RogerBW's Blog

It! The Terror From Beyond Space 19 December 2021

1958 science fiction, dir. Edward L. Cahn, Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith: IMDb / allmovie. The last survivor of the first Mars expedition is being brought back to face a court-martial for killing all the others. But his mad story of a monster might just be true…

Well, considering that we see parts of the monster in the first few shots, we are never in doubt about what's really going on. Which is a shame, really; it would have been interesting to leave the audience in some doubt as to whether this really was a murderer with an unconvincing story or an actual case of alien life, just as the crew of the second ship takes some time to come round to the latter idea. But no, this is Ed Cahn (who'd also made The She-Creature, 1956), making a straightforward film about a bulletproof monster in a spaceship.

And this is the 1950s: diversity in the crew is shown by two of them being Italian-Americans ("bruddas", of course) and two of them being women. (One of them is the doctor, because soft sciences are allowable for women; the other appears to be there to make the coffee.)

And yet… well, it helps a lot that while this is an unambitious B-movie, it's one made on Universal's idea of a B-movie budget rather than say AIP's. The film takes place almost entirely inside the ship, and the sets are consistent with the external shape, a classic tail-balancing von Braun design – so moving from one to another means using the hatches in floor and ceiling. ("But the engine's turned off most of the time!" That's OK, they have artificial gravity.) Paul Blaisdell made the monster… all right, so Ray "Crash" Corrigan didn't want to travel out to Topanga for a fitting, and the bulging tongue visible in the monster's mouth is actually Corrigan's chin. The actors are pretty good at this stuff; Ann Doran in particular had hundreds of film credits mostly in thankless secondary parts, making her practically the female John Carradine.

Mostly of course this is an example of an idea with vastly more potential than ended up on the screen… which was probably why Dan O'Bannon had it in mind when he was working on his own second SF script, after Dark Star, in the wake of Star Wars making it big…

As usual if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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