Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain's Library: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Conclusion

The first manned flight into space by the British Experimental Rocket Group ends with a crash landing and only one survivor.
The other two astronauts' intact spacesuits are aboard the ship...but not the astronauts!
The remaining astronaut is alive, but catatonic, and his body seems to be infected with an unknown disease.
Meanwhile, blobs of organic material found in the ship appear to be the transformed remains of the two missing crew members.
The survivor's wife, fearing her husband will become a guinea pig for scientists' tests, has him spirited away from the hospital.
But the alien life-form inside him is transforming the hapless man into a creature who must absorb the energy of other living beings to survive...

In the original teleplay, Quatermass negotiates with the three astronauts' minds, still inside the creature, and convinces them to commit suicide to save the planet from the creature they're mutating into!
To fit the tv plot into a 90 minute movie, a sub-plot involving Victor Carroon's wife having an affair with the Rocket Group's doctor was jettisoned.
In addition, Carroon's kidnapping in the tv serial was by Communist agents, who are then killed by the mutating astronaut.
In terms of characterization, Brian Donlevy's cold, logical Quatermass is a far different version than the warm, paternal BBC-TV version played by Reginald Tate.
I think this was done primarily to reduce the amount of character interaction and dialogue not directly related to the main plot.

While the uncut British version has been released in the US on VHS, it is not on Region 1 DVD or BluRay (at least, not officially).
It is available in England both separately and as part of a Quatermass box set.
If you have a region-free player...

1n 2005, the original teleplay was reworked into a 97 minute production and broadcast live on the BBC!
Starring Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Quatermass, the cast included David Tennant (Doctor Who, Fright Night [2011]) as Dr. Briscoe, Indira Varma (TorchWood, Human Target) as Judith Carroon. and Mark Gattis (Doctor Who, Sherlock) as John Patterson.
While available in England on DVD, it has never been released in the US in any form, nor aired on BBC America!
The 11th Hour Web Magazine did a story about similarities between key plot points of The X-Files (both the series and first feature film) and the Quatermass series, showing how major plot elements from all four mini-series (and the film adaptations) were incorporated into the legendary "mytharc" by Chris Carter.

Finally, the BBC has a kool website devoted to all things Quatermass!
And here's the website for the 2005 remake.
While we catch our breaths, a word from our sponsor
(Oh, wait, that's us!)

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