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Directed by Leslie Norman, Joseph Losey (uncredited)
UK 1956

 

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!

***

In many ways a precursor to The Blob (1958) and Caltiki the Undying Monster (1959), X the Unknown (1956) is a much more thought-provoking and serious attempt to demonstrate the consequences of science run amok than your standard monster-on-the-rampage chiller. The film, directed by Leslie Norman, was actually inspired by the success of The Quatermass Xperiment (1955, aka The Creeping Unknown), which was released the previous year and was a box office hit for Hammer Studios. Hammer executive Tony Hinds entrusted fledgling writer Jimmy Sangster with the screenplay for X the Unknown - it was his first feature script - and the result was another hit for Hammer, despite the fact that it earned an 'X Certificate,' restricting it to adult audiences. This was due to some of the more disturbing and explicit special effects, especially in the scene where a hospital intern, interrupted during a sexual tryst, is devoured by the creature, reducing his face and hands to bubbling flesh, then bone. The Quatermass Xperiment, which had also been slapped with an 'X Certificate,' had featured similar scenes as well but the controversy only helped boost the box office receipts of both movies when they were distributed in the U.S., Japan, and Europe.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 5th, 1956

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Review: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:19:54.831
Video

1.75:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,833,442,103 bytes

Feature: 23,520,712,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1102 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1102 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

 

1.75:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,833,442,103 bytes

Feature: 23,520,712,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian/Filmmaker Ted Newsom
NEW The Men Who Made Hammer: Jimmy Sangster Featurette (17:21)
World Of Hammer: Sci-Fi (24:33)
Theatrical Trailer (1:24)


Blu-ray Release Date:
February 18th, 2020
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Shout! Factory Blu-ray (February 2020): Shout! Factory have transferred Hammer Studio's X the Unknown to Blu-ray. It is stated as being from a "New 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Film Element". It's on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate but the source has plenty of light surface scratches. The grain textures are well-supported, it is in the correct 1.75:1 aspect ratio and we have compared two frames from the Australian Shock 1080i transfer where X The Unknown is an extra on their The Quatermass Xperiment Blu-ray disc in the 1.37:1 'negative' ratio. The Shout! Factory looks very pleasing in-motion.

NOTE: We have added 25 more large resolution Blu-ray captures for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Shout! Factory use a DTS-HD Master /1.0 channel mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. It supports the film's audio effects (flat but effective depth) well with a score by frequent Hammer composer, James Bernard (The Terror of the Tongs, The Devil Rides Out, The Plague of the Zombies, Dracula Prince of Darkness, These Are the Damned, Across the Bridge, The Curse of Frankenstein)  really breathing atmosphere into X The Unknown. Shout! Factory offer optional, yellow, English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Shout! Factory Blu-ray offer a new audio commentary with film historian/filmmaker Ted Newsom who is great. he talks about how director Leslie Norman came in very late in the project, about Anthony Newley just starting his career that would flourish extensively after this in music and song-writing, why Joseph Losey (and his Communist affiliations) was replaced - essentially because of Dean Jagger's complaints where an animated Newsom states "Who gives a crap what Dean Jagger wants!?". He talks about Leo McKern's glass eye and much more. It's excellent - well worth the indulgence. There is a 17-minute featurette "The Men Who Made Hammer: Jimmy Sangster" which is decent on showcasing one of the creative forces behind the legendary Hammer Studios. There is another 25-minute episode of World Of Hammer - this one on Sci-Fi and lastly a theatrical trailer.

X the Unknown has more than the The Blob (2-years later) connection. It's good, cheap, Hammer sci-fi fodder. I loved it and to have it with a strong Blu-ray presentation and fun commentary to a great addition to my collection.  For the studio's fans - this is essential. imo.

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


 
1) Shock (The Quatermass Xperiment extra) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP
2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Shock (The Quatermass Xperiment extra) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP
2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 
Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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