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X the Unknown (1956)

18 | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 5 November 1956 (UK)
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0:53 | 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:

It rises from 2000 miles below the earth to melt everything in its path! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

18 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 November 1956 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Het onbekende 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

The film's release was delayed by eight months because of a dispute between RKO and Warner Brothers over distribution rights. See more »

Goofs

Lansing watches the stick sinking in a pool of liquid, but in a later long shot the stick in seen firmly standing in dry ground. See more »

Quotes

Major Cartwright: You know this Royston chap. Brilliant, of course, I'm sure. But the trouble with these scientific types is they can't see the easy way out of anything. It's got to be complicated if it's going to work.
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

 
A nice early outing from the nice people at Hammer studios
7 March 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

This early offering from the studio that would go on to become the greatest force horror would ever see lacks the vibrant colours and pseudo-Gothic style that would go on to epitomise their later output, but it retains the British charm and wit that Hammer became famous for. The film also succeeds in being entertaining, and that's what Hammer Horror has always done best. X the Unknown is your classic 50's B-movie, and it follows a seemingly bottomless crack that has opened up in the Earth. This is not all, as adding to the Earth's woes is the creatures that have come out of this pit; which are made of mud and feed on energy. For the time it was made, the effects certainly aren't bad and this was an obvious blueprint for several b-movie 'classics', including most notably; The Blob. Seeing the huge mud creature fumble over telephone lines and rooftops is very fun to watch, and is a good early indicator of the sort of film that Hammer studios would go on to mass-produce.

One thing that X the Unknown is notable for is the believability regarding the scientists researching the 'creature'. Too often in this sort of film, the scientists realise what is going on and everyone just accepts it, no matter how ridiculous it is; but here there's a bit of opposition and it's nice to see. The film remains interesting throughout thanks to the way that the plot is developed, and the fact that it doesn't go over the top with detail. It attacks the premise from lots of different angles, and seeing the army do it's best to thwart the creature is always amusing. The cast keeps the film afloat at all times, and the acting isn't bad at all; and certainly much better than I was expecting. Most of the cast are unknowns, but one standout is Hammer regular - Michael Ripper, who puts in a small appearance. X the Unknown isn't a brilliant film, and Hammer would go on to better this ten fold; but it's good for what it's worth, and I definitely recommend this movie to fans of classic 'B' cinema.


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