Friday, November 11, 2011

'The Quatermass Xperiment' Slithers out on DVD-R

Despite being the watershed Hammer horror flick and a pioneer of graphic gore that reveled in its transgressions so proudly that its very title emphasized its X rating, Val Guest's The Quatermass Xperiment has always flown below the radar in the U.S. So it's fitting that news of its release is arriving a bit late to the Psychobabble news desk. It's also fitting that MGM has given this landmark of British horror a fairly cursory release as an on-demand DVD-R. Oh well. Better than nothing. The couple of customer reviews on Amazon.com indicate that the picture quality is strong and it may be time for the already-converted to ditch their bootlegs. The uninitiated should check it out or risk transforming into a giant space octopus draped over Westminster Abbey.

Get The Quatermass Xperiment at Amazon.com here.

As for the movie, here's what I had to say about The Quatermass Xperiment in Psychobabble’s 120 Essential Horror Movies Part 4: The 1950s:

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955- dir. Val Guest)

Great Britain would never be known as a major exporter of science fiction cinema, but BBC TV was a different story. Pioneering future favorites such as Dr. Who, The Prisoner, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Torchwood was The Quatermass Experiment. The six-episode serial used the British space programme as a launching pad for a tale of an alien that infiltrates a crashed rocket. Professor Bernard Quatermass leads the search for runaway astronaut Carroon, who is possessed by an alien bent on spewing spores into the atmosphere capable of exterminating all life on Earth. The show was a big hit in 1953, so two years later a British studio known for its cheap “quota quickies” brought the series to the big screen in a bid for quick cash. Hammer Studios took its first major step into the supernatural with The Quatermass Xperiment, so retitled to exploit the X-rating the film earned for its shocking level of gore. Indeed it is more gruesome than anything that would appear in America prior to splatter-king Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast in 1963. Carroon leaves a trail of mutilated corpses as he lumbers to Westminster Abbey where he will complete his transformation into a giant octopus monster and unleash his deadly spores. The Quatermass Xperiment is technically science fiction, with its rockets, astronauts, space programmes, and aliens. The E.C.-style gore, Carroon’s monstrous deeds, and his increasingly monstrous appearance are pure horror. His encounter with a girl played by a very young Jane Asher is an obvious nod to Frankenstein, as his ultimate destination of a major landmark is a cap-tip to King Kong. The Quatermass Xperiment is a thrilling and smart flick that should appeal to sci-fi and horror freaks alike, but its historical value is monumental, prepping Hammer’s coming domination of horror cinema, as well as bracing viewers for all the blood and entrails the studio would soon show them in ghastly full color.
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