Monday, May 25, 2015

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) 

Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 69 Minutes 
Audio: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Video: HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Cast: Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith, Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer, Paul Langton, Robert Rice, Shirley Patterson, Kim Spalding, Ray Corrigan

Synopsis: 
Following a rescue mission to Mars, the survivor of a space expedition claims that his crew was hunted down and killed by an alien creature. Skeptical, and believing that the survivor may have killed the crew in order to survive, the rescue captain dismisses the explanation only to find that a Martian creature has stowed away on the spacecraft and begins to hunt the human hosts. It! The Terror From Beyond Space stars Marshall Thompson (The Clock) as Col. Carruthers, Shirley Patterson (The Land Unknown) as Ann Anderson, Kim Spalding (The Gunfighter) as Col. Van Heusen and Ray Corrigan (New Frontier) as “It”.

I love these low budget science fiction movies from the 1950's, especially when there is a man-in-a-suit styled creature roaming around and sucking the life force from our astronauts, which is what we have happening here, while not on par with Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires (1965), the films do share something in common, both were enormous inspiration on Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) shares a vaguely similar story line of an alien creature stowing away on a ship headed for Earth, while Mario Bava's film offer an equally familiar story and a lot of aesthetic choices that Scott and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon seem to have copped for their own seminal science fiction film. So, mentioning Alien and Planet of the Vampires may have your expectations slightly inflated, but come back down to earth because this one is neither of those film, not even close, so grab some tortilla chips because this one is total cheese. 


A rescue mission is bound for the planet Mars in the very futuristic year of 1973, the year was born! The first mission met with disaster having crash landed on the surface of the Red Planet, upon arriving they discover that the sole survivor is Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), whom the crew suspect may have killed the remaining survivors for their food and water rations, which he denies. He places the blame on a monstrous creature he says attacked the crew, but his story is met with skepticism, and the fact that one of the victims is found with a bullet hole on their skull doesn't help his case either.

The crew are in for a surprise all their own, because it turns out that the Colonel was telling the damn truth, but that bullet hole in the skull is never explained. As the rescue mission leave Mars for the six-month return trip to Earth the monstrous creature boards the ship and hides away away in the air ducts, where it remains unnoticed until it starts to kill off the crew members one by one, draining each of the victims of their precious bodily fluids leaving behind a seriously dehydrated corpse. 

The beast is humanoid and somewhat reptilian in nature, scaly skin and three rough clawed fingers. Quite beast, but for the most part the creature is caught only in shadowy glimpses, which was probably a smart move on the part of the filmmakers because it can look awfully cheap, but then again this was the 50's and by standards of the era probably not that awful looking.

What transpires is the crew must fend of the creature which is after their fluids, and the monster  turns out to be damn near impossible to kill. Bullets, grenades and massive amounts of radiation seem to have little effect on the beast, but as is so often the case it turns out that something quite simple can undo the creature. I laughed when I thought about the fact that this is a science fiction film, the human race have the ability to travel to and from the planets throughout our solar system but our weapons still consist of carbine rifles and grenades straight out of World War 2, just thought that was funny, no space-age ray guns in this one. 

As a kid I would eat these cheap sci-fi movies up with a spoon when they aired on TV during weekends afternoons and I still love 'em, while they may not have aged very I love 'em, there's just something about those corny futuristic sets and cheesy space ships I cannot get enough of, and they still have their charm and thirty-years of youthful nostalgia to keep me coming back. 

Audio/Video: 
It! The Terror from Beyond Space arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films with a pleasing transfer sourced from a clean print with very few flaws to speak of. The black and white cinematography looks nice with good contrast and a few moments of nicely resolved fine detail. 

The info on the disc case incorrectly lists the aspect ratio as full frame (1.37:1), the correct aspect ratio featured on the disc is widescreen (1.85:1).  

The English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio comes through with very few issues, the low-budget production has a limited sound design but for fans of schlocky sci-fi there's enough futuristic sound effects and overly-dramatic score to bring a smile to your face.

The only extra on the disc is a trailer for the film that's in pretty poor shape. Olive Films tend to go the bare bones route these days, and I think a commentary would have been a nice value-added feature. At least offer something for the fans of the movie who maybe wouldn't upgrade to Blu-ray unless you sweeten the deal with at least a cursory bonus features. 

It!  The Terror from Beyond Space is a fun slice of '50s science fiction with a man-in-a-rubber-suit monster, the sort of film that absolutely appeals to my monster movie matinee nostalgia, if you love cheesy sci-fi and creature features I think you would enjoy It! 2.5/5

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