Wednesday, 2 April 2008

It: The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

It: The Terror from Beyond Space is rather like a 1958 version of Ridley Scott’s Alien. It’s the same basic plot idea. The first spaceship to land on Mars has its crew mysteriously killed. A rescue ship takes off the sole survivor, but they’ve unwittingly taken on another, unwelcome, passenger as well. The problem with It: The Terror from Beyond Space is not the lack of expensive special effects, or the acting (although it has to be said that the acting is pretty uninspiring). The problem is the monster. Even by 1958 standards this is one lame monster. Of course there are things you can do in that situation – you can try to show the monster as little as possible, or try to shoot the monster in dim light, or obscured by smoke or shadows, or avoid close-ups of the monster. None of these techniques occurred to the makes of this film, so we have a very lame man-in-a-rubber-suit monster and we get to see him up close so we can see that he’s a man in a rubber suit. Aside from that the movie is a fairly standard 1950s sci-fi horror flick which actually makes some effort to get at least some of the science right. They actually understand about air-locks and vacuums. I do wonder, though, whether it really would be advisable to fire a bazooka inside a spacecraft. Not to mention throwing hand grenades (this is a peaceful scientific mission so naturally our astronauts are armed to the teeth).
There’s not a huge amount of suspense – the appearance of the monster comes as no surprise whatsoever. The movie does move along at a rapid pace, though. It’s a movie that can be a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood, and if you really like 1950s American sci-fi horror.

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