The Anchor Bay DVD

The DD Video DVD

The Anchor Bay DVD

X THE UNKNOWN

Director: Leslie Norman

Starring: Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Leo McKern

QUATERMASS 2

Director: Val Guest

Starring: Brian Donlevy, John Langdon, Sidney James

Most critics favour Hammerís confident 1967 remake of Quatermass and the Pit, but their chilling adaptation of Quatermass 2 comes a pretty close second. Itís a very effective condensation of the BBC serial, more tightly focussed, and better paced, (it completely discards the final act of the TV version, which had Quatermass pursuing the alien menace into space, for example). The film finds Quatermass (Brian Donlevy, reprising his role from The Quatermass Experiment) investigating a mysterious meteorite shower near a recently built food-processing factory. The film has numerous flaws, not least of which is Donlevyís leaden performance, but also contains some very compelling set pieces.

ANCHOR BAY'S REGION 0 (NTSC) QUATERMASS 2 DVD

Anchor Bayís full-screen presentation is a little dark, (the day-for-night scene at the beginning is very grim, and extremely grainy), and the film looks quite worn throughout. Compression artefacts are evident, but the disc remains very serviceable. The disc comes with an invaluable commentary track by Guest and Kneale, a breathless trailer (under the film's American title Enemy From Space) and the Sci-Fi episode of The World of Horror.

DD VIDEO'S REGION 0 (PAL) QUATERMASS 2 DVD

Unsurprisingly, picture quality is better on DD Video's more recent, PAL version of Quatermass 2, which offers better contrast and detail. Apart from that, the two transfers arenít much different, with both exhibiting similar problems inherent in the source materials.

The UK disc offers the same bonus features as the Anchor Bay version, as well as an extra, eight-minute video interview with director Val Guest. The DD Video disc comes with a lavish booklet featuring production notes).

ANCHOR BAY'S REGION 0 (NTSC) X THE UNKNOWN DVD

X The Unknown was released shortly after Hammerís enormous success with the first film in their Quatermass trilogy (The Quatermass Experiment), and has lived in their shadow ever since. The 1956 science fiction movie concerns an apparent radiation leak on a moor near a Scottish research establishment, and the persistent investigation of a dogged atomic scientist (Hammerís ticket to American distribution, waning star Dean Jagger). Itís tone falls somewhere between the B-movies that proliferated in the US during the 50s and the hardcore chills offered a year later in Quatermass II. Their DVD offers a generally fine, full-screen presentation that has solid areas of black, crisp whites, and a full sweep of greys between. The disc also contains a sombre theatrical trailer (ďthis is the rim of HellĒ!) and an episode of The World of Horror titled Sci-Fi, that also covers the three Quatermass films, Spaceways, The Damned, Frankenstein Created Woman and Dick Barton Strikes Back, but not, curiously, Hammer's most obviously science fiction movie, Moon Zero Two.

DD VIDEO'S REGION 0 (PAL) X - THE UNKNOWN DVD

DD Video's X The Unknown offers improved picture quality, but this alone isn't worth upgrading from the Anchor Bay DVD. Thankfully, in addition to the bonus features inherited from the Anchor Bay disc, there's added incentive from an exclusive video interview with the filmís writer and production manager, Jimmy Sangster (20m) and an exclusive commentary track, by Sangster and Hammer buff Marcus Hearn. Like most of DD's Hammer horror discs, X - The Unknown comes with a wonderful booklet, featuring stills and promotional artwork from the film in question, and a comprehensive essay.

 

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