Saturday, 6 August 2016

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)

“Classic SF Horror That Inspired ALIEN and So Much More”

Edward L Cahn’s classic, claustrophobic, alien-on-the-loose horror gets a UK DVD and Blu-ray release from 101 Films.
Col Ed Carruthers (Marshall Thompson) and his crew have travelled to Mars. Now only Ed is left. A second ship is despatched to pick him up and bring him back so he can go on trial for killing all his crew members. Ed claims he’s innocent, and it soon becomes apparent what actually killed his chums.

Someone leaves one of the spaceship doors open and a monster gets on board. The ship takes off. The monster starts eating people (well, draining them of “all edible fluid”). It’s only a tiny rocket ship, and soon the monster has chased them into the attic (if this were a haunted house, which it is, only worse, because in space no-one can hear you...etc etc). 

Will anyone survive? Did the ending of this possibly inspire the ending of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN as much as it inspired the rest of his film? There’s even a scene of people eating and chatting near the beginning where you can imagine little Dan O’Bannon the future screenwriter thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the monster wasn’t just inside the spaceship, but INSIDE ONE OF THE CREW?’

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE looks horribly dated now, but at the time it must have been a cracker, head and shoulders above contemporary SF fare being offered by AIP, like THE BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES. Edward L Cahn gets some things absolutely right. That little model ship flying through space that we keep cutting back to might look a bit simplistic now, but it’s a great way of reminding us just how isolated the crew is. 

The sense of claustrophobia is increased by clever use of light and shadow, especially in the scenes with the monster - is this the first SF Horror Noir? Inspiring 1970s DR WHO in general (and the Robert Holmes story The Ark in Space in particular) we tend to see only a foot, a claw, or a silhouette. Mind you, when we do get to see him in all his toothy, wobbly-fingered glory he’s actually a cracking monster. I’d be scared if that was after me even now. 

While the acting is nothing special, everything else here definitely is, including some great monster movie music from the composing team of Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter. Watching this, it’s not difficult to see why IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE has been so influential to both TV and film. 101’s Blu-ray transfer is pretty good on the whole. Occasionally it’s a little blurry, and I’d recommend stepping down the resolution a notch on HD TVs, otherwise the image is too bright and looks too speckly. There are no extras. 

Edward L Cahn's seminal IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE is out now on UK DVD and Blu-ray from 101 Films


  1. Have always loved this movie, John. Hunted it down in a Gateshead fleapit cinema back in the 1960's on a 'For One Day Only' double-bill - at a time when this was the only way to see films that were covered in 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' magazine. Main title music is a reworking by Sawtell and Shefter of their theme for KRONOS made a couple of years earlier.

    1. I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen back in the day, Steve! The soundtrack album for this is available on the Monstrous Movie Music label, but import costs make the package a bit prohibitively expensive for me at the moment, sadly.