Quatermass 2 (a.k.a. Enemy From Space in the United States) is a 1957 black-and-white British science fiction horror film drama from Hammer Film Productions, produced by Anthony Hinds, directed by Val Guest, that stars Brian Donlevy, and co-stars John Longden, Sid James, Bryan Forbes, Vera Day and William Franklyn. Qautermass 2 is a sequel to Hammer's earlier film The Quatermass Xperiment (1955). Like its predecessor, it is based on the BBC Television serial Quatermass II written by Nigel Kneale. Brian Donlevy reprises his role as the eponymous Professor Bernard Quatermass, making him the only actor to play the character on screen twice.
As Professor Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) struggles to gain government support for his moon colonisation project, his interest becomes focused on reports of hundreds of meteorites landing in Winnerden Flats. Travelling there with Marsh, his colleague (Bryan Forbes), Quatermass finds a huge complex under construction, based on his lunar colony plans. Marsh finds an undamaged meteorite is shaped like a small stone rocket. It then cracks open, releasing a gas, leaving him with an odd V-shaped mark on his face. Black-clad guards from complex arrive, armed with machine guns and sporting similay V-shapped marks, and take Marsh away, knocking down Quatermass and ordering him to leave.
Trying to discover what happened to Marsh, Quatermass contacts Inspector Lomax (John Longden), who had previously assisted him (see The Quatermass Xperiment). Lomax puts him in touch with Vincent Broadhead (Tom Chatto), a Member of Parliament, who has been trying to uncover the veil of secrecy surrounding Winnerden Flats. Quatermass joins Broadhead on an offical tour of the complex, which he is told has been built to manufacture artifical food. Slipping away from the visiting party, Broadhead attempts to get inside one of the large domes that dominate the skyline. Quatermass later finds him dying, covered in a poisonous black slime.
Shot at by guards as he exits, Quatermass rushes to Inspector Lomax, explaining that he believes that the complex in indeed making food but not for human consumption. Its purpose is to provide a sultable living environment for small alien creatures being housed inside the huge domes. Lomax attempts to alert his superiors, but when he meets the Commissioner of Police, he notices that he, too, is sporting the V-shapped mark; the aliens have taken control of the government.
Quatermass and Lomax then turn to journalist, Jimmy Hall (Sid James), who is skeptical of their story but asks to visit Winnerden Flats. At the local community centre, they receive a hostile reception from locals employed to do harvey construction and other work at the complex. The mood changes, however, when one of the meteorite-missiles crashes through the building roof, injuring barmaid Sheila (Vera Day). Armed guards arrive and gun down Hall after the telephones the press. The villagers form a mob that marches on the complex. Rushingthe gates, Quatermass, Lomax, and the villagers barricade themselves on the pressure control room.
Realing that earth's atmosphere must be poisonous to the alien, Quatermass sabotages their life support system, pumping oxygen into the large domes. Simultaneously, Quatermass' assistant, Brand (William Franklyn), sacrifices his life by launching a Quatermass rocket at an asteroid believed to be invasion's staging point. The individual creatures combine their small bodies to create huge 50-foot tall creatures that soon burst from the domes. The rocket destroys the asteroid with a nuclear explosion. Their base gone and now fully exposed to earth's atmosphere, the giant masses of combined creatures collapse and die. The V-shaped marks disappear from those affected, leaving them with no memory of having been under alien control. As they head back to the village, Lomax wonders aloud how he'll make a believable report on all that's happened. More pointedly, Quatermass questions just how final will that report be ...
The first Quatermass film had been a major success for Hammer and, eager for a sequel, they purchased the rights to Nigel Kneale's follow-up before the BBC had even begun transmission of the new serial. For this adaptation, Nigel Kneale himself was allowed to write the first draft of the screenplay, although subsequent drafts were worked on by director Val Guest. The plot is a condensed but largely retelling of the original television serial. The main difference between the two versions is the climax: in the television version Quatermass blasts off in a rocket to confront the aliens in outer space, whereas in the film the rocket is fired, unmanned, to destroy the aliens' asteroid base. Returning director Val Guest once again employed many cinema vérité techniques to present the fantastic elements of the plot with the greatest degree of realism. Nigel Kneale was critical of the final film, mainly on account of the return of Brian Donlevy in the lead role. Kneale was unhappy with Donlevy's interpretation of the character and also clamied the actor's performance was marred by his alcoholism, a claim denied by Val Guest.
Although Quatermass 2 was financially successful, its box office performance was eclipsed by the massive sucess another Hammer film, The Curse of Frankenstein, which was to be the first of their many Gothic horror films. As a result it would be ten years before Hammer adapted the next Quatermass serial for the cinema with Quatermass and the Pit in 1967. Quatermass 2 was, however, the first film for which Hammer pre-sold the distribution rights in the United States, a financial model that would quickly become the norm for subsequent Hammer productions.
Nigel Kneale had been unhappy with Hammer's adaptation of The Quatermas Experiment, partly because he received on extra remuneration from the sale of the film rights and partly because of the changes made in the film to his original television script. In the wake of his dissatisfaction, Kneale exerted pressure on the BBC to allow him to be more involved in the sale of the rights to his work. Despite being in the final months of his BBC contract, Kneale was allowed to collaborate with Hammer on the adaptation of Quatermass II. The first draft of the screenplay was written by Kneale with input from producer Anthony Hinds. Subsequent drafts were worked on by director Val Guest, as he had done before on The Quatermass Xperiment. Guest recalled of Kneale's script that three was “lots of philosophising and very down-to-earth thinking but it was too long, it would not have held screenwise. So, again, I had to tailor it and hopefully not ruin it”.