X The Unknown

1956

Leslie Norman
Director
Hammer Films
Studio

Giant mud monster terrorizes Scottish countryside, hungry for radioactive materials.

That one sentence synopsis may not sound like much, but this is the greatest British science-fiction movies of the Fifties. The monster has no motivation or purpose other than to feed, which is what makes it truly frightening, much like The Blob, which this film predates and akmost certainly influenced.

The various characters are all well-realized and believable, especially McKern's affable atomic inspector. Jagger is the least obnoxious of the many American actors British science-fiction of this time felt necessary to shoehorn into their productions. Chapman's toad-like bureaucrat is tiresome, but realistic, much moreso than the noisy twits portrayed by Peter Copley and Edwin Richfield in Quatermass and the Pit, the greatest British sci-fi film of the Sixties. Chapman at least admits his mistakes. Interesting to note that 'X the Unknown' comes out of a Y-shaped fissure; perhaps a subtle hint that the biggest monster is what comes from the X-Y chromosome?

Perhaps most importantly, the film is not afraid to be nasty when it needs to be. How many other films of this time (or any other) have allowed children to die of radiation poisoning? Certainly Neil Hallett's grisly death scene gave me nightmares as a kid, and is still quite grisly today. Incidentally, that is probably one of the earliest horror scenes that equates sex with untimely death, something slasher films later made de rigueur.

Note: Whatever IMDb says, it's highly doubtful Archie Duncan (and possibly some of the others at the bottom of this page) are in this film.

-Dave W.


X the Unknown
5th November 1956
Cinema



81 mins
1.37:1

X the Unknown
May 1957
Cinema



81 mins
1.37:1



HyperLink
"
Dean Jagger
Dr. Adam Royston
Edward Chapman
John Elliott
Leo McKern
Inspector 'Mac' McGill
Anthony Newley
Lance Corporal 'Spider' Webb
Jameson Clark
Jack Harding
William Lucas
Peter Elliott
Peter Hammond
Lt. Bannerman
Marianne Brauns
Zena, the Nurse
Ian MacNaughton
Haggis
(as Ian McNaughton)
Michael Ripper
Sgt. Harry Grimsdyke
John Harvey
Major Cartwright
Edwin Richfield
Burned Soldier
Jane Aird
Vi Harding
Norman MacOwan
Old Tom
Neil Hallett
Unwin (as Neil Hallet)
Kenneth Cope
Sapper Lansing
Michael Brooke
Willie Harding
Frazer Hines
Ian Osborn
(as Fraser Hines)
Unknown
Soldier (uncredited)
Unknown
Soldier (uncredited)
Unknown
Scientist (uncredited)
Unknown
Scientist (uncredited)
Neil Wilson
Russell (uncredited)
Stevenson Lang
Reporter (uncredited)
Unknown
Reporter (uncredited)
Unknown
Reporter (uncredited)
Unknown
Reporter (uncredited)
Unknown
Driver (uncredited)
Stella Kemball
Willie's Room Nurse
(uncredited)
Robert Bruce
Dr. Kelly (uncredited)
Brown Derby
Vicar (uncredited)
Max Brimmell
Hospital Director (uncredited)
Unknown
1st Soldier on Winch
(uncredited)
Unknown
2nd Soldier on Winch
(uncredited)
Jack Lambert
Police Sergeant (uncredited)
Frank Taylor
P.C. at Accident Scene
(uncredited)
George Cormack
Man at Accident Scene
(uncredited)
Anthony Sagar
Gate Guard (uncredited)
Philip Levene
Security Guard
(uncredited)
Unknown
Security Guard
(uncredited)
Shaw Taylor
Police Radio Operator
(unconfirmed)
John Stirling
P.C. at Church
(uncredited)
Unknown
Helicopter Observer
(uncredited)
Unknown
Helicopter Pilot
(uncredited)
Unknown
Neglected Child
(uncredited)
Angela Crow
Mother (unconfirmed)
Barry Steele
Soldier Asking "What will happen?"
(uncredited)
Raymond Dudley
Undetermined Role
(uncredited)
Archie Duncan
Sgt. Yeardye (uncredited)
Lawrence James
Gerard (uncredited)
Edward Judd
2nd Soldier(uncredited)
Brian Peck
1st Soldier (uncredited)
John Stone
Jerry (uncredited)

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes