Quatermass 2 is the first sequel to actually use the number “2” in the title. The character of Bernard Quatermass was created by Nigel Kneale for The Quatermass Experiment. This was a groundbreaking piece of British sci-fi horror when the series aired in 1953, with Quatermass investigating what happened to his rocketship when it returns to Earth with two men missing and the survivor catatonic. It’s soon discovered the ship ran into an alien lifeform which threatens to overtake the world if it isn’t destroyed.
The series was a huge success and Kneale soon penned two more series, with the second season following in 1955 and Quatermass and the Pit in 1958. Not only are the Quatermass shows considered landmarks in British television, but they also had a profound impact on series like the original Doctor Who series. The three serials were also adapted into movies by Hammer, with the success of 1955’s The Quatermass Xperiment helping established the company’s reputation for horror. Hammer’s 1967 version of Quatermass And The Pit is also considered a genre classic and is arguably the most famous of the franchise.
Kneale was famously opinioned about how filmmakers handled his work, including removing his name from 1982’s Halloween III: The Season Of The Witch when his original script was rewritten. While he liked Hammer’s Quatermass And The Pit, he wasn’t fond of The Quatermass Xperiment – especially since the BBC sold the movie rights without paying him extra – and felt the miscasting of gruff American actor Brian Donlevy as Quartermass hurt the project. Nonetheless, Donlevy was brought back for Hammer Horror’s 1955 version of Quatermass 2, and while it’s far from the first movie sequel ever produced, it appears to be the first to use “2” to denote its status.
Quatermass 2 is something of an Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers-style tale, where Donlevy’s scientist discovers that alien parasites are controlling humans as they quietly plan an invasion. The sequel had a higher budget than the original, which can be seen with the increase in action and creature effects, and it condensed many of the events of the original serial. The horror is still surprisingly effective in parts today, including the grim realization that the alien’s minions have pulped human bodies into a pipe to prevent Quatermass from using it to kill the alien creatures hiding out in a tank.
Since the original show and the character were little known in the U.S., Hammer retitled the horror sequel Enemy From Space. While Quatermass 2 being the first numbered sequel gives it an intriguing footnote in film history, it’s generally considered the weakest of the Hammer trilogy. That said, it’s a very enjoyable pulp sci-movie. Kneale wasn’t particularly happy with it either despite working on the script. He later brought his saga to a close with 1979’s Quatermass, a four-part TV series starring John Mills in the title role, and Jaws 3D’s Simon MacCorkindale co-starring.