Enemy from Space (1957)

84 mins | Science fiction | September 1957

Director:

Val Guest

Producer:

Anthony Hinds

Cinematographer:

Gerald Gibbs

Editor:

James Needs

Production Designer:

Bernard Robinson

Production Company:

Hammer Film Productions, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The onscreen credits include the following written statements: "The producers acknowledge the assistance received from the Hemel Hempsted New Town Development Corporation during the shooting of this film" and "The producers wish to acknowledge with thanks the facilities extended to them by ‘Shell’ Refining and Marketing company for the shooting of many scenes at Shell Haven Refinery, Essex." Longtime British actor John Longden is incorrectly credited onscreen as “John Longdon.”
       Enemy from Space was released in England in early 1957 under the title Quatermass II . It was a sequel to the British film The Quatermass Xperiment , which was released in America under the title The Creeping Unknown (see above). Like the previous film, Enemy from Space was adapted from Nigel Kneale’s popular 1953 BBC television series The Quatermass Experiment . Although Jack Warner played “Inspector Lomax” in the first picture, his theater performance schedule conflicted with the shooting of Enemy from Space , so he was replaced by Longden. In addition to scenes shot at the Shell Refinery and Hemel Hempsted, some scenes were shot on location in London, including in Trafalgar Square, Scotland Yard and in Parliament inside the House of Lords. According to the interview with director Val Guest on the DVD version of the film, this marked the first time that location shooting had occurred inside the House of Lords.
       Guest also stated on the DVD that he used a cinema verité approach to the film with handheld cameras and a documentary feel, to add realism to an otherwise fantastical story. He quoted the budget as ₤90,000, almost twice that of ... More Less

The onscreen credits include the following written statements: "The producers acknowledge the assistance received from the Hemel Hempsted New Town Development Corporation during the shooting of this film" and "The producers wish to acknowledge with thanks the facilities extended to them by ‘Shell’ Refining and Marketing company for the shooting of many scenes at Shell Haven Refinery, Essex." Longtime British actor John Longden is incorrectly credited onscreen as “John Longdon.”
       Enemy from Space was released in England in early 1957 under the title Quatermass II . It was a sequel to the British film The Quatermass Xperiment , which was released in America under the title The Creeping Unknown (see above). Like the previous film, Enemy from Space was adapted from Nigel Kneale’s popular 1953 BBC television series The Quatermass Experiment . Although Jack Warner played “Inspector Lomax” in the first picture, his theater performance schedule conflicted with the shooting of Enemy from Space , so he was replaced by Longden. In addition to scenes shot at the Shell Refinery and Hemel Hempsted, some scenes were shot on location in London, including in Trafalgar Square, Scotland Yard and in Parliament inside the House of Lords. According to the interview with director Val Guest on the DVD version of the film, this marked the first time that location shooting had occurred inside the House of Lords.
       Guest also stated on the DVD that he used a cinema verité approach to the film with handheld cameras and a documentary feel, to add realism to an otherwise fantastical story. He quoted the budget as ₤90,000, almost twice that of the first “Quatermass” picture. In the interview, Guest and Kneale discussed the films’ reflection of the fears pervading British society at the time, including an unease about the War Department’s secret dealings, a nervousness about space exploration and a fear of atomic power.
       A modern source asserts that Kneale disliked Enemy from Space and, when the film’s rights reverted to him, tried to prevent the film from being exhibited. Some modern critics, however, consider the picture one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 57
p. 6.
Filmex
17 Mar 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 57
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
24 Oct 1957.
---
MFB
1957
p. 74.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 Aug 57
p. 514.
Variety
4 Sep 57
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward
SOUND
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the television series The Quatermass Experiment by Nigel Kneale (BBC, 18 Jul--22 Aug 1953).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Quatermass II
Release Date:
September 1957
Production Date:
at New Elstree Studios, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 May 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9399
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
84
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As Prof. Bernard Quatermass is driving to his laboratory in the English countryside, where he develops rockets that he hopes will facilitate the building of a colony on the moon, a young couple crashes their car into his. Upon stopping to help, he learns that they were attempting to picnic in Winnedon Flats when a strange rock exploded and burned the young man, who is now acting aggressively. Quatermass helps them to a hospital and then brings the rock back to his lab for analysis. There, his assistants, Brand and Marsh, are tracking falling objects on the radar screen when Quatermass gruffly informs them that the government is cutting off their funding due to the continued failure of their atomic rocket, despite the fact that with only minor corrections, the missile can be made safe and usable. Despondent that his beloved rocket, if launched, might cause an atomic explosion, Quatermass works at the launching pad all night. In the morning, Marsh reveals that the rock has proven to be a completely foreign substance, and Quatermass soon realizes that the objects on the radar are falling in Winnedon Flats, and so must be more pieces of rock. He and Marsh go there, but discover the entire area blockaded by the government. Looking around, Quatermass is astounded to find Winnedon Flats replaced by a factory town that closely resembles his model for a moon colony, complete with steel domes and huge silos. Marsh finds hundreds of rocks there, but when he handles one, it bursts open and burns his face, leaving a V-shaped mark. Within seconds, an alarm sounds and armed guards, each with a similar mark, appear, seize Marsh and ... +


