Pod 9 From Outer Space Episode 1 The Quatermass Xperiment Transcript

opening music Liz: Hi! Welcome to the new podcast from Pencil/Paper, that we’re tentatively calling “Pod 9 From Outer Space”, in which we’re gonna watch some, I think the phrase would be “good-bad” films, and yeah we’re gonna talk about them, because we both love different kinds of good-bad films. I am Liz, and I enjoy full-on schlock creature features and Syfy original movies Nick: I’m Nick, I like weird slices of kitsch and experimental films L: And the first film that we have watched is 1955’s “The Quatermass Xperiment”, directed by Val Guest. If you’re American you may have heard of this film as “The Creeping Unknown” aka the film that killed a guy N: That’s right, as part of a double feature with, what was it? L: “Black Sleep” N: “Black Sleep” L: Starring Basil Rathbone, my favourite Sherlock Holmes N: Yeah that’s something where we’re gonna be getting into in a future episode I think L: I’m hoping for that to be episode 2, if you don’t mind N: We could go for that yeah L: Double feature N: Yeah L: So I think that the first thing I noticed about this film, is how it has a very clear message N: It does L: Like there’s a guy who’s basically in one scene near the start, and the last scene, whose whole thing is “I read the bible and you shouldn’t be doing all this science” N: He is the simple bible man L: I think he actually calls himself a bible man N: Don’t think it, don’t say it L: So the basic premise of the Quatermass Xperiment, is three men go to space, just general space, to see what’s there. They come back, two of them have been turned to jelly, and the other one is undergoing some sort of weird metamorphosis N: Yep L: And then he gets loose N: Footloose L: And fancy free? N: Oh no, there’s no fancies here. I’m a simple bible man, and I won’t stand for any fancies L: It is – it is described as a Gothic science fiction which I feel is accurate just because when we were watching it you were talking about how there’s a lot of very Frankenstein-y moments? N: Yes there’s one person having this horrifying transformation, he looks at an innocent young girl who’s just got the worst little kid acting L: Like full on small-girl-in-the-50s acting, complete with a dolly, having a tea party on…an abandoned barge, I think? N: Yeah. Oh god L: Talking about how she’s not like other girls, because they’re all interested in dresses and dolls, while she does – has a tea party with her doll N: In a dress. Oh god and… L: Yup. To be fair the dress might not have been her choice, she’s quite small. She can’t be more than like, eight N: Fair. But, one thing I found, really it’s just one step away from the kid literally going high voice la-la-la-la-la-la-la L: Oh it really was, wasn’t it N: It’s that, it’s that kind of kid where you go “ok are you actually a child or did somebody put a RADA graduate in a hydrolic press to make them small enough L: Fun fact, that little girl grew up to almost marry Paul McCartney N: Oh you mean the guy from Wings? L: Yeah N: Nice L: Yeah I don’t, like I’m trying to think if there were any big names in this and the only one that I can really place is Dame Thora Hird, who appears as a disgruntled cockney woman N: Oh she’s so disgruntled and very cockney L: I believe her name is Rosy, and she is the MVP of this film N: Yeah when she opens her mouth all you hear is the sound of Bow Bells L: Which makes the dialogue difficult but, you know, she pushes through N: She really does, she really does it’s…do not ask for whom the Bow bells toll, ’cause you’re brown bread L: Indeed. Thoroughly wholemealed N: Thoroughly. So, one thing I liked was the monster, the monster reveal. Which I believe it was tripe, wasn’t it? L: It was! It was a pile of tripe. So they blur it, so you can’t tell that it’s tripe, but also it’s really obviously just a pile of tripe that they’ve like, got on a string N: Yeah L: spooky voice To make it crawl towards the mice in the lab! N: What I like is that this is a production around the tail end of rationing, and things like that, L: 55 N: Yeah, so people would be so familiar with something of tripe quality. They’d be very much used to that level of food so it’s just, you could only go worse by putting some spam there, honestly L: See the tripe at least fits because they keep talking about this jelly, and gelatinous substances, so it kind of tracks, ’cause I think the actual description is a meaty jelly N: They’re being haunted by 1970s cooking L: Essentially. Which I think means they’re being haunted from the future but it is sci-fi so… N: Ok I’d watch something with future ghosts, that’s pretty neat L: Yeah me too. I wonder if there’s anything out there with future ghosts N: There probably is. In terms of production quality, I think they did pretty well, ’cause it’s easy to mock sci-fi from the 50s and 60s but we’re not really here for that, we want to do honest appraisals L: Well yeah, considering that this is, you’ve