Monday, April 29, 2013

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) Review

It! The Terror from Beyond Space poster
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Stars: Marshall Thompson, Shirley Patterson, Ann Doran
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror

It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a black-and-white Science Fiction Horror film straight from the Cold War Space Age. Directed by Edward L. Cahn whom may be remembered for his other work in the genre such as Invasion of the Saucer Men, Zombies of Mora Tau, and Invisible Invaders.

The story concerns a crew of astronauts who are returning to Earth but, much to their dismay, an Alien from Mars snuck onto their ship and it wants to kill them all.

The film is perhaps most notable for being, along with Planet of the Vampires, one of the primary influences on Ridley Scott's Alien. They share very similar concepts and plots. But It! The Terror from Beyond Space, though really the first of its kind in that it's essentially a monster movie on a spaceship, feels an awful lot like it's The Thing From Another World in space. And I'm sure the film took a lot of inspiration from the highly influential 1951 film.

The film does have a level of camp to it, but then again what 50s sci-fi film doesn't? It's camp appeal really only comes from it's dated special effects and scientific inaccuracies, but the film never really feels too cheesy. It's never overly unintentionally funny and it can actually be viewed and enjoyed as a serious piece of work. 

The special effects are as you may expect them to be from a low-budget 50s sci-fi monster movie. The monster/alien, whose design isn't anything special by the way, is obviously a man in a rubber suit, the spaceship looks like cardboard, etc, etc. But, like anyone who frequently views 50s films of the fantastical, you learn to get past all that.

The character development is minuscule, the acting is passable at best, the story goes very little further than its concept (i.e. alien on ship killing people), and there's a sort of romantic sub-plot going on that is so thin that you'll hardly notice it (which is a good thing, because romance has no business in a sci-fi horror). I thought it was kind of neat how the monster slowly worked his way up the spaceship (the ship is essentially a tube with rooms stack atop one another) until he had the crew trapped on the very top to make their last stand.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space alien monster

It's perhaps not as good as the film that inspired it (The Thing From Another World) nor as good as the film it inspired (Alien) but for anyone who enjoys 50s b-movies of this nature It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a pretty awesome film. 

3.5/5 stars

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