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The Creeping Unknown

Business Rating: * *

Weird science-fiction thriller from England stars Brian Donlevy. Will do business in action houses as dualler.

An English import via United Artists, “The Creeping Unknown” is more a horror-thriller than a science-fiction subject. Its strong point is an eerie atmosphere that makes it sporadically engrossing, but fails to build the suspense essential in this kind of film. The creeping something-or-other is a pulsating vegetable growth picked up in outer space, which infects a human being and turns him into a horrifying creature. The gimmick, plus the name of Brian Donlevy (in an otherwise British cast) could be exploited to return fair grosses in action and ballyhoo houses. Donlevy turns in his usual sincere performance as a dogmatic scientist, but, aside from the “creature”, the other characters are meaningless. Val Guest’s direction is heavy with cliches until the climax sequence in which the creeping unknown is cornered on a high scaffold in Westminster Abbey. Donlevy’s interplanetary rocket has returned with one living occupant, played by Richard Wordsworth. Burned and in complete shock, it is apparent that something has infected him. He slowly changes into a monster, and finally into an octopus-like creature that keeps growing and threatens to consume the world. Donlevy destroys the monster with electrodes connected to the Abbey.


FILM Bulletin. “The Creeping Unknown.” FILM Bulletin 24, no. 13 (June 25, 1956): 17.