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It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) - Blu-ray Review

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It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

A classic black-and-white film from the deluge of science fiction movies produced during the late 1950s finally finds its way onto blu-ray.  Independently produced, It! The Terror From Beyond Space remains an effective rubber-suited monster movie, proving that practical effects are (and always will be) so much more appreciated over in-the-moment CGI.  This movie – and I am speaking rather specifically here – is the film that launched John Carpenter and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon's Dark Star which, ultimately, resulted in Ridley Scott’s Alien.  And you know what?  Clocking in at a crisp 69 minutes without an ounce of fat on it, the director Edward L. Cahn’s B-movie is still a certifiable blast from the past.

Written by sci-fi legend Jerome Bixby (writer of classic episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek) and starring Marshall Thompson, It! The Terror From Beyond Space tells the story of a rescue mission on Mars that goes horribly wrong when an unexpected vampire-like alien becomes a stowaway.  The rescue mission, led by actor Kim Spaulding, lands on Mars in 1973 to pick up and the last remaining member of the first landing on Mars.  He is suspected of having killed the rest of his team.  Once aboard, interrogations prove counter-productive as Thompson sticks to his story that he did not do a damn thing to any of his crewmembers.  It was a monster.  And the bloodsucking beast is onboard the return flight home.   

So, .45 calibre bullets fired inside a nuclear-powered space rocket won’t stop it.  Neither does a bazooka fired at point blank range.  Hand grenades and gas grenades don’t work either.  The group – who are getting picked off one by one – must put aside their differences and work together if they are to put an end to the creature that stalks them and survive the return trip home. 

The infamous creature – designed by Paul Blaisdell – is a mix of modeling and bi-pedal creature designs that remains creepy, especially for those of a younger age, even if the arms and feet flop about.  Blaisdell, a former artist for science fiction magazines of the era, was handpicked by Roger Corman to design the creatures for Corman’s low-budget film The Beast with a Million Eyes.  Blaisdell, who was so successful with Corman, was able to make a career out of creature designs and went on to work on several B-movie science fiction flicks of the era. 

His work here, involving making Ray "Crash" Corrigan look like a bloodsucking Martian from some aquatic planet in a far-off galaxy, is notable primarily because Corrigan refused to get “fitted” for the design in Blaisdell’s workshop.  Without proper measurements, the suit never actually fit him.  Blaisdell, doing last minute touches right before the cameras rolled, had to think on his feet and ended up making his exposed chin “read” as a tongue.  The end result, especially in black and white, is futuristic freakiness that is more than a little unnerving. 

The problem with the flick is simply that there are too many characters populating the screen.  There’s a quasi love triangle that is at-once regrettable (and very amusing) and a lot of extra characters on the return voyage that do nothing or simply get picked off early as the ship rockets its way back to Earth.  But, really, those are minor quibbles alluding to a lack of character development, which, honestly, comes with the B-movie territory of the late 1950s.  It’s illogical, full of narrative gaps, and is a whole lot of nonsensical fun involving what little we knew about space at the time.

It’s been said before but, if you really want to see where it all begins, then you better scoop up Olive Films’ release of It! The Terror From Beyond Space.  You won’t regret this quintessential tale of life and death on Mars.

 

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime:
69 mins
Director
: Edward L. Cahn
Writer:
Jerome Bixby
Cast:
Marshall Thompson, Shirley Patterson, Kim Spalding
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
It Breathes. It Hunts. It Kills!
Memorable Movie Quote: "There's only one kind of a monster that uses bullets."
Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 19, 2015
Synopsis: The first manned expedition to Mars is decimated by an unknown life form...which stows away on the rescue ship.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 19, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Since its arrival on DVD, as part of MGM’s Midnite Movies line in 2001, It! The Terror From Beyond Space has suffered from a rather dull full-frame conversion.  Olive Films, who continue to subvert the norm with their blu-ray releases, takes MGM’s HD master and presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The detailed 1080p image is beyond crisp, suggesting details in black-and-white never thought possible.  Black levels run deep and whites never dominate; there is an even grey throughout. lFilm grain is solid, too.  No pops, crackles, or hisses. The DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track is strong with absolutely no distortion.  Simply put, It! The Terror From Beyond Space has never looked or sounded better.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

A theatrical trailer, complete with subliminal messages, is the lone supplemental item for this release.

  • Theatrical Trailer

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