X – The Unknown (1956)


When Hammer Films decided to break away from the dramas and comedies that were the staples of their first twenty years of ripping off Ealing Studios, they did so with “The Quatermass Xperiment”; a remake of the 1953 BBC Television series written by Nigel Kneale. The studio was over the moon when it got an X rating for all it’s terror and tension, ensuring that everyone would want to see it and that the press would hate it. Combined with ground-breaking special effects, the cultural excitement of the then-not-even-named “Space Race”, and the marketing genius of putting it in cinemas the same weekend as when the BBCs Quatermass 2 series started, it was an amazing financial success. Thus, Hammer immediately started work on a follow up film, with only the slight snag of Nigel Kneale telling them they couldn’t use any of his work or characters because Hammer had changed so much with the first one.
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She-Creature (1956)


Giving recommendations on movies from the early part of cinema history is always a tricky thing, because they all have a similar aesthetic that can’t be avoided. For a start, due to a combination of technical restrictions and the shadow of the theatre, the pace is always slow to modern tastes. The visuals of sci-fi and horror were also far more constrained, partly to avoid the censor’s knife and partly as the audience would be disappointed if either saw them in the full eye of the camera. The result of this is that old black and white films often fall into the pigeonholes marked “artefact of genre history”, for those seeking enlightenment, or “kitsch novelty items”, for those who like a good eye roll. Both miss the point that these films can just be fun in their own right. The She-Creature, a 1965 B-Movie originally on a double bill with It Conquered the World, is a great example of this. It’s not a might perfect movie, now as then, but it certainly has charms to offer a willing audience.
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