1950s sci-fi ran the gamut from outer space sagas to monstrous aliens and radioactively formed creatures capable of destroying all in their paths. Edward L. Cahn’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space combines the outer space and alien terror plots into a B-movie programmer of not much distinction. (Ridley Scott would decades later milk far more out of the scenario with his masterful Alien.) Competently made on an obviously low budget with a host of familiar faces from television and minor movie roles, It! doesn’t even offer the campy fun of something awful like The Giant Claw, but rather it goes through its predictable paces barely running a bit over an hour.
Distributed By: Olive
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 9 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/19/2015
When the first manned landing on Mars in 1973 ends in death under mysterious circumstances for nine of the ten astronauts aboard, a rescue ship lands and takes the sole survivor Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson) into custody on suspicion of murder. He claims a Martian monster somehow managed to kill the landing party, but with no evidence to prove his assertions, no one believes him. On the four-month journey back to Earth, crew members begin to go missing before leader Col. Van Heusen (Kim Spalding) and his remaining staff figure out the Martian alien (Ray Corrigan) which resembles a sharp-toothed ape has stowed away on the ship and is systematically killing men to live off of their bodily fluids and bone marrow. Bullets, gas, and electricity have no effect on the creature, and before any more of them are killed, the crew must think of something to save themselves before getting back to Earth.
The Production Rating: 2/5
Jerome Bixby’s screenplay isn’t lacking for suspenseful potential, but many of the possibilities for thrills and terror are thwarted by substandard special effects and some naïve notions about space travel. The spaceship is lavish in its size and scope (many levels deep and very wide to accommodate the size of its crew), but the members think nothing of firing off many rounds of ammunition inside the hull, setting off a wreath of grenades, and opening the door to an atomic generator without fear of contamination to the humans in the room. When a couple of the crew go outside the ship on a rescue mission to gain outside access to another level, the production doesn’t bother with wire work to simulate a lack of gravity; director Edward L. Cahn simply tips the camera on its side and shoots the men walking upright down the side of the ship in the later style of TV’s Batman. The first real look at the monster comes some twenty-five minutes into the movie, and it’s a disappointing sharp-fanged mask they’ve given their creature without any expression or generating any sense of dread. The movie just never seems to ratchet up the do-or-die aspect of their predicament so that the audience would be on the edges of their seats with suspense, and the solution finally achieved to thwart their adversary doesn’t really make much sense at all.
Two TV veterans give the best performances: Marshall Thompson as the man under suspicion of murder and Dabbs Greer, one of the scientists on board the ship who’s far more open-minded about Carruthers’ guilt or innocence than his commander, Col. Heusen. Kim Spalding underplays the colonel for most of the film but makes a series of bone-headed moves later in the movie that show him to be ill-equipped to be running the ship, never even restrained by the other members of his crew whom he could have killed with his recklessness. Shawn Smith (later billed as Shirley Patterson) is the uninteresting love interest for Heusen and Carruthers while Ann Doran as the ship’s doctor doesn’t get nearly enough opportunities to show what she can do. Richard Benedict as one of the crew whose brother is an early casualty shows some emotional peaks early and then rather fades into the background.
The film’s theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio is faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. (The liner notes claim a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, but that’s only used for the enclosed trailer.) At its best, sharpness is excellent, but there are several scenes which seem to have been taken from earlier generations proving to be soft and free of detail. Grayscale is quite impressive with deep blacks and clean whites, and contrast has been consistently maintained. However, there are dust specks here and there, once in a while heavy but most of the time not present. The movie has been divided into 9 chapters.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is typical of a low-budget film of this era. Dialogue, music, and sound effects have been blended skillfully without one overpowering the others. Age-related anomalies like hiss and crackle are not present making the aural experience much better than one might have expected.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Theatrical Trailer (1:09, HD)
Special Features Rating: 1/5
Not nearly as much fun as such 1950s era alien-focused classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It! The Terror from Beyond Space will likely only satisfy collectors of second tier sci-fi titles of that era. The Blu-ray release certainly offers the film its greatest chance to shine.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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