Thursday, October 17, 2013
If Science Fiction is a study of what could be and Horror is a study of what we fear, Quatermass seems to be a perfect blending of the two.
Last night I watched both "The Quatermass Xperiment" (1955) and "Quatermass 2" (1957).
The Quatermass Xperiment
Here we get the hardened Scientist Bernard Quatermass, a skeptic who will stop at nothing to advance his scientific knowledge, and an alien invasion that is more of a possession than an invasion. The alien presence seems less scientific and more supernatural, and horrifying for its vast, destructive indifference. The Astronaut who is infected seems fearful of the metamorphosis, but remains speechless, as if his soul has been ripped from his body, leaving a completely unknowable presence in its place. The bleak, black-and-white photography of the film are a perfect backdrop and overall, Nigel Kneale's science horror is quite effective.
Nigel Kneale's second offering turns its focus to more of a science-gone-wrong widespread conspiracy story at first, and these elements are quite effective on their own. But soon the source of the conspiracy is revealed to be another vast, destructive and indifferent alien presence much like the first Quatermass, and we begin to see a theme. Quatermass 2 is more effective than The Quatermass Xperiment, perhaps because of Nigel Kneale's direct involvement, and the passion behind the project make even the dated effects seem more real.