The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

With Halloween looming large at the end of the month, and Hammer Horror recently making its return to the world of comics courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Comics, we figured now was the perfect time to take a look some of the the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

So this month, Jules is planning to watch every single Hammer Horror movie and share his thoughts with you fine, horror loving people.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1955
Starring: Brian Donlevy, Richard Wordsworth
Director: Val Guest

With the Cold War in full swing, the twin spectres of nuclear holocaust and fear of The Other dominated horror and sci-fi cinema in the 1950s, so Hammer adapting Nigel Kneale’s original BBC TV series to the big screen must have been an easy decision.

Proudly flaunting their shiny new “X” certificate in the very title of the film, The Quatermass Xperiment is a remarkably effective example of early body horror, essentially being a story of one man’s slow, painful transformation into something…else.

His name might be on the title screen, but for this initial outing at least, Professor Quatermass isn’t really the star of the show. Sure, it’s his British Rocket Group that sends up the initial 3-man mission into space and him that has to deal with the repercussions when only one man returns and it’s that unfortunate soul who this film is really about.

As Victor Carooon, the astronaut infected with an alien organism, Richard Wordsworth delivers a beautifully nuanced and entirely silent performance, with his gradual decline looking all the more agonising every time we see him.

He’s at his best when trying to restrain his murderous urges, holding himself back from absorbing both his wife and, in a delightful tip of the hat to James Whale’s Frankenstein, a little girl playing by a river.

Very much played as a victim of Quatermass’ ambition and thirst for knowledge at all costs, Caroon eventually loses everything, transforming into a Lovecraftian horror, a blasphemous presence lurking inside Westminster Abbey and a real threat to every living thing on the planet.

In the end though, considering he ends up nearly bringing about the apocalypse, Caroon isn’t the real monster here. The clue is in the title and just in case there was any doubt, our last sight is of Professor Quatermass himself, striding away from the devastation he’s caused, unrepentant and determined to try again, hubris personified.

For a film that’s 62 years old this year, The Quatermass Xperiment still packs a punch and is a real gem in the early Hammer filmography.

Rating: 4/5. 

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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