Quatermass & the Mutant Mass
There is no denying that "The Quatermass Xperiment" is a very important movie in the history of cinema as it was the movie which lead to Hammer becoming a well know studio and making them famous for Hammer Horrors. And there is also no denying that "The Quatermass Xperiment" is an above average movie for its type, that being noirish sci-fi horror from the 1950s. But whilst I can appreciate why many proclaim this British sci-fi horror as great, especially those who watched it for the first time back in 1955 it left me under whelmed, keeping me distant because of its almost documentary styling and lack of a central character to connect with.
After a manned rocket comes crashing down in a village in the British countryside, scientist Prof. Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy - Canyon Passage) and his team rush to the site as they lost contact with the rocket and its 3 pilots many hours earlier and have no idea of what may have happened inside. When they open it up they discover that 2 of the pilots have vanished leaving only Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth) who is barely alive and appears to be infected with something. Soon Victor starts to change and whilst Quatermass is in no mood for anyone telling him what to do he has to allow Insp. Lomax (Jack Warner - Carve Her Name with Pride) to investigate especially when Victor's wife Judith (Margia Dean) leads to him getting out and on the rampage in the London streets as he continues to mutate and kill what ever comes in his way.
I guess if I was a big fan of 50's sci-fi I would be raving about "The Quatermass Xperiment" because it has all the components you could want. The first part as we wait to see inside the rocket is full of atmosphere as is the climax, there is also horror as we become aware as to what has happened to Victor and as we see him mutate and go on a killing spree there is a real ominous feel to things especially in the scene where he encounters a young girl. There is of course the whole sci-fi aspect and the general fear of what if something is out there and infected a human. And I could go on because as I said "The Quatermass Xperiment" has all the components you would have wanted from a sci-fi movie in the 1950s.
It also has some good performances most notably from Brian Donlevy who as Prof. Bernard Quatermass is less science geek and almost a monster himself in his demanding ways. Watching him bullishly boss people about and expect to be obeyed is a big departure from how scientists had been portrayed previously and he delivers the movies memorable and ominous ending as he plans to try again with another rocket. Donlevy's performance is not the only good one and the likes of Jack Warner, Lionel Jeffries and Gordon Jackson all delivers solid performances although Margia Dean as Victor's wife Judith seems to have been saddled with an under written character.
But here is my problem because whilst technically "The Quatermass Xperiment" has everything you could want from a 1950's sci-fi movie it left me feeling distant because of an almost documentary styling. I suppose what it boils down to is that I need a central character to connect with, a good guy to get behind and in truth "The Quatermass Xperiment" doesn't have one, it just has the domineering Prof. Quatermass and he certainly lacks the charm to make him likeable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Quatermass Xperiment" is a very important movie in the history of cinema and I can understand why for many it is a great noirish, sci-fi horror. But if like me you need a central character to get behind this movie will most likely leave you feeling distant and despite some great scenes it struggles to keep your full attention.