Review by Steve D. Stones
Enemy From Space (1957), also known as Quatermass II, is the sequel to the 1955 science fiction film – The Creeping Unknown (aka The Quatermass Xperiment). Brian Donlevy stars as Professor Bernard Quatermass, a space rocket engineer. Quatermass heads a government funded space travel program near Winnerden Flats in the English countryside. His funding for a space colonization project is slowly being taken away by bureaucrats who want to put a stop to his costly project.
Quatermass' facility of operation detects a barrage of what appears to be meteor fragments falling in the nearby community. As part of his investigation into this matter, Quatermass and a research scientist named Marsh travel to a nearby top secret space facility that is heavily guarded by military personnel. On a hillside above the space installation, Quatermass and Marsh see a series of large domes inside the fenced installation that look very similar to a small scale model found at Quatermass' laboratory. Marsh picks up a strange fragment on the ground. His cheek begins to melt after touching his face. Military trucks filled with armed men arrive and arrest Marsh, but leave Quatermass behind after knocking him out with a rifle.
Quatermass rushes to a local pub in the nearby town to get the help of police. There he is greeted by local citizens who refuse to help him and won't allow him to use the telephone. On the wall of the pub is a sign that states: Remember: Secrets Mean Sealed Lips. This is a clear sign that the locals are trying to hide something. Quatermass is determined to find out what the locals are hiding.
Joining a tour group, Quatermass gains entrance into the heavily guarded space installation to find out what happened to his friend Marsh and to discover the secrets of the installation. He leaves the tour group to do some investigating of his own and runs into a screaming man walking down the stairs outside one of the giant domes. The man is covered in a steaming dark sludge that is burning his flesh. The man had fallen into a large vat of the hot sludge. Apparently this sludge is part of the mixture for a synthetic food of some kind.
The best suspense is saved for last when Quatermass and some locals open fire on one of the large domes, causing it to explode and unleash giant sludge monsters. Like the ending of the first film – The Creeping Unknown, the giant monster is not shown until the end of the film, which helps to build suspense in anticipation of seeing the monster.
Like so many films of the 1950s, Enemy From Space plays on the fears of government secrecy and the conflict of science versus the military. Scientists and military personnel conflict with each other throughout the entire film. The film also addresses the issue of losing ones identity and transforming into a different being, much like Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1957), I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) and Roger Corman's – It Conquered The World (1956). When characters in the film touch a meteor fragment, their minds and identities change immediately.
Fans of the Quatermass series will disagree with me, but I find Enemy From Space to be an even better, more suspenseful and intelligent film than its predecessor – The Creeping Unknown. The music score by James Bernard has to be one of the creepiest and most intense music scores found in any 1950s science-fiction film.
For other entries in the Quatermass series, don't miss Five Million Years To Earth (aka Quatermass & The Pit) from 1967, The Quatermass Conclusion, a four hour TV series from 1980 and of course the 1958-59 TV show of Quatermass and The Pit. Happy viewing!