X: the Unknown (1956)

X: the Unknown (1956), directed by Leslie Norman

Something uncanny is stalking a remote part of Scotland. Soldiers, doctors, kids out at night: all burned and melted by severe radiation. Scientist and military consultant not-Quatermass-but-just-like-him is present and on the case, if only they will listen to him.

This Hammer Films title was meant to be a Quatermass story but they couldn't get permission to use the name. Nothing else is changed. It has the trademark Hammer seriousness and fine use of real gear and locations. The opening credits give thanks to the War Office.

Only 80 minutes long, I know this sort of SF/mystery/horror doesn't appeal to everyone, but I've always liked down-to-earth, low budget science procedural plots. I also find the notion of mysterious entities emerging from deep within the earth to be pretty scary; I don't know where I get that, unless from seeing Superman and the Mole Men (1951) too many times as a kid.

This is also of that intriguing sub-genre that has no "creature" or even "monster" in the strict sense, just hazardous natural phenomena. The Monolith Monsters (1957) is another example.

Joseph Losey was the original director, replaced when he become ill (or because American Dean Jagger refused to work with the blacklisted director, or because Losey just didn't want to do the film).

Leo McKern fan club!

Available on DVD.