It! The Terror from Beyond Space

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It! The Terror from Beyond Space
It the terror from beyond space.jpg
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Produced by Robert Kent
Edward Small (uncredited)
Written by Jerome Bixby
Starring Marshall Thompson
Shawn Smith (Shirley Patterson)
Kim Spalding
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography Kenneth Peach
Edited by Grant Whytock
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • August 13, 1958 (1958-08-13)
Running time 68 min
Language English

It! The Terror from Beyond Space is an independently made 1958 American black and white science fiction film produced by Robert Kent, directed by Edward L. Cahn, and starring Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith (Shirley Patterson) and Kim Spalding. The film was distributed by United Artists.[1]

A rescue mission to Mars finds a sole survivor from the previous Earth expedition. The survivor, the expedition's former commander, claims his crew were hunted to death, one-by-one, by a hostile Martian life form. The rescue ship's captain doesn't believe him, thinking they were killed for their provisions so the commander could survive; he orders the commander confined to quarters after the rescue ship launches for Earth. The same hostile Martian creature, now a stowaway aboard, begins another human hunting spree, immune to crew's few weapons aboard.

Plot[edit]

The film opens with a nuclear-powered spaceship perched on the cratered surface of an alien world. A voice-over tells us the year is 1973, that the world is the planet Mars, and the spaceship has been sent to rescue the crew of a previous, ill-fated mission to the Red Planet; they have found only one survivor, Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson). He is suspected of having murdered the other nine members of his crew for their food and water rations, because he would have no way of knowing if or when he would ever be rescued. Carruthers denies this allegation and pleads his innocence, blaming the deaths on an unknown, hostile life-form encountered on Mars. He offers up the first incident: caught on the surface during a blinding Martian sandstorm, one of his crew mates was quickly plucked by something unseen from the crew's moving transport vehicle, It running fast enough to keep pace. The rest of his crew began firing their weapons without success, due to the blinding storm.

The rescue ship's commander remains unconvinced, ordering Carruthers confined to quarters and an immediate return to Earth. Unknown to the rest of the crew, and before their blast-off from Mars, a crew member has left a large external exhaust vent wide open for a prolonged period of time...

With Mars now behind them, the crew settle into their shipboard routine for the long six-month journey home. Before long things begin to go sideways: one by one, isolated crew members are attacked by a shadowy presence and dragged away, still alive, into the ship's ventilation ducts.

As the return trip progresses, the crew are at first skeptical that something has crawled aboard while they were on Mars. The body count begins to rise when they first discover the shriveled corpse of a colleague and then another near death; both have been sucked almost dry of all moisture, including bone marrow. Mars is a world with almost no water, so the crew reason that their stowaway must be the same creature that hunted and eventually killed Carruthers' shipmates.

They arm themselves with various weapons aboard, including conventional .45 caliber sidearms, but when the bullets fail to stop the creature, they try both hand grenades and gas canisters. The humanoid alien proves largely immune to their weaponry. They try to electrocute the creature, with no effect. They lure It into the spaceship's nuclear reactor room, quickly shutting and locking the heavily shielded door behind the creature, which is then exposed directly to the ship's nuclear pile. It easily crashes through the door and escapes, the intense radiation seemingly having no more effect than an old-fashioned hot foot.

As the crew numbers dwindle, the survivors retreat upward, deck-by-deck, as the creature pursues them. The alien is strong enough to eventually break through each deck's central pressure hatch. Eventually, they are trapped on the topmost deck: the spaceship's control room. In the final standoff their weapons are once again unleashed in the confined space, but It is unstoppable and begins breaking through the last floor hatch. Having noticed that the ship's oxygen consumption level is much higher than normal, likely due to the creature's larger lung capacity, Carruthers deduces that opening the command deck's large airlock to the vacuum of space, while the survivors are safely in their spacesuits, should suffocate the creature. After an explosive decompression, they see the plan works: It writhes around, growling and panting heavily for air, finally expiring, stuck halfway through the last shattered deck hatch.

Back on Earth a press conference is quickly held at the crew's base that reveals the details of what has happened aboard the rescue ship. More importantly, the project director announces that Earth may now be forced to leave the Red Planet out of all future manned planetary space exploration, "because another word for Mars is death."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was financed by Edward Small and was originally known as It! The Vampire from Beyond Space.[2]

It! was the last film by actor Ray "Crash" Corrigan. Corrigan was set to play the role of the creature, but during pre-production, he did not want to travel all the way to Topanga in western Los Angeles County where Paul Blaisdell, the film's sculptor and makeup artist, lived and operated his studio. Therefore, Blaisdell couldn't take exact measurements of Corrigan's head; consequently, there were final fit problems with the creature's head prop: "[Corrigan's]...bulbous chin stuck out through the monster's mouth, so the make-up man painted his chin to look like a tongue." [3]

Adaptations[edit]

In 1993, It! was adapted by Millennium Publications as a comics series by Mark Ellis and Dean Zachary; a further comics adaption was released by IDW in 2010.

The premise of a hostile alien creature hunting a spaceship's crew as it returns to Earth was the inspiration for screenwriter Dan O'Bannon's screenplay of Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Maçek III, J.C. (2012-11-21). "Building the Perfect Star Beast: The Antecedents of 'Alien'". PopMatters. 
  2. ^ Kristin' Seen as Challenge: Kaufman Phones Terry Moore; 'Diamonds' Polished for Laage Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Nov 1957: C11.
  3. ^ Stafford, Jeff. "It! The Terror From Beyond Space". TCM.com. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 

Additional reading[edit]

  • Strick, Philip. Science Fiction Movies. Octopus Books Limited. 1976. ISBN 0-7064-0470-X.
  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. 2009. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External links[edit]