X The Unknown
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- Aspect Ratio : 1.77:1
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 1.78 x 19.05 x 13.72 cm; 167.83 Grams
- Item Model Number : BRSF20726
- Media Format : NTSC, Subtitled
- Run time : 1 hour and 20 minutes
- Release date : 18 February 2020
- Actors : X THE UNKNOWN
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : English (DTS-HD 2.0)
- Studio : UNIVERSAL
- ASIN : B07ZWBPMDK
- Number of discs : 1
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"Entertaining, suspenseful ... a well-produced piece of science-fiction ... a step above many of the monster movies that came out in the same time period" – The Telltale Mind Can anything escape this terror? British commandos on maneuvers become ill with mysterious symptoms and horrific burns. Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger), an atomic scientist from a nearby research station, suspects lethal radiation ... but is mystified by the cause. At a nearby hospital, the phenomenon reappears and engulfs more innocent people, including a hospital orderly whose skin melts away from his body! Dr. Royston speculates that the unknown is on a quest to absorb radiation and expand in size and range as it claims more and more victims. As time runs short, he becomes desperate to trap the entity before its power overcomes mankind!
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The film itself, Hammer’s second attempt at sci-fi—following their adaptation of The Quatermass Xperiment, the previous year—is a well-rounded and entertaining yarn, set on a remote Scottish moor. During radiation-detection exercises, a group of soldiers discover a strange level of radioactivity emanating from the ground. Following a fatality, an atomic radiation expert (Oscar-winning US actor Dean Jagger) is called in to investigate and comes to realise there is something sinister oozing beneath the ground.
Though not quite up to the standard of Hammer’s Quatermass films, this works well in its own right if you’re into this sort of affair. Jagger carries the film effortlessly and the supporting cast are all good.
It owes more to fifties sci-fi and cold war paranoia than the later, “Universal”-inspired, Hammer films. That said, though, there are fleeting glimpses of what would later become their trademark style (some very gothic trees and an old tower, melting faces etc.). The set designs and special effects are minimal but effective, whilst overall the cinematography (stark settings, good contrast) is appropriate to the era and works well.
The picture, of this release, throughout is generally high to excellent. Other than a brief (milliseconds) blurring here and there, it is as good as could be expected from a relatively low interest film from this era. There are also occasional specks, and split-second lines, but nothing that will distract you (you will barely notice them). Upscaled on a blu-ray player, there is a good level of detail (hairs on heads are clearly visible and you can also see the herringbone stitches in their tweed outfits etc.).
Also included, with this edition, is a well-presented 24-page booklet of “viewing notes”. This gives a good background to the film, as well as some nice stills and promotional material, and is written by Marcus Hearn and Jonathon Rigby.
Interview with Hammer writer Jimmy Sangster.
Audio commentary with Jimmy Sangster and Marcus Hearn.
Recently I decided to buy the DVD, invite a few mates over and have a nostalgia evening. I enjoyed it as much as I did originally, and so did they. For the date, a very decent story line, well acted and the 'special effects' used well within their capacity, so even now they don't look silly. The film quality visually I found acceptable, as for the sound, I use hearing aids but I could hear the dialogue with little problem.
If you like early well crafted British SiFi/Horror, you will certainly enjoy this.
My copy has arrived, and I hope it's not an indicator of the rest of Icon's classic Hammer output. The good news is that the X certificate screen is presented at the start. The bad news, and it is very bad news is that it's a dirty, scratched print and is covered in random colour noise. It's normally a clue that an older, composite analogue master has been used. Worst of all is ghosting reminiscent of either a NTSC to PAL conversion, or a dodgy interlaced one. Iffy sound tops it all off. It's noisy, full of clicks and pops and sometimes has a high pitched whine to it that'll set your dog off howling. Some dialogue in the second half of the film becomes inaudible through the sheer level of loud pops.
The disclaimer at the start about the quality and age of the material is surely a joke. The age or otherwise of a film is not an excuse to release a substandard DVD when better source materials do exist. It's criminal that such outstanding films from the history of British cinema are presented this way in 2011.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!! What a terrible disc.