got practically no budget, you can’t do CG and all that fancy still N: Nope L: And also like you said we’re at the tail end of rationing so there’s still a shortage of quite a lot of stuff, I think the tripe creature actually works quite well N: Yeah L: As long as you don’t think of it as “the Tripe Beast” which is what I was N: I was trying not to think of it but – and it did help by getting quite phallic, so I wasn’t thinking about tripe at that point. Although I will correct you on one minor point, there was some CGI in the film. The hay the lovers cavort about in at the beginning was rendered by an IBM mainframe the size of a semi-detached house in Norfolk L: Wait, the mainframe was in Norfolk or is the size of specifically a Norfolk house? N: Norfolk house I mean, you know you getting people saying “is that a regular sized semi or is that a Norfolk semi?” L: It’s one of the imperial units, right, isn’t it, a Norfolk House. There was – the haystack thing though I did like because it’s one of those classic horror tropes where they’re about to get down to business and then the event happens, in this case a spaceship crashes in the field next to them N: Yeah it’s, it is unfortunate, there really should be a PSA about it L: And that couple does not appear again N: No L: They’re just there to almost have sex, that’s their entire function N: Did they actually not die? L: No they just don’t show up again, it’s just the farm where it crashes in gets cordoned off, which is also where one of them lives, I couldn’t work out whose Dad the Dad was N: Yeah L: And then we just go to labs and hospitals and Westminster cathedral and we don’t see them again N: I quite liked, honestly, them not dying, because you expect it so much that it’s no longer a shock to you it’s, it’s dog bites man L: I like to imagine that they just went on to live normal happy farmer lives N: And cavorted in many haystacks. Too many, some say L: But they’re prudes. They’re bible men N: They are bible men, who live by the good book, and they don’t brook with any kind of sci-fi nonsense like space travel or science. Or fiction L: Or double feature picture shows. Which we know can be fatal N: They can be. So, we haven’t died yet L: We haven’t N: No. We’ve been through one half of the double feature, and we’re ok. We’re spacing it out for health reasons. We might watch the other one later L: It’d be a pretty awful podcast if we died preparing for the first episode N: Yeah, it’s generally seen as a bad business strategy. Unless, we become sort of like the, you know the typical starving artist who dies and then their podcasts are worth much more L: And we haunt Apple Podcasts forever N: Yeah we can get some beautiful posthumous sponsorship deals on our one episode L: Like Casper? N: Yep! L: giggles Yeah like, there’s, the whole “science is bad” theme though, like we definitely get it straight away because the actual Quatermass character, he keeps talking about “well it’s ok if the three people in the spaceship die, because they did it for science” N: They sure did L: Which like, I don’t know, it’s just interesting that there’s such an anti-science bent to it, but I guess a lot of sci-fi is about sort of, playing God, and hubris, and things like that N: Yeah I think…I think… L: I mean this is why Frankenstein’s called The Modern Prometheus N: Yeah and it makes a whole lot of sense that there’d be an explosion of sorts, after World War 2, of this kind of thing ’cause, I mean you, in Japan especially you got Godzilla and stuff like that, very explicitly and obviously about dealing with the atomic age and I guess this is a similar thing, there’s great powers probing the limits of space, hoping for discovery but at the same time as part of a broader conflict, and that’s existentially terrifying L: It really is. I guess I’m just not used to Hammer films having much of a message because that’s not what Hammer is known for, Hammer is known for Vincent Price being an absolute ham around whatever monster he’s facing this time N: It is very fun to see that, so the enemy being sort of the transgression of boundaries L: There is a beautiful line actually, they say “can we know what’s on the other side of the air” N: Yeah L: Which is very much placing that boundary there but it’s also just so poetic, like “on the other side of the air” sounds like a poem from the 20s that people read at funerals N: It does. It makes me think of a much older, well, a lot more biblical conception of the world and its contents it feels, it brings to mind the firmament and things like that, where they’re properly piercing it, and it’s interesting that it becomes – it sets the whole thing up as kind of blasphemy L: Yeah this is before we actually see the sort of infected guy, whose name I can’t remember right now, I’m going to have to check and you can just edit. Yeah, Caroon, he’s called, who – he has a very interesting face, I think, the guy that plays Caroon – Richard Wordworth, direct