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The Quatermass Experiment

UK 1953
produced by
Rudolph Cartier for BBC
directed by Rudolph Cartier
starring Reginald Tate, Isabel Dean, Duncan Lamont, Hugh Kelly, Moray Watson, Ian Colin, John Glen, W.Thorp Deverreux, Van Boolen, Iris Ballard, Neil Wilson, Katie Johnson, Oliver Johnston, Paul Whitsun-Jones, Colyn Davis, Dominic Le Foe, Patrick Westwood, Eugene Leahy, Nicholas Bruce, Christopher Rhodes, Peter Bathurst, Enid Lindsay, Stella Richman, Philip Vickers, Maurice Durant
written by Nigel Kneale

tv-miniseries
Quatermass, BBC's Quatermass

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Professor Quatermass (Reginald Tate) has just launched the first manned rocket into orbit, & successfully, too, when things start to go horribly wrong ... For several hours contact with the ship is lost compeltely, long enough for the responsible politician Blaker (W.Thorp Deverreux) to panic & try to make a mess of things. then contact is reestablished, & the rocket comes down a mere 10 miles away from Quatermass' headquarrters, in some residencial area in Wimbledon ... & pretty much wrecks the house of one Mr Matthews (Van Boolen), but rather surprisingly the rocket remains relatively unscathed.

Soon, the area of the crash is populated by the police, all sorts of scientists, reporters & of course every oddball imaginable. Then Quatermass & his assistants Judith Caroon (Isabel Dean), John Paterson (Hugh Kelly) & Peter Marsh (Moray Watson) manage to open the thing ... & have to realize 2 of the rockets hree crewmembers are gone ... gone without a trace, & the 3rd one, Victor Caroon (Duncan Lamont) - husband of Quatermass' assistant Judith - is in a severe state of shock ...

With 2 people missing though, this also becomes a case for the police, & much to the dismay of Quatermass, Scotland Yard inspector Lomax (Ian Colin) conducts some investigatins of his own, but he can't even begin to comprehend what Quatermass finds out ... that Victor Caroon is not just Victor Caroon, but a sort of blend between Caroon & his 2 missing colleagues, ...

Which is unfortunately when the srviving footage from the tv-series ends (only the first 2 of six episodes have survived, unfortunately).

According to my information the story continues with Quatermass finding out that his spaceship has been attacked by some alien lifeform that has already absorbed two of the spaceman & is now in the process of absorbing the third one - Victor Caroon - as well, before multiplying by sending spores out into the stratosphere to look for new victims to absorb all over the world. But before the worst happens, the creature/Victor can be hunted down & destroyed, & earth is saved once more. But Quatermass, always the scientist, is already hell-bent on building his next rocketship ...

 

It's impossible to pass judgement on a tv-show when two thirds of it are just not available for review (& according to all acounts, the most exciting bits are in these 2 thirds), so I will have to reduce myself to just recounting some important facts about The Quatermss Experiment: Upon its screening (recorded live, as then was common, the show was a phenomenal success, not only because it dealt with a (back then) new & exciting topic but also because it had a dramatic, filmlike structure that was, back in the early 1950's, unheard of in British television - where the shows were still broadcast live, as mentioned, which of coure does not facilitate filmlike film-making.

So successful was the show that eventually a then unimportant, minor B-film company, Hammer, acquired the film-rights for it, & with the finished result, The Quatermass Xperiment from 1955, they landed their first big success, in Great Britain (where Quatermass by then was a household name) as well as in Europe & America (where it was not), & from then on Hammer's output in general would lean towards the faantastique (& for a time, was immensely successul doing so).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD