It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)



(director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: Jerome Bixby; cinematographer: Kenneth Peach; editor: Grant Whytock; cast: Marshall Thompson (Col. Carruthers), Shawn Smith (Ann Anderson), Kim Spalding (Col. Van Heusen), Ann Doran (Mary Royce), Dabbs Greer (Eric Royce), Ray “Crash” Corrigan (“It”), Richard Hervey (Gino), Richard Benedict (Bob Finelli), Robert Bice (Maj. John Purdue), Thom Carney (Joe Keinholz), Paul Langton (Lt. James Calder); Runtime: 68; Vogue; 1958)

“Considering the budget constraints the film was operating under, the film’s special effects were adequate…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A shoestring budget sci-fier from Edward L. Cahn that was the forerunner of Alien (79). It’s about a stowaway worm-like monster from Mars, who is snacking on the space crew.

A spaceship crash-landed on Mars in 1973, as the film begins six months from that time. Two months ago, a rescue ship was sent. When it finally reaches Mars, which is about the size of Texas, the only survivor found is Col. Carruthers (Marshall Thompson)–the first man shot into space. But there are 9 murdered crew members and evidence that some of his crew may have died from gunshot wounds, as the arrogant rescue commander, Col. Van Heusen (Kim Spalding), believes Carruthers killed them for their food supplies and is taking him back for a court martial.

The only one of the crew to listen to Carruthers and not judge him guilty, is the pretty nurse, Ann (Shawn Smith). Carruthers’s defense is that a mysterious creature is doing it, and Ann remains friendly and gives him a chance to prove his innocence. But Van is also keen on Ann, and her attention to Carruthers only makes him despise Carruthers even more.

But soon the hissing “It” creature (Ray “Crash” Corrigan) shows its ugly head and kills Keinholz by osmosis, as it precedes to break all his bones and suck out of him all his body fluids.

The crewmen now are engaged in a life and death struggle with the alien creature, as they find bullets, bombs, and gas can’t kill it. The best battle scene is in the room with the air ducts, as the crew becomes aware if the monster destroys the ducts the ship could drift in space forever.

Considering the budget constraints the film was operating under, the special effects were adequate and it posssessed a well-crafted script by Jerome Bixby; it is devoid for the most part (except for the character played by Kim Spalding) of stock characterizations. It sets an eerie atmosphere by its shadowy photography and in the claustrophobic setting of the spaceship. I happened to like it better than I did Alien, even though the later is technically far superior.


REVIEWED ON 9/23/2001 GRADE: C +