Happy Halloween! John Ary here with the final installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews. Today, a rescue mission in space goes awry when an alien stowaway begins killing the ship’s crew.
In the year 1973, chain smoking astronauts will launch a rescue mission to Mars, to bring back the lone survivor of a failed expedition. It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a lot like Alien. We witness people on a spaceship being hunted down by an almost impossible to kill creature.
The setup for the film is pretty interesting. The astronauts that rescue the failed expedition’s lone survivor accuse him of murdering his entire crew. No one likes the guy, but the ship isn’t really equipped with a holding cell so he’s allowed to roam the ship freely with an armed escort. After the first crewmember of the rescue party is killed our murder suspect is cleared of his crimes and instantly redeemed. This seems like a missed opportunity. It’s a shame the script never played up the possibility that he could have actually killed his fellow crewmates. The evidence against him was convincing. It was never explained why one of the skulls found at the landing site had a bullet hole. Like a lot of the sci-fi films from this era, the characters are generically written as archetypes without a lick of irony. There are two women on board, so they must be the nurses. Also they serve all the men dinner. There’s a good looking guy with a square jaw, so he must be the captain. The weak characterization in the story seems like a missed opportunity the hampers the rest of the film.
The monster in the script is fairly terrifying though. Almost nothing can kill him. That’s one of the charms of the film. It throws you into this almost impossible situation and has you guessing with the astronauts. Maybe fire will hurt him? How about electricity? Throw a grenade at it. Wait... why would a space exploration mission have a box of grenades on board? Or a bazooka? Anyway, it’s a terrific scenario that was done better in films like Alien or either version of The Thing.
Another aspect that those films handled better than It! was the actual creature. The more you see of the monster, the less scary he becomes. It doesn’t help that he walks around like a middle-aged, slightly overweight man with an early case of arthritis. The suit doesn’t fit well. Apparently the head piece was too small for the actor, so they altered the jaw area and turned the actor’s chin into the monster’s tongue. It doesn’t look very good. We see way too much of the creature early on and it loses much of its scariness.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a terrific scenario for a horror film and probably served as the basis for much more famous and much more scary movies that would come later. It’s more influential than terrifying and serves better as an historical cinematic reference than a sci-fi chiller.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space is streaming on Netflix. It’s also available as a double-feature with The Monster that Challenged the World on DVD here.
Here’s a look back at the Ain’t It Scary Review installments that you might have missed this month:
The Ground Rules to the Project
#1 Son of Frankenstein
#2 Scream, Blacula, Scream!
#3 Black Sabbath
#5 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
#6 Invisible Invaders
#7 The Mummy’s Curse
#8 Lord of Illusions
#9 Night of the Demons
#10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
#11 The House of the Devil
#12 Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
#14 The Catman of Paris
#17 Werewolf of London
#18 Tales from the Hood
#19 The Keep
#20 The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
#22 Night of the Living Dead
#23 Pit and the Pendulum
#24 Tucker and Dale vs Evil
#25 The Stuff
#26 Creature from the Black Lagoon
#27 Planet of the Vampires
#29 Bloody Birthday
#30 Deep Red
Stay safe tonight and have a great Halloween! Special thanks to Merrick for his help getting these up on the site everyday.
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