I watched The Quatermass Trilogy by Hammer Films today. These are movie versions of the previous British TV mini-series which ran in the 1950's. I did a Science Fiction Sunday post about them a while back. You can download them from the Internet Archive for free.
The first movie is The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) which American's might have seen under the title The Creeping Unknown. It's directed by Val Guest, a director that never I grew to be a great fan of, but he does an ok job here. A small English town has a loud noisey event one night. A rocket crashes into a field. Brian Donlevy plays Quatermass. He's a hard talking tough science guy who really wants it all his way. Some people, like original tv series writer Nigel Kneale didn't like Donlevy's preformance but it's what I saw first and I've grown to like him, brusque and annoying as he is. He'd be a pain-in-the-ass kind of guy to work for. When Quatermass and the military open the rocket there is only one man of the three that left the earth. Where the heck did those other two guys go?
Victor, the rocket man, is all screwed up, hardly able to quoak out a "Help me!" before going catatonic. Quatermass studies the ship trying to figure out where the other two men went. They find some film that doesn't answer their questions. Victor doesn't say anything but he can be lead around. That's Victor, looking all poorly, in the picture above left. Donlevy is in the black suit. Victor's wife sneaks him out of the hospital after he sucks the life out of some guy. Shortly after Victor runs away and leaves his wife screaming in her car. Victor stops in at a chemist's and that's where we get to see his crazy lookin' arm. Quatermass and the police find the poor dead chemist and he's just like the dead guy at the hospital, his body all dehydrated and gray. Victor doesn't kill a little girl and that leads the cops to him in the Detford area. There's a night scene at a zoo. That was kind of cool looking. Most of the film is pretty average in it's technical aspects. The physical effects are pretty good, so is the make up. Back in the movie Victor is mutating and leaving parts of himself about. There are lots of scenes of people looking for something. Eventually the monster is confronted in Westminster Abbey and the Earth saved. Donlevy exits stage left to start again.
The sequel, Quatermass 2, came out in 1957. It was released under the title Enemy From Space here in the USA. Brian Donlevy returns as Quartermass in this Val Guest directed film. We join Quatermass and his rocket crew trying to rebuild the rocket program. Driving to his base he encounters a car accident. He stops to help and find a woman and a man who's car has gone off the road. The couple of tell of hearing something falling and the man has some weird markings on his face.
Quatermass finds a meteor and brings it back to the rocket base. The science guys working for him tell him it's not a meteor, it's been made by someone. Next day Quatermass and a guy named Marsh find more of these meteor's. Marsh gets infected when one bursts. Some guards at a big project take him away. They drive Quatermass away. His investigations uncover a secret alien invasion that reaches high into the government. Not trusting the local authorities he recruits the aid of the local townspeople. He leads an angry armed mob on the plant. After a deadly battle the aliens are defeated and the world saved again.
It would be 10 years before Hammer got back to making a new Quatermass movie, this time in color, and starring Andrew Kier as Quatermass. The 1967 Quatermass And The Pit was also based on the earlier Brit TV mini-series. It was released in the USA as Five Million Miles To Earth. This time Roy Ward Baker is the director and the screenplay is by Nigel Kneale. That's an Island Of Man Stamp with Nigel Kneale's picture on it below. Some workmen are digging a new underground station and they encounter some skulls and bones. Soon a large metal tube is discovered, and thinking it's an unexploded bomb, the military is called in. Quatermass's rocket base is being taken over by the military so they can build military moon bases. He tags along with the new commander when he heads over to check out the UXB.
It turns out that the tube isn't a bomb but some sort of craft. They get inside and find some old dead insect aliens. The contact with the air starts decaying the physical forms. There's some powerful force left behind even though it's creators have long since died. It causes some major havok before the end of the movie. Eventually, and at great sacrifice, the monster ID is destroyed and the earth saved once again. I enjoyed the whole series when ever I've seen them. There was a 1979 tv production with John Mills as Quatermass. It was released in the USA as a 100 minute film called The Quatermass Conclusion. It's been a while since I have seen it and I don't seem to have a copy of it. Thought I did. Oh, well, someday it will cycle through on TCM and I can watch it again.