Quatermass 2 (1957)

When I watched The Quatermass Xperiment yesterday, it was for the first time in probably nearly a decade, but I’d never seen the sequel at all before tonight. Happy to report the wait was worth it. Obviously the success of the first film meant a follow-up was evidently desirable, to which end a film called X the Unknown was written as a sequel, but Nigel Kneale objected to his character being used in it, so Hammer rewrote that film and got the screen rights for Kneale’s actual second Quatermass story instead. At least this time Kneale also got to write the early version of the film script, though again he was unhappy with the casting of Brian Donlevy as Quatermass. Which is a little sad, cos Donlevy’s markedly better here than in Xperiment; the character is a bit less abrasive here, and rather more sorely beset by the situation he’s now in (aliens invading Earth, taking over village, etc), perhaps not as in command, but at the same time he seems like a more active participant in this film than he did in the first. Looking at it now, it’s a goddamn shame the film was apparently so hard to get hold of for so long, cos its profile should be a lot higher; if not quite a classic, it’s damn close to one. Val Guest thunders through proceedings at quite some speed, resulting in a film that’s tighter than the first one (and that wasn’t exactly slack) and somewhat heavier on the action (there’s still something startling about the scene where Quatermass runs down a “possessed” guard); I’ve said often enough about the comparative economy of storytelling in older films compared with more recent ones, and Guest rather proves my point here. Another terrific example of this sort of film; I look forward to revisiting Quatermass and the Pit

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