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X the Unknown (1956)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | May 1957 (USA)
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0:31 | Trailer
A radioactive, mud-like creature terrorizes a Scottish village.

Directors:

Leslie Norman, Joseph Losey (uncredited)

Writers:

Jimmy Sangster (story), Jimmy Sangster (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dean Jagger ... Dr. Adam Royston
Edward Chapman ... John Elliott
Leo McKern ... Insp. 'Mac' McGill
Anthony Newley ... LCpl. 'Spider' Webb
Jameson Clark Jameson Clark ... Jack Harding
William Lucas ... Peter Elliott
Peter Hammond ... Lt. Bannerman
Marianne Brauns Marianne Brauns ... Zena, the Nurse
Ian MacNaughton Ian MacNaughton ... Haggis (as Ian McNaughton)
Michael Ripper ... Sgt. Harry Grimsdyke
John Harvey John Harvey ... Maj. Cartwright
Edwin Richfield ... Soldier Burned on Back
Jane Aird Jane Aird ... Vi Harding
Norman MacOwan Norman MacOwan ... Old Tom (as Norman Macowan)
Neil Hallett ... Unwin (as Neil Hallet)
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Storyline

British Army radiation drills at a remote Scottish base attract a subterranean, radioactive entity of unknown nature that vanishes, leaving two severely radiation-burned soldiers... and a "bottomless" crack in the earth. Others who meet the thing in the night suffer likewise, and with increasing severity; it seems to be able to "absorb" radiation from any source, growing bigger and bigger. What is it?? How do you destroy a thing that "feeds" on energy? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Can anything escape its terror? See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La incógnita X See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Jimmy Sangster, director Leslie Norman was not overly interested in making this film, but did anyway for the sake of work. Dean Jagger and other crew members, not to mention Hammer brass, all found Norman very difficult to work with, so much so that despite the film receiving some good notices, Hammer never worked with Norman again. See more »

Goofs

Near the end, when John is backing up the jeep to the pit, he is sweating profusely. In the next scene his face is dry. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Adam Royston: [checking out entry points to an enclosed room] Came in through the grill.
Dr. Kelly: But, Adam, that's impossible. Whatever it was that did all this certainly wasn't small enough to come through there.
Dr. Adam Royston: Well, how small is ten thousand gallons of oil?
Inspector McGill: What do you mean?
Dr. Adam Royston: About ten thousand gallons of oil would take up a pretty large area, wouldn't it?
Inspector McGill: Ay.
Dr. Adam Royston: And yet ten thousand gallons of oil COULD come through the holes in that grill, couldn't it?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Tower (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22: V. Finale: Allegro vivace
(uncredited)
Written by Antonín Dvorák
See more »

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User Reviews

Another Great Hammer Outing
6 June 2002 | by pv71989See all my reviews

Hammer Films was known mostly for its horror outings like the Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy films. It did, however, score well in the science fiction department with such hits as the Quatermass series, "The Lost Continent" and this movie.

The film was originally pitches as a potential sequel in the Quatermass series until author Nigel Kneale objected. Thus, the scientist became Alan Royston (played by Dean Jagger of "Twelve O'Clock High" fame) who worked at a nuclear plant instead of a rocket base and the location was moved to Scotland to avoid comparisons to Quatermass.

Ironically, the film still kept the same black & white photography, as well as the creepy string score.

The story involves radioactive mud (sounds silly unless you actually stayed awake during physical science class) that makes it way up to the surface of the earth every so often looking for new energy. Previous trips found nothing but fossil fuel. Now, however, nuclear energy is abundant. The race is on to not just figure out what is turning people into crispy critters, but how to stop something made of pure energy.

Dean Jagger as Royston is quite good and the exact opposite of Brian Donlevy's Quatermass. Leo McKern (of "The Prisoner") is on hand, as is the late British pop star and actor Anthony Newley as a soldier unfortunate enough to be on guard duty when X, the Unknown strikes.

The special effects are adequate, although British films still couldn't show explosions that didn't look like match heads flaring. The visual effects are really creepy, from radiation burns on a boy's chest to a doctor's face melting like wax to a security guard's body literally deflating like a balloon. The ending features a surprise, as well, leaving the viewer with the feeling that, although man appears to have triumphed again, something may still be amiss.

All in all, a good film, especially late on a Saturday night.


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