Monday, January 11, 2010

THE CREEPING UNKNOWN

Continuing in the classic sci-fiction vein, over the weekend your host stumbled upon a 2005 BBC staging of The Quatermass Experiment. DD first knew it in Pennsyltucky, from Saturday B-movie fare, as The Creeping Unknown. The Unknown title, reinforced on viewing the trailer, seems glued on for the US audience -- kids like me.

The trailer for the old black and white movie is here.

"There's no room for personal feelings in science, Judith!" -- Quatermass

Quatermass is part of the Brit psyche. In the US, its bleak Gothic mix of sci-fi and horror seems to have noticeably influenced only The Outer Limits.

Leslie Stevens' "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles," for example, features the same escalating tension and air of inexorable disaster as Quatermass, only about a decade later. (It's also on YouTube. Look for a very young Leonard Nimoy in the role of a nuclear lab technician.)



The Beeb production The Quatermass Experiment ran live and it stages as taut science-fiction theatre of the best kind. Children, or those with the attention spans of children, may be dismayed by its lack of effects. But the brooding menace and outline of doom in a science project gone too far is inescapable.

The story-line never ages: Three astronauts encounter something in a mission gone bad. Only one comes back -- with something extra.

Biographical notes indicate it helped clinch David Tennant's role as the tenth Dr. Who.

The Quatermass Experiment -- from 2005, more thumping classic sci-fi, is here.

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