Bernard Quatermass


With the joys of the internet, I have discovered that there are various versions of the 1950s Quatermass tv shows on youtube, as well as the later film versions.

I was wondering if any Britishiznoid/Anglophile friends had any particular opinions on whether I should watch the tv shows or the movies.

The Exchange

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The TV shows are probably better scripted and develop the story better, but the special effects will probably be even worse than the movies. Brian Donlevy's performance as an American Quatermass 1 is generally considered inferior to the TV one. I also understand that Quatermass 2 the TV series is better than the film, as the TV contains sly digs at British bureaucracy which are absent from the movie. I also believe that one of the Quatermass serials was redone very recently with modern actors, done as live in the studio as the originals would have been, in celebration of the BBC's 75th (I think) anniversary. There was also a 70s Quatermass with John Mills, but I understand that one isn't considered all that good (there's no movie version of that one).

That all said, I have only seen the movies, though I have seen them all (i.e. all three). I enjoyed them in their slightly creaky way, as they are fairly intelligent and have some very good moments (Sid James, latterly a very famous comic actor, getting murdered in Quatermass 2, for example; that film also has a really quite nasty moment towards the end, although done off-camera). So I would imagine it might be a case of watching both and seeing which you prefer.

The Exchange

Oh, the ending of the Quatermass Experiment TV show is different to the film as well. Prompted by this, I just watched the modern remake.

Still, pissed there was never an official Quatermass and Doctor Who crossover. A waste of awesome potential.

I watched the first episode last night, spent the whole episode going "where's the horror?" got a little taste of it at the end and then watched the trailer for the movie and was all like "Okay, I'll stick with this."

(The transformation, between tv and movie trailer, of Quatermass into an American seemed a little off-putting.)

The Exchange

Well, bear in mind this is the 1950s. Dr Who used to be terrifying in the 70s yet you look at it now and basically the monsters are all made of bubble-wrap. I watched the modern Quatermass remake and basically nothing much happens, and in some ways it's quite slow. It's science fiction really rather than horror, the "terrifying" element being more a product of its time than anything we'd much recognise now (I mean, The Exorcist seems like a well-made art-house movie about possession than the terrifying scream-fest it was at the time). I enjoyed it, but more because of a desire to see it from a completist point of view. I started watching Quatermass 2 (the TV version) and that was quietly creepy, but hardly shocking.

As an aside to Delightful, most of the Jon Pertwee era with UNIT was quite Quatermass-y. The first story of the Third Doctor era is Spearhead from Space, which is almost like a homage to Quatermass 2.

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