It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

The year is the far flung future of 1973. It’s a bizarre future where people don’t have muttonchop sideburns, drive AMC Gremlins or say stuff like “you dig.” In fact, this future looks like the black and white world of the late 1950s where taking a trip into space meant smoking Lucky Strikes in the rocket, putting shiny goop in your hair and having the lady astronauts clear the dinner table and serve you coffee. (Is this a rocket ship or a Denny’s?)

Colonel Edward Carruthers is the sole survivor of the first manned expedition to Mars and if Carruthers had watched any other Martian movies that Hollywood seems intent on foisting off on us at regular intervals then he would have known that it was going to be a slightly troubled trip.

Somehow, some Martian thing managed to kill everyone except Carruthers. A rescue ship has been dispatched from Earth and since nine astronauts are lost, a scapegoat is needed. The obvious scapegoat is the Martians, but since one guy survived and would be easier to transport to Earth and parade around for the tabloids, Carruthers gets the nod.

Colonel Van Husen is in charge and is determined to get to the bottom of things. He engages in some pretty advanced interrogation techniques where he just sort of tries to taunt Carruthers into blurting out that yes he did murder nine people that were his good buddies simply because he thought he would run out of K rations in a year.

Carruthers relates to one of the babes on the rocket that they were out driving around when a sandstorm came up and suddenly people were being yanked out of jeeps and getting killed and the rest of them were shooting at the unseen attackers and Carruthers was the only one who got away. Since he’s about as hunky as you’re going to get on this spaceflight, she kind of half-believes him.

Van, fearing his supply of space pootie-tang is going to dry up like a Martian desert in July, sidles up to Carruthers and tells him that he thinks he’s full of crap and he’s got the proof to back that up!

He busts out a human skull with a bullet hole in it, but Carruthers advises it might have been an accident during the sandstorm. Whatever sniffs, Van and oh, by the way, did I mention that some damn fool left one of the airlock doors open before they took off?

Not too long into their flight, a dude named Kleinholz comes up missing. The only guy who thinks anything about that is Carruthers and he probably figures that they’ll just try to pin it on him.

Carruthers starts yelling all over the ship for him and wakes everyone up. Everyone that is except Gino. Seems that Gino is missing as well. So they go all over the ship (at least all two or three rooms of it) and discover Kleinholz.

Every bone is broken and later we’d find out that all his juices were sucked dry by whatever creature was on the loose. Gino is located in a duct as well, but is still alive. Before he can be saved, the monster slaps whoever was inside trying rescue him, upside the head leaving bloody wounds and this guy bails out, leaving Gino to die.

Since this is one of those 1950s space flights, they come armed to the teeth. The first order of business is to get the large wooden crate marked “Grenades.”

They decide to wire up about ten of them in sequence to a grate so that the next time this beast tries to sneak attack them, he’ll be blown into bite-sized Martian chunks. Naturally all this does when the monster triggers it is to make a loud boom, generate some smoke, and leave the monster shaking his head.

Everyone scurries up to the next deck and pretty much lives up there the rest of the movie, while hoping the monster doesn’t bust through the hatch and get them.

The rest of the movie plays out as a cat and mouse game between the astronauts and the Martian monster, with the humans alternately cowering, wondering what the creature will do next and coming up with schemes to kill the creature

It! The Terror From Beyond Space is very entertaining in spite of its outdated conventions and a meager budget. Yes, the set up is questionable (How would something so essential as an airlock get accidentally left open so that a monster gets into it with no one noticing? Is it believable that one astronaut would really kill his nine crewmates and if he did, why would you even attempt to bring him back to Earth?) as is the ending (Why did it take so long to come up with the most obvious solution?), but the 69 minute running time keeps things moving and doesn’t allow much time to get bogged down on those pesky details. Suspenseful and claustrophobic, it’s still one of the best of the low-budget offerings of the era.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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