IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958)
Article #1194 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-21-2004
Posting Date: 11-18-2004
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Featuring Marshall Thompson, Shirly Patterson, Kim Spalding
A rescue mission to the planet Mars picks up the sole survivor of the first expedition, and (unbeknownst to them) a very hungry resident of the planet.
This movie is often cited as the source of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, though I tend to consider that coincidence; the idea of a monster loose aboard a spaceship isn’t so uniquely unusual that I find it quite plausible that two different writers could come up with the idea independently. ALIEN is obviously the better movie; the acting and character development are a vast improvement, the dialogue is crisper and less labored, and the monster is something far more complex than a man in a rubber suit. Nonetheless, this movie can lay claim to one thing that ALIEN can’t; it remains the sole movie that I have ever seen that actually scared me so badly I couldn’t sleep that night, and that’s no mean feat. Watching it again many years later, I still find it fairly effective; the scene where the first body is discovered stuffed up a duct is memorable, as is the condition of the bodies after It has had its way with them. It has its flaws, I’ll admit; for one thing, I don’t think it’s particularly smart to have storage areas where nothing is tied down, nor would I recommend that crew members shoot off firearms inside the rocket. However, I will never forget the moments when the movie gave me the heebie-jeebies; seeing the monster dragging around one of the dead bodies, watching the man with the broken leg desperately trying to fend the creature off with an acetylene torch, and (for me, this was the clincher) watching the creature pound his way through the hatches that separated the various levels of the ship. Knowing that the monster was capable of doing this was what convinced me that there was literally no place to run. At any rate, if we were all allowed one movie from our childhood to remain free from the more mature criticism of our adult minds, this would be the one I would pick.