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It! The Terror from Beyond Space

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) starring Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith, Kim Spalding

Synopsis of It! The Terror from Beyond Space

When his crew is brutally murdered on a Mars expedition, Commander Carruthers becomes the prime suspect. Taken into custody and facing a court-martial back on Earth, he discovers that the real killer is a grotesque monster.  “It” has stowed aboard the earthbound ship. But the indestructible creature had already begun a harrowing in-flight rampage, knocking off the members of the crew, one by one. Now, as the spaceship heads home toward a panic-stricken Earth, the remaining crew must find some way to stop the unstoppable…”It! The Terror from Beyond Space”

Review of It! The Terror from Beyond Space

In many ways, It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a precursor to Alien.  An unstoppable creature is going through an isolated spaceship, killing the crew one at a time.  And the crew is fighting back, not in a panic, but using logic and science as they can.  But first …

The movie begins in the “distant future” of 1973, where the first manned expedition to Mars has ended in catastrophe.  A second ship is sent to rescue the survivor — who is believed to have murdered the other crew members.  On the way back to his court martial and likely execution, Colonel Edward Carruthers tells his story to the others, how a Martian killed the crew.  Most of them don’t believe him.  But some creature has hidden aboard.  And the crew members of the second ship start disappearing …

In all, It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a very enjoyable movie.  It’s easy enough to poke fun at various things, from the look of the spaceships, the people smoking aboard ship, etc.  But when you bear in mind that this was made in 1958, it’s had to fault the filmmakers for not being psychic.

As with any good story, it’s about interesting characters and the interactions between them.  And the acting is good, and the characters are people that the audience cares about.  The actual monster is clearly a man in a rubber suit, but even he is intriguing to watch.  The vicious murders are only shown in the silhouettes of the people involved.  As Hitchcock proved, the human imagination is worse than anything that can be shown on the screen.

Cast of characters in It! The Terror from Beyond Space

  • Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson – DaktariFiend without a Face).  The only survivor of the first expedition, who expects to be executed after his court martial.  Until It! starts its’ killing spree again.
  • Shawn Smith (Shirley Patterson – The Land UnknownWorld Without End).  The only crew member who initially believes that Carruthers may be telling the truth. Later, a potential love interest for Carruthers.
  • Col. Van Heusen (Kim SpaldingThree Desperate MenA Man Alone).  Commander of the rescue mission, who disbelieves and distrusts Carruthers.  Until It! starts murdering his crew. Later, he gets clawed by the creature, and his infection can’t be controlled …
  • Eric Royce (Dabbs Greer, House of WaxInvasion of the Body Snatchers).  Member of the crew, who hypothesizes on the origin of the creature.
  • Mary Royce (Ann Doran, National VelvetPenny Serenade).  Eric’s spouse.
  • Lt. James Calder (Paul Langton, The Incredible Shrinking ManInvisible Invaders). He accompanies Carruthers in a desperate attempt to electrocute the creature.  The attempt fails, and Calder is trapped, kept safe by only an acetylene torch.  With a limited fuel supply …
  • Joe Kienholz (Thom CarneyCell 2455 Death Row).  The creature’s first victim, drained of all moisture by it.
  • Gino Finelli (Richard Hervey).  It!’s second victim, left barely alive … at first.
  • Bob Finellie (Richard BenedictOcean’s Eleven (1960)).  Gino’s brother, who is unable to save him from the creature … and then consumed by guilt.
  • It! (Ray “Crash” Corrigan, Undersea KingdomArizona Stage Coach).  The rampaging, merciless creature.  Despite an unmoving mask for a face, “Crash” Corrigan does a good job of giving it an actual sense of menace.

Editorial review of It! The Terror from Beyond Space, courtesy of Amazon.com

It! The Terror from Beyond Space can be enjoyed on two levels. On the one hand, science fiction vet Jay Bixby (story credit for Fantastic Voyage, episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone) has penned a tight screenplay that clocks in at less than 70 minutes. In the action you’ll see precursors to Alien and other modern science fiction classics. On the other hand, you’ve got the pleasures of The Future As Envisioned in 1958 (Hey look! Female crew members! Wait a minute, they’re serving the men coffee…) and, of course, a rubber-suited space monster.

A rescue ship picks up Colonel Carruthers, sole survivor of an expedition to Mars. Carruthers is accused of killing his crew, but he maintains that they were picked off by a mysterious monster. Guess who’s right? Keep an eye out for charming details such as analog instrument dials, crew members smoking in flight, and mysteriously large amounts of loose paper flying around the ship. –Ali Davis