of convention . May be we should also be charitable and point out the melting effect is rather well done but it's difficult to be scared by something that's just a pile of mud

The cast are okay but nothing more than that . Reminding ourselves this was originally supposed to be a QUATERMASS film Brian Donlevy's much maligned performance would have probably been an improvement than Dean Jagger's rather flat substitute role . At least Donlevy would have been a bit more brusque and arrogant and a scene where the father of a dead child condemns the men of science might have had a bigger impact . That said the characters throughout the film are rather non descript and lack a spark to them

X THE UNKNOWN works well enough as a science fiction horror film . It's a good idea on paper and does contain a few scenes that are more than efficient but you're left with the nagging suspicion that more could have been done with the premise , characters and perhaps most of all the big bad monster . Sometimes you wish Nigel Kneale could have written a few more QUATERMASS teleplays

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 72 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

May 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La incógnita X See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Everything That's New on Netflix in December

No need to waste time endlessly browsing—here's the entire lineup of new movies and TV shows streaming on Netflix this month.

See the full list

Recently Viewed