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Quatermass II Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Quatermass Ii Large

Directed by Val Guest
Written by Nigel Kneale and Val Guest
1957, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 30th, 2019

Starring:
Brian Donlevy as Prof. Quatermass
John Longdon as Lomax
Sydney James as Jimmy Hall
Bryan Forbes as Marsh
William Franklyn as Brand
Vera Day as Sheila
Charles Lloyd Pack as Dawson

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Professor Bernard Quatermass is the Director General of the British Experimental Rocket Group; a team determined to launch a rocket to the moon and build a lunar base. His team is tracking a concentrated meteor shower that is raining down on the planet in an area not too far from his lab. Quatermass and a colleague take a look, but find the area quarantined. Upon further investigation, they discover someone has constructed the proposed lunar base in the deserted area. The scientists retrieve a small meteorite that splits open and sprays Quatermass’ helper with a corrosive gas, leaving a strange mark on his face. A team of armed guards arrives and escorts the injured man away, instructing the professor to hit the road. He returns to the lab asking questions, but doesn’t like the answers he is discovering. Quatermass has uncovered a conspiracy involving extra-terrestrial life planning to conquer the human race. When the police prove ineffective, he takes it upon himself to lead an uprising against the alien invaders.

In 1953, the BBC ran a popular television serial called The Quatermass Experiment about Britain’s most clever scientist and his goal of space exploration. The series inspired the 1955 Hammer Film production The Quatermass Xperiment directed by Val Guest (The Abominable Snowman), starring Brian Donlevy (Kiss of Death). A sequel arrived in 1957 titled simply Quatermass II with Guest and Donlevy returning – this time joined by series originator Nigel Kneale (Look Back in Anger) taking up scripting duties. Guest employed several cinema vérité techniques such as hand-held cameras, giving the picture the look of a documentary for added realism.

Quatermass was not well known outside the UK, so the picture was retitled Enemy from Space for its US release. Both Quatermass films were profitable, but in 1957 Hammer switched its focus from science fiction to gothic horror with The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula the following year. A third Quatermass picture would follow, but it would take a full decade to arrive. The franchise has influenced countless filmmakers over the following decades with its compelling storyline and dramatic presentation. The television series returned to the BBC in a 2005 reboot that received positive reviews. Fans of The Quatermass Xperiment will definitely want to pick up this middle chapter in the trilogy and newcomers will find a lot to like too.

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Video and Audio:

A pristine archival film print has received a 2K scan and restoration and the results are more than satisfactory. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, there is a lot of rich detail on display that is absent from previous releases. There is a fair amount of day-for-night material that is occasionally on the dark side, but is still watchable.

The original mono recording is preserved in a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that is clean and free from distortion. Dialogue levels are clear and well-balanced with music and sound effects cues.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

There are three audio commentaries on this disc, two are newly recorded and one is a vintage track with the filmmakers. Starting with the new material, the first commentary features film historian Ted Newsom, who jumps right in with his enthusiastic remarks. He shares a lot of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and provides insight on the storytelling and directorial style. There is some onscreen narration, but this is a well-paced discussion.

Up next, film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr provide an engaging conversation about the picture, sharing information on the script, cast performances and direction. They draw comparisons to the original television serial and provide quotes from the filmmakers. This is another great track worth checking out.

The third commentary is a holdover from the DVD release, featuring director Val Guest and screenwriter Nigel Kneale – recorded separately and edited together. The gentlemen reflect on the production and share their memories of the shoot. The track is insightful, but there are some extended gaps of silence.

A brief interview (3 minutes) with Academy Award-winning special effects artist Brian Johnson (Alien) touches on his memories of working on Quatermass II. He has kind words for the director and shares his admiration for the matte paintings used in the film. The segment is frustratingly short and could easily go on for at least ten minutes if given proper attention.

Assistant director Hugh Harlow is also the subject of a too-brief interview (2 minutes) in which he remembers location shooting and filming in the studio. He also shares a funny story about the lead actor’s toupee flying off during a particularly windy scene.

Director Val Guest is the star of the vintage interview Quatermass and the Hammer Experience (21 minutes). He reflects on his career and working with Hammer Films and his approach to the material. Other topics of discussion include casting, set design and working with special effects.

An episode of the World of Hammer television series titled “Sci-Fi” (26 minutes), narrated by Oliver Reed, showcases clips from various Hammer films, including the Quatermass trilogy, Frankenstein Created Woman and X - The Unknown.

The domestic trailer Enemy from Space has been included.

A still gallery plays as a silent slideshow (3 minutes) providing promotional images, lobby cards and international poster art.

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Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Quatermass Ii Small
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: Threeandahalfstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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