descendant of William Wordsworth, acting in a B-movie which, honestly I can see Wordsworth saying “on the other side of the air” N: Yeah, he definitely would say something like that L: As an English graduate, how do you think Wordsworth would feel about a film where an alien parasite turns cellular beings into jelly? N: It’s hard to say because I think there was definitely, there’s definitely a tendency towards the fantastical in Romantic poetry. Wordsworth tended to be a lot more abstract than some of the others, like Shelley and Keats and Coleridge, and Blake even, I think they’d be more into the concept because I think they’d be more likely to do great big dramas and epic bits of verse about feuding gods and things like that, they’d really enjoy the theological implications. But Wordsworth I think he had quite a conservative turn later in life and I think he’d be a bit nonplussed about this new mass entertainment L: Would he be disappointed in his great-great-great-great Grandson N: Yeah I think so L: I believe that’s the right amount of greats N: He would, he’d be all exaggerated northern accent “oh no, this is…” L: Was that your attempt at a Lakes voice? N: No, I wasn’t thinking about where he was from, I was gonna, I was just trying to relay disappointment same accent “oh no” L: same accent “oh no” N: same accent “oh no” L: same accent “what’ve you done now? You’ve done a science fiction” N: same accent “all over the floor” L: same accent “there’s tripe everywhere” N: same accent “you’ve got it all on my poems, on my little journals” L: same accent “you’ll smudge it, lad!” normal voice But another thing I like about this film is that there’s a point where his wife enlists a private eye to break him out of hospital, which just in itself is a wild concept, but he’s in hospital with PTSD and mysterious-space-disease N: Oh I had that in Greece once L: I feel like a lot of the problems could have been avoided by just telling his wife why she couldn’t see him, because he then uses a cactus that he stole from the hospital room to escape from her, and goes on the run, and ends up interrupting a broadcast of the restoration of Westminster Abbey N: I really enjoyed the specificity of that honestly, especially because they had, obviously had to work on a sound stage instead of the actual location L: Yeah the Westminster Abbey set looks like they just borrowed it from a stage play of Hamlet N: It really does L: Which it probably was to be honest N: The think I love about that is feasibly, around this time when you’ve got a whole lot of informative BBC shows which can be quite niche or boring, you could easily just have a regional church somewhere, some kind of Songs of Praise thing, rather than he let’s film – let’s do – set this in an iconic place and… L: That we make no attempt to imitate. We don’t even get an exterior shot of Westminster Abbey like, there’s got to be some B-roll that they had available that they just didn’t use N: Yeah, it’s like shooting Venice in a bathtub L: Is that like fish in a barrel? N: You could put some fish in there, dunno L: They’re returning! We were the virus N: We were the tripe L: We were the space jelly disease! So, on a scale on one to a field of tents, how camp is this film, do you think? N: I honestly don’t think it’s that camp. Maybe a couple of tents, I’ll give it a tent for some quite stagy acting at times L: I feel like the little girl deserves a whole camp point on her own N: Yeah, she’s definitely got a little pop-up one L: One of those ones you play with in the garden N: Yeah, she’s sitting out in the garden, minding her own business, playing with her dolls. And there’s another one for the…another one for the tripe L: That one’s just like a handkerchief propped up on a twig. ‘Cause honestly like, considering they were very limited in what they could achieve, the tripe, the tripe beast wasn’t that bad N: And honestly, yeah it looks gross L: But it’s supposed to N: That’s fine, yeah L: It’s a person that got turned into jelly N: That works yeah, and it’s quite a good literal representation of this thing because it’s a big hunk of meat and they said “look it’s a big hunk of meat”, basically, so that tracks. The science holds up L: So on this one to a field of tents scale it’s maybe, a family night in the garden? N: Yeah, yeah definitely. Family night in the garden, you’re out there a couple hours, you get a bit bored, you go back inside to your nice bed L: So, we want to thank you for listening to this experimental first episode N: As if the next episode’s aren’t going to get any less experimental L: If you enjoyed it, and you want to maybe chuck us a couple of quid N: Please do L: Because we are two unemployed disabled people N: We need tripe L: I do like tripe though N: Buy us tripe L: Buy us tripe at ko-fi.com/podnine, that’s P-O-D-N-I-N-E, and we will be back with “The Black Sleep” N: Yep. See you next time closing music

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