Review of “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958)

trailer from YouTube

This week’s Saturday pizza and bad movie offering is a cheap black-and-white 50s space disaster flick, hearkening back to the war movies of a decade earlier. We watched it with Svengoolie.

Plot:

 The credits roll over an illustration of a crunched cylindrical spaceship on an extraterrestrial plane surrounded by craggy mountains. The viewer is informed that “The events and characters depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, places, or firms is purely coincidental.”

Or perhaps miraculous.

In 1973, the first manned mission to Mars met with tragedy soon after landing. A rescue ship now arrives and finds only one crew member, Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), remains alive. He narrates how he will be going back to Washinton to face his superiors and perhaps another kind of death.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Science Advisory Committee of Interplanetary Exploration holds a  press conference to inform the public that Col. Carruthers will be brought back to earth to face a court-martial for the murders of the rest of his crew.

As the rescue ship prepares to return, Col. Van Heusen (Kim Spalding) sees a warning light flash. Someone left an emergency airlock open. Lt. James Calder (Paul Langton) ‘fesses up. He was dumping empty crates. Col. Van Heusen closes the door remotely, and the shadow of something huge moves across the wall.

Later, Van Heusen, who believes Carruthers guilty, shows him one reason why: a skull recovered from Mars of one of the former crew members with what appears to be a bullet hole. “There’s only one kind of a monster that uses bullets,” he tells Carruthers.

While everyone is smoking and watching a chess game—except the girls, who are in their place and serving coffee—Keinholz (Thom Carney) hears a noise. He goes off to investigate, and that’s the last of Keinholz.

Thoughts:

This could have and should have been a better movie. Indeed, this was one of the inspirations for Alien (1979). The actions are not logical. For example, one tactic our heroes resort to is setting off perhaps two dozen hand grenades aboard a spaceship while traveling between Mars and earth. This, in addition to repeated small arms fire. None of the stores are tied down, not even during take-off.

Sitting in a car at a drive-in (kids, ask your grandparents), I would have found the hulking monster with its fangs and three talons scary as hell, but on tv, it resembled a guy in an over-the-top gorilla suit. This was, in large part, because it was a guy in an over-the-top gorilla suit.

The guy in the gorilla suit was Ray Corrigan, who made a living playing gorillas in movies. He retired after this movie and bought a ranch, which was open to the public on weekends.

The end was not credible, sadly. While I found this movie fun, there were serious credibility issues. If you don’t take things too seriously, this can be an enjoyable little flick.

I could not find this for free download.


Title: It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

Directed by
Edward L. Cahn

Writing Credits
Jerome Bixby…(screenplay)

Cast (in credits order)
Marshall Thompson…Col. Edward Carruthers
Shirley Patterson…Ann Anderson (as Shawn Smith)
Kim Spalding…Col. Van Heusen
Ann Doran…Mary Royce
Dabbs Greer…Eric Royce
Paul Langton…Lt. James Calder

Released: 1958
Length: 1 hour, 9 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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