As Prof. Bernard Quatermass is driving to his laboratory in the English countryside, where he develops rockets that he hopes will facilitate the building of a colony on the moon, a young couple crashes their car into his. Upon stopping to help, he learns that they were attempting to picnic in Winnedon Flats when a strange rock exploded and burned the young man, who is now acting aggressively. Quatermass helps them to a hospital and then brings the rock back to his lab for analysis. There, his assistants, Brand and Marsh, are tracking falling objects on the radar screen when Quatermass gruffly informs them that the government is cutting off their funding due to the continued failure of their atomic rocket, despite the fact that with only minor corrections, the missile can be made safe and usable. Despondent that his beloved rocket, if launched, might cause an atomic explosion, Quatermass works at the launching pad all night. In the morning, Marsh reveals that the rock has proven to be a completely foreign substance, and Quatermass soon realizes that the objects on the radar are falling in Winnedon Flats, and so must be more pieces of rock. He and Marsh go there, but discover the entire area blockaded by the government. Looking around, Quatermass is astounded to find Winnedon Flats replaced by a factory town that closely resembles his model for a moon colony, complete with steel domes and huge silos. Marsh finds hundreds of rocks there, but when he handles one, it bursts open and burns his face, leaving a V-shaped mark. Within seconds, an alarm sounds and armed guards, each with a similar mark, appear, seize Marsh and order Quatermass to leave. The scientist rushes to the nearest town, made up of Irish construction laborers working on the government project who flatly refuse to help him, protesting that they are well paid to work without asking questions. Quatermass then tries the nearest police station, but is met with more resistance and told that the project is top secret. Refusing to give up on Marsh, Quatermass orders more tests on the rocks, then travels to London to demand help from his old friend, Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax. Lomax finds Quatermass’ story incredible but directs him to Parliament member Vincent Broadhead, who has been trying to force an inquiry into the project. Broadhead informs Quatermass that the project is ostensibly to produce synthetic food, and invites him to visit the site with him that day. They join a tightly restricted tour led by a public relations officer, or p.r.o., who rebukes Quatermass after the scientist attempts to search for Marsh in the medical center. The p.r.o. refuses to answer questions, instead leading them into the entrance of one of the domes, but when Quatermass sees the doors locking behind them, he races out, barely escaping the brainwashing process that the p.r.o. is about to instigate. Outside, he discovers that Broadhead had earlier slipped away from the group and into a dome, where he fell into a vat full of a black slime, which now burns his body. As Broadhead suffers a grisly death, the guards pursue Quatermass, who manages to jump into a jeep and escape. He returns to Lomax and demands action, but when the inspector questions the commissioner on the subject, he sees a V-shaped mark on his hand and realizes that even the highest officials have been conscripted into the conspiracy. Upon spotting reporter Jimmy Hall, Lomax is inspired to propose the story to him, despite Hall's current state of inebriation. The three go to Quatermass’ lab, where Brand has identified the rocks as pods, filled with caustic gasses, that protect a life force inside while it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The scientists deduce that the life inside is an alien that, once it leaves the pod, can only survive via a human host, who is then marked with the V. Quatermass explains to Hall his theory that the domes hold food and gasses to support the aliens, which have arrived by the hundreds and have infected hundreds more humans to do their bidding. Quatermass, Hall and Lomax return to the workers’ town to ask for their help, and although the group at first rejects the theory that they are helping to sustain an alien colony, a rock soon infects one of their members, and they form a mob. As Hall calls in the story, the aliens send guards to shoot and kill him, sparking the mob to storm the worksite. Followed by Quatermass and Lomax, they rush the gates and take over a jeep, allowing them access to the pressure control center, which regulates the gasses in the domes. Quatermass turns off all the gasses except oxygen, which he reasons is poisonous to the aliens, and while they wait to gauge the effect, some of the workers are persuaded by the p.r.o. to meet with the guards. They are immediately used as “human pulp” to stave off the flow of oxygen into the domes, however, prompting one of the workers, Paddy Gorman, to shoot in anger directly at the dome. At the same time as the dome explodes, revealing a monstrous slime organism inside, Brand, as ordered earlier by Quatermass, launches the rocket at the alien site, hoping it will cause an atomic blast and raze the colony. The aliens, however, manage to detonate the rocket in space, and some guards, led by Marsh, kill Brand. Back at the site, the other domes collapse and the mountains of slime attack the humans. Quatermass and his group flee into a truck and crash through the gate, looking back in time to see the slime, deprived of its native atmosphere, burst into flames. The group takes cover to avoid the toxic fumes, but as soon as the air clears, they realize that the guards are returning to consciousness, no longer controlled by the aliens. As Lomax ponders how to write his final report about the incident, Quatermass hopes that it is indeed final. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.