A bit of classic British science fiction for you all this week. X The Unknown tells the story of a strange mud-like creature that devours certain types of radiation and kills people by rapidly burning them to death.
Yes, like so many early sci-fi the science is a little shaky to say the least. However, we must remember that this film, although really well scripted and acted, came from a time, 1956, when humanity had not yet sent out the first artificial satellite, that came a year later. Sci-fi can often tell us more about the times and the societies in which it is written or filmed, than it does about a particular vision of the future or possible technological development. X-The Unknown is from a time when nuclear power existed as a tangible reality, and a practical technology, yet hardly anyone had telephones, whether they be landline or otherwise.
The plot of this film is simple but engaging. British troops are training at a base in Scotland to learn how to detect and deal with radioactivity. The soldiers had to use a Geiger counter to find where a radioactively hot sample had been buried. All goes well until the signal is lost and it reappears somewhere completely different. Worse than that, several of the soldiers are killed shortly after this incident by mysterious and gruesome means.
There then follows a frantic search by scientists, government officials, police and the military to find out what is bubbling out of the hole in the ground and how to stop it. All this against the backdrop of systemic failures of their communications apparatus.This is a film very much of its time and of its type, but that didn’t stop me from suspending my disbelief for a bit and enjoying it. I hope you enjoy it as well.