We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale
Published by Electric Dreamhouse, 2017. 479 pages.
Edited by Neil Snowdon
I am a huge fan of the Quatermass films that Hammer Films gave us back in the late ‘50s, and the 3rd film, Quatermass and the Pit in the ‘60s. Eventually I was able to track down the original serial versions (or what was left of the first story) on an import DVD. The more I found out about its original creator, Nigel Kneale, the more I discover his other cinematic worlds that he had written, such as The Stone Tapes (1972), The Woman in Black (1989) and the Beasts series (1976). And the more I was impressed.
To say that Kneale was ahead of his time seems to be one of those comments thrown about certain Sci-Fi authors, writing about our future technology. But the difference with Kneale is that while he did do that to a degree, he also seemed to write about our future as human beings. Within those stories, he also could create some unbelievable terrors, without really showing much to the audiences. It made us think.
This book is a collection of essays that covers a wide range of subjects dealing with Kneale and his work. There is chapter by Tim Lucas that cover his lesser-known literary short stories, other ones on specific episodes of his TV shows or films that he created. Mark Chardbourn’s essay, The King of Hauntology sort of gives us a biography of Kneale, except that instead of a straight biography, it goes over different events going on around him at the time, giving possible influences that could have had on him, and his writings.
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Director John Carpenter
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Annie Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Peter Jason, Alice Cooper, Thom Bray, Robert Grasmere, Ken Wright
This is another one of those examples where you have an opinion of a film from the first time you view it, but then at some point in your life, you revisit it to find yourself seeing something more than that first time. I was there opening weekend for this new Carpenter flick and don’t remember if I actually knew anything about the story before hand, but would never miss out on seeing his latest. My first thoughts were that even though I loved the music, I didn’t feel the same way about the film. I felt it was too slow and honestly the idea of a liquid evil or monster was just damn silly. I was also a little confused at who they were trying to bring from the other side, Satan or Satan’s father? Just a little too disjointed for me. At least, at that time. While my love of the score Carpenter did never wavered, eventually scoring a copy from a Japanese CD release (at a pretty penny), I never thought to go back to the film. I mean, if you don’t like something, why go back? But when one of Shout Factory’s Blu-rays came out, I picked it up during a sale and I figured I better give it another shot, trying to be a little more open-minded this time. Continue reading →
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Directed by Val Guest
Starring Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Richard Wordsworth, Margia Dean, Thora Hird, Lionel Jeffries
“There’s no room for personal feelings in science.”
– Professor Bernard Quatermass –
That quote is one of the reason why I enjoy the Quatermass movies so much. What attracted me the most was the blind dedication that Quatermass has, much like one of his fore-fathers… Victor Frankenstein. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt when you have an alien monster on loose either. Continue reading →
“A pioneer in science fiction.” – John Carpenter
If you’re the slightest fan of Hammer, then you’ll probably know who writer Nigel Kneale was, since he was the man responsible for sending Hammer down their path of success with the Quatermass movies, based on his original tele-plays, as well as other Hammer titles like The Abominable Snowman (1957) and The Witches (1966). He also gave us The Stone Tape (1972), a chilling made-for-TV film that needs to be seen, as well as the series Beasts that he wrote. And of course, lets not forget that Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) came from him (though it was highly re-written). John Carpenter was highly influenced by Kneale, even using the pseudonym Martin Quatermass for his film Prince of Darkness.
Now, thanks to the wonderful people at Headpress, you can read all about this fantastic and imaginative writer in their fully revised biography Into the Unknown, which comes out next month. Written by Andy Murray, the book covers Kneale’s career from his childhood to his work at the BBC and beyond, which left us with countless hours of imaginative and fantastic entertainment.
This is one volume that is a must for my library, and should be for yours as well. You can either order it from Amazon, which is only the paperback version. If you want a hardcover version, you have to order that directly from Headpress themselves.