Mars is Death

Chalk it up to space-faring naivety of the late ‘50s or Cold War paranoia, but the crew aboard It! The Terror from Beyond Space’s Mars-landing rocket brought guns on board. Not just guns, but grenades as well. Then, gas grenades. Finally, a bazooka too, just in case. Firing any of those inside seems like a tragically awful idea.

By 1958, science probably knew better, but science doesn’t necessarily apply when a blood-drinking Martian is wiping out the crew; that’s fantastic enough on its own.

… it’s the critter than hampers Terror from Beyond Space

Much is made of Terror from Beyond Space’s obvious influence on Alien and others. It’s clear why, with a crew trapped aboard a rocket, helpless to defend themselves – except for the weapons. What Terror from Beyond Space lacks in anti-corporate messaging it makes up for with a firm hand in shared patriotism, with the crew working and acting in a military fashion all for the common good. The guns only add to the militarism.

There’s an interesting prequel possibility too, with crewman/star Marshall Thompson trapped on Mars for six months, his crew dead by the monster’s hands. It’s arguably a more engaging survival story, but Terror from Beyond Space only tells this in opening exposition. That said, isolation is a powerful motivator, and in doing so, forces the crew to continue retreating upward in the vertically oriented rocket, reducing their chances each time.

Inside the creature suit is Ray Corrigan, Hollywood’s premiere suit actor at the time, but unfortunately, it’s the critter than hampers Terror from Beyond Space. While often shot with careful back-lighting and even shadows, Corrigan’s mannerisms never feel alien, and the suit’s numerous unintentional folds (due to a loose fit) destroy credibility to anyone older than 10. However, anyone who saw this on release or later at the same age was undoubtedly terrified by this thing, leaving a lasting impression through cinematic trauma. That’s a pretty fun legacy.

Video

Olive released It! The Terror from Beyond Space on Blu-ray years ago. Kino’s presentation is infinitely improved. Freed from processing and edge enhancement, this new scan looks wonderful. A fair share of dings, specks, and scratches may dot the frame throughout, but otherwise, this is sensationally crisp. Facial definition stands out from improved sharpness and properly preserved grain.

Also excellent, gray scale, providing Terror from Beyond Space with depth and density. It’s consistent in this regard too, providing the needed brightness early, and later as the ship goes dark and relies on shadows, the black levels work miracles.

Audio

Even for 1958, this DTS-HD mix is on the puffier side. Dialog has a hoarseness and the score muddles into an imprecise mid-range. It’s clean at least, without much in the way of static or popping. Luckily, Terror from Beyond Space is all audible.

Extras

Audio commentaries in triplicate, beginning with the always great Tom Weaver, joined by Bob Burns, Larry Blamire, and David Schecter. Historian Craig Beam earns a solo track, as does fellow historian Gary Gerani. Beam adds additional thoughts in a bonus featurette. Kino also includes the trailer (plus a bevy of other trailers too).

It! The Terror from Beyond Space
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Setting up a screenplay formula that was relevant for decades to follow, It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a wonderful piece of pre-space travel nostalgia.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 28 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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