As we stride into the second hand half of the 1950s, Hammer Film Productions were taking significant steps towards iconic horror territory. Straight off the back of their successful release of The Quatermass Xperiment, the British horror film company were looking to repeat their success. Initially this was to involve bringing back Professor Quatermass into the fold but his creator Nigel Kneale was none too eager to comply after the way Hammer had treated his character.
So in steps, Jimmy Sangster currently working with Exclusive at the time with an idea to turn the current trend for science fiction on its head away from outer space and to inner space where something comes bubbling beneath the Earth’s surface. Producer Anthony Hinds then gave Jimmy the go ahead to write a script.
The combination that they were aiming for was that blend of science fiction, human endeavour and exploration into the unknown and a menacing presence that would then take over the local town and threaten humanity.
The result was something a little underwhelming as far as the creature in question was concerned but the formula and tension created on screen in the lead up to the climax.
Those with keen eyes would have noted two directors attached to the feature, the first, Joseph Losey (The Go-Between) who had been residing in Britain after being ostracised from Hollywood due to his political ties with the Communist Party USA. It’s not quite clear why he didn’t complete the picture but there have been strong whispers that it may have been due to star Dean Jagger, who strongly opposed this position.
With its notable fears around the threat that the Cold War posed, X: The Unknown managed to capture this on screen and the impact it had on even small town in Scotland.
The ingredients that were mashed together would be play a significant role along with the Quatermass films to complete the trilogy, raise interest from across the pond and pave the way for history to unfold.
- Saul Muerte