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Released in the U.S. as ENEMY FROM SPACE, QUATERMASS 2 ($30) is a solid British science fiction offering from Hammer Productions that captures the paranoid essence that ran through American sci-fi movies throughout the 1950s. While QUATERMASS 2 is writer Nigel Knealeís sequel to THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, one can definitely feel the influence of such American science fiction films as INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE running through it. QUATERMASS 2 stars Brian Donlevy as Professor Bernard Quatermass, an eminent scientist working for the British government. As the film opens, Quatermass is working on setting up a human colony on the moon and has even all the way produced a scale model of his planned domed habitat. Just as the government is about to pull the plug on his project, Quatermass discovers what appears to be a full sized replica his proposed the moon colony built out in the British countryside.

When Quatermass goes to take a closer look at the facility that resembles his moon colony, he discovers the ground littered with small objects that have fallen from the sky. After a colleague is "burned" by one of the objects, armed guards from the facility come to take the injured man away. When Quatermass protests the guardís actions, he is assaulted, but sent on his way. Quatermass tries to report the incident, but finds himself rebuffed by the local authorities. However, when he tells his story Chief Inspector Lomax (John Longden) of Scotland Yard, Lomax informs Quatermass that the "moon colony" facility is part of a secret project that is back by various high ranking members of the British government. With the aid of a suspicious Member of Parliament, Quatermass uncovers that the objects falling from the sky contain living organisms capable controlling the people they infect. With this key piece of the puzzle in hand, Quatermass realizes that the "moon colony" facility is being used as a base for alien colonization effort on Earth.

Unfortunately, with the government under alien control, Quatermass is forced find an alternate way to fight the enemy from space before all of mankind is infected. QUATERMASS 2 runs a taut 85 minutes and director Val Guest maximizes the inherent tension of Nigel Knealeís intelligent screenplay. Guest also makes superb use of a Shell Oil refinery in Britain, which stands in amazingly well for the full sized version of the "moon colony." The cast of QUATERMASS 2 includes Sid James, Bryan Forbes, William Franklyn, Vera Day, Charles Lloyd Pack, Tom Chatto, John Van Eyssen, Percy Herbert and Michael Ripper.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a fine job with their DVD edition of QUATERMASS 2. The DVD comes with a disclaimer indicating that the 35mm fine grain print supplied by the British Film Institute is the best element available, even though the first two minutes of the film have deteriorated due to age. While the first two minutes of QUATERMASS 2 are in rough shape, the rest of QUATERMASS 2 looks astonishingly good. In fact, most of the print is in pristine condition, which is why the loss of the first two minutes serves as a good reminder of how easily cinematic treasures on fragile motion picture film stock can be lost to the ravages of time. The black and white transfer presents QUATERMASS 2 in its 1.37:1 aspect ratio, which will appear full screen on 4:3 displays. Image quality is excellent, once one gets past the deteriorated section of the film. Everything appears crisp and nicely detailed. Blacks and whites are pure, with all the shades of gray between being rendered quite faithfully. Digital compression artifacts do not make their presence known.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is quite good for its age. Dialogue is clean, intelligible and distortion free. Additionally, the track is well worth amplifying for James Bernardís excellent score.

Mild animation, music and sound effects have been added to the interactive menus, which supply one with access to the standard scene selection feature, as well as the DVDís supplements. Director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale provide an informative audio commentary. Considering that the film is more than forty years old, both men must be taxing their memories to come up with the details they offer. This is a good commentary track filled with interesting and amusing stories- a must listen for any Hammer fan. Also included on the DVD is an American theatrical trailer and a half-hour World Of Hammer episode entitled SCI-FI.

QUATERMASS 2 is another Hammer classic that has been given a remarkably good release on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. If you are a Hammer fan, then acquiring the DVD is an absolute must. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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