X the Unknown

  • Film
  • Science fiction
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1956 - the year of the Suez crisis, a sharp increase in the crime rate, and uneasy preparation for WWIII - spawned a series of gloomy thrillers (both in Britain and in America) in which the weight of the military is mobilised against various alien organisms from the bowels of the earth or outer space. This Hammer entry is photographed in shadowy monochrome by Gerald Gibbs, with a sense of muted hysteria and despair underlying the stalwart attempts to defeat a radioactive thing which erupts in the Scottish highlands. Trash to people who don't like sci-fi or horror movies, but in a lot of ways it communicates the atmosphere of Britain in the late '50s more effectively than the most earnest social document. As one example, note the film's obsession with radioactivity (the monster feeds on it), which even becomes the background to an assignation between a doctor and a nurse in a nearby hospital. (The film was started by Joseph Losey, who left the production after a few days, due to illness - officially at least.

Release details

Duration: 81 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Leslie Norman
Screenwriter: Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Dean Jagger
Edward Chapman
Leo McKern
William Lucas
Peter Hammond
Anthony Newley
Kenneth Cope
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