Derek Winnert


This article was written on 23 Jan 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

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It! The Terror from Beyond Space *** (1958, Marshall Thompson, Shirley Patterson, Kim Spalding, Ray Corrigan) – Classic Movie Review 4923

Now where have you heard this before? A spacecraft is sent into space to discover what happened to the 10-man crew of the previous mission and returns to planet Earth with its sole survivor and a creature stowing away in the air vents and bumping off the astronauts one by one. Yes, the movie is a strong influence on and inspiration for Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay for Alien (1979), along with Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and The Quatermass Xperiment (1955).

Director Edward L Cahn’s famous cheapo 1958 sci-fi monster movie is let down by its Z-grade sets and special effects, as well as by some wooden acting. But it is still quite good chiller entertainment, and it is even occasionally creepy, with a good monster in Ray ‘Crash’ Corrigan.

It was Corrigan’s last film as the blood-drinking Martian creature ‘It’ who has crawled aboard while the ship was on Mars and can tear metal with his claws. And it turns out to be immune to bullets, both hand grenades and gas grenades, as well as electrocution.

[Spoiler alert] In consequence, the first crewmen to die are Thom Carney as Joe Kienholz and Richard Hervey as Gino Finelli. But ‘It’ has reckoned without the heroic Commander Colonel Van Heusen (Kim Spalding) and Colonel Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), the sole survivor of the first mission. It is set in 1973.

It also stars Shawn Smith [Shirley Patterson] as Ann Anderson, Ann Doran as Mary Royce, Dabbs Greer as Eric Royce, Paul Langton as Lieutenant James Calder, Robert Bice as Major John Purdue and Richard Benedict as Bob Finelli.

This now much loved creature feature runs 68 minutes, is produced by Vogue, was released by United Artists, is written by Jerome Bixby, is shot in black and white by Kenneth Peach Sr, is produced by Robert E Kent and scored by Bert Shefter and Paul Sawtell (recycling their title score from the 1957 Kronos).

Allegedly, filming took only six days, certainly no more than 10 days, shot in the middle of January 1958.

United Artists released it as a co-feature with Curse of the Faceless Man (1958).

The monster suit and mask are created by the legendary makeup and prop artist Paul Blaisdell, who also created the flying saucer that was later re-used in the opening scene of The Outer Limits: Controlled Experiment (1964) and designed the iconic Tabanga monster for From Hell It Came (1957). He is also known for his work on The She-CreatureNot of This Earth (1957) and Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957).

Corrigan did not want to travel to Blaisdell’s studio in Topanga in western Los Angeles County. So Blaisdell was unable to measure Corrigan’s head and he said there were fit problems on set: ‘His bulbous chin stuck out through the monster’s mouth, so the make-up man painted his chin to look like a tongue.’

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 4923

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