|Mysterious objects have been falling from the sky|
Recently Quatermass 2, the late ‘50s Hammer remake of Quatermass II, was on telly. I love Quatermass and I love Hammer, so it couldn’t fail, right? Wrong. The main thing I didn’t like about the film was the one thing that couldn’t be ignored: I really didn’t like Brian Donlevy as the Professor. Apparently the character’s creator, Nigel Kneale, also wasn’t keen on Donlevy in the role. For me, Quatermass has to be an eccentric British boffin, someone whose brilliance can be mistaken for madness. I see him as nudging close to the line that divides Dr Jekyll or Dr Moreau from respectable scientists. Donlevy is American, and in common with the heroes of the American SF movies of the 1950s it always feels as though he has the potential for action. I’m not saying Donlevy is bad, but he’s not Quatermass!
The storyline is a cut-back version of Quatermass II. As in the original, strange objects have been falling from the sky, and Professor Quatermass, investigating them, discovers a factory that is allegedly developing artificial food, where the workers all behave in a very strange manner. Where do the objects come from, and how are they connected with the workers at the factory? However, the film is less inclusive than the television programme. The global aspect of the story is missing – whereas in the original version, artificial food factories the same as the one Quatermass investigates exist in Siberia and Brazil, in the film there’s no reference to other countries.
|The 'artificial food plant' looks suspiciously like a space colony...|
Quatermass’ daughter, Paula, is another casualty of the conversion, and that’s a real shame because in the series she helps track an asteroid using a radio telescope, and takes part in the analysis of a substance her father finds. In the film, the most prominent female at Quatermass’ research centre is a secretary - who gets sent out of the way when serious science is being discussed.
All in all, I found this an unsatisfying version of the original series, lacking much of the atmosphere and global scale.