IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) Reviews and overview

 

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‘It! …Reaches through space! …Scoops up men and women! … gorges on blood!’

It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a 1958 American science -iction horror film directed by Edward L. Cahn (Zombies of Mora TauCurse of the Faceless Man; Invisible Invaders) from a screenplay written by Jerome Bixby (The Twilight Zone ‘It’s a Good Life’; Tales of Frankenstein; Fantastic Voyage). Produced by Robert E. Kent and [uncredited] Edward Small, the Vogue Pictures film was released by United Artists.

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The movie stars Marshall Thompson (Cult of the Cobra; First Man into Space), Shawn Smith (The Land Unknown), Kim Spalding, Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer (Evil TownSundown: The Vampire in Retreat), Paul Langton (The Cosmic Man) and Robert Bice. It! was played by Ray ‘Crash’ Corrigan, previously a specialist at being on screen gorillas.

Plot:

In 1973, a spaceship has landed on Mars, sent to rescue the crew of a previous, ill-fated mission to the Red Planet; they have found only one survivor, Colonel Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson). He is suspected of having murdered the other nine members of his crew for their food and water rations because he would have no way of knowing if or when he would ever be rescued. Carruthers denies this allegation and pleads his innocence, blaming the deaths of his colleagues on an unknown, hostile life-form encountered on Mars.

The rescue ship’s commander remains unconvinced, ordering Carruthers confined to his quarters and an immediate return to Earth, a journey that will take four months. Unknown to the rest of the crew, and before their blast-off from Mars, a crew member has left a large external exhaust vent wide open for a prolonged period of time.

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With Mars now behind them, the crew settles into their shipboard routine for the long journey back home. Before long things start to go wrong. One by one, isolated crew members are attacked by a largely unseen, shadowy presence and dragged away into the ship’s ventilation ducts…

 

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In 1993 It! was adapted by Millennium Publications as a comics series by Mark Ellis and Dean Zachary; a further comic book adaptation was released by IDW in 2010.

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The premise of a hostile alien creature hunting a spaceship’s crew as it returns to Earth was apparently the inspiration for screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay for Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“All in all, It! The Terror from Beyond Space is good fun in an era when we have multiple missions to Mars that have yet to turn up any evidence of aliens – moisture consuming or otherwise. Though it does beg the question, isn’t Mars in space, rather than beyond it?” Geek Legacy

“Cahn’s eerie use of shadow and light builds the menace surrounding the monster, aided by the intense emoting of stalwart character actors like Marshall Thompson and Dabbs Greer. Whereas some Fifties science fiction movies look at space as the place where mankind is left alone with their own troubled psyche, neuroses and fears, this remains sci-fi to jangle your nerves rather than stimulate your brain cells.” The Spinning Image

“For an almost no-budget movie, it actually turned out pretty well, that is, rubber suit monster notwithstanding.  And speaking of effects, they seemed to do the best with what they had.  Most of the sets looked decent, which was a huge bonus, but when you looked at some of the smaller details, like the oxygen dial made of cardboard, you could see the money was just not there.” The Telltale Mind

While It! doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of Howard Hawks’ The Thing, it does possess a feisty kind of claustrophobic energy. The small spaceship proves a nicely controlled setting for the action and Corrigan is spunky as the title monster. But the biggest drawback is the cast, which never manages to distinguish itself.” The Terror Trap

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“The gimmick of a murder mystery giving way to a monster siege makes for a tight narrative, which, once it kicks into gear, never drags. Cahn, a crafty filmmaker who had made literally dozens of small noir films and westerns since the ’30s, turned out several horror and sci-fi films in this time, usually with goofy plots and yet handled with distinctive sobriety and restrained, low-rent atmosphere…” This Island Rod

“Well done sci-fi/horror turns out to be very well-written for its day with some eerie plotting, a few surprisingly suspenseful moments and a first alien attack that makes effective use of shadows. One of the better 50’s efforts even if it’s leisurely paced at times.” The Video Graveyard

“The first part of this movie is a major snoozefest. It’s almost exclusively made up of scenes of astronauts walking around the ship hollering each other’s names over and over and over again […] The film does get markedly better once our boy It starts draining people and turning them into Robert Smith clones.” The Video Vacuum

Blu-ray release:

On April 25, 2016, the film was released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD by 101 Films.

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

On May 19, 2015, the film was released in the US on Blu-ray by Olive Films.

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Buy on Olive Films Blu-ray from Amazon.com

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Cast and characters:

Marshall Thompson … Colonel Edward Carruthers
Shirley Patterson … Ann Anderson (as Shawn Smith)
Kim Spalding … Colonel Van Heusen
Ann Doran … Mary Royce
Dabbs Greer … Eric Royce
Paul Langton … Lt. James Calder
Robert Bice … Major John Purdue
Richard Benedict … Bob Finelli
Richard Hervey … Gino Finelli
Thom Carney … Joe Kienholz
Ray Corrigan … It!
Stuart Hall … Reporter (uncredited)
Mike Morelli … Reporter (uncredited)
Monty O’Grady … Reporter (uncredited)
Bert Stevens … Reporter (uncredited)
Pierre Watkin … Spokesman at Press Conference (uncredited)

Technical details:

69 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono

Trailer:

YouTube reviews: