Director: Edward L. Cahn
Writer: Jerome Bixby
Cast: Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith, Kim Spalding, Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer, Paul Langton, Robert Bice, Richard Benedict, Richard Hervey, Thom Carney, and Ray Corrigan
Composers: Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter
Release Date: 8/13/1958
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
In the year 1973, a spaceship is sent to rescue Colonel Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson)—sole survivor of a doomed Mars expedition. Accused of murdering his crew, Col. Carruthers explains that a Martian vampire—now secretly aboard the rocket ship Challenge 142—is responsible for the crimes in question.
The primary inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Alien, It! The Terror from Beyond Space should be commended for its claustrophobic atmosphere. Additionally compelling are the reactions of each main character, adding an air of menace to the (admittedly rather cheap-looking) monster who stalks and preys upon the unsuspecting crew members of the Challenge 142.
By exposing only small glimpses of the creature prior to the climactic scene, It! The Terror from Beyond Space relies upon the power of suggestion while generating suspense—an aspect that, when accompanied by the ominous narration of Col. Carruthers, will surely appeal to fans of psychological horror.
Also praiseworthy is the character development that occurs throughout this offering, which, despite its running time of only 69 minutes, encourages the viewer to root for the survival of each protagonist—especially Col. Carruthers, whose apparent innocence should allow the audience to immediately sympathize with his predicament.
Though initially confined to the shadows, the title monster (played by an actor wearing a lousy rubber suit) is revealed entirely during the second half of this film, inviting ridicule from those of a critical mindset.
Leaving the horrific fates of certain Challenge 142 crew members to the imagination, It! The Terror from Beyond Space manages to heighten apprehension without resorting to graphic imagery—a testament to the fact that fear-building tropes of a subtle variety (e.g. bloodcurdling screams and expressions of panic from potential victims) often prove just as effective as, if not more so than, copious gore and violence in a sci-fi/horror setting.
An atmospheric B-grade monster movie, It! The Terror from Beyond Space should be requisite viewing for science fiction buffs, horror enthusiasts, and fans of the creature feature genre. There are times, however, when poor production values hamper an otherwise creepy, solid premise by Jerome Bixby—known for “It’s a Good Life” from The Twilight Zone.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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