Quatermass II: Enemy from Space (1957)

Genres - Science Fiction, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Release Date - Sep 1, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Directed by Val Guest and based on Nigel Kneale's teleplay, Quatermass 2 is considered a science fiction classic, one of the two best movies in that genre to emerge from England in the 1950s, along with its predecessor, The Quatermass Xperiment. The first free-standing feature film to use the number "2" in its title, it was a surprisingly nasty and cold-blooded thriller with a serious message: the story takes place against a backdrop of mounting government secrecy, deeper than anything seen in England since the war, and comments on the ways that democratic governments increasingly felt compelled to act amidst the Cold War and the Red Scare. The movie is often compared to Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was made at the time that Kneale wrote his original teleplay, but it goes deeper than that: the alien invasion of England, village by village, is depicted in grim enough terms, but Kneale and Guest focus on the ways that the invaders appropriate Cold War secrecy to their own ends, turning the government's policies against the country and the people. In that sense, Quatermass 2 has nearly as much in common with All the President's Men as with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As in Alan J. Pakula's dramatization of the fall of Richard Nixon, the heroes are men who dare to speak up.