Man has reached Mars, but a beast is on the loose in IT! The Terror from Beyond Space. All of the hallmarks of a classic low-budget sci-fi feature, the film has a great tense energy, a fun titular monster, and a lean and mean runtime. Kino Lorber Studio Classics gives this classic sci-fi creature feature a second life on Blu-ray with an excellent new transfer, great audio, and plenty of excellent audio commentaries. Recommended
Some classics live eternal as singular unrepeatable cinematic events. Others get remade, remade, and then remade again! For Edward L. Cahn’s IT! The Terror from Beyond Space, the film has an overly familiar story, structure, and feel to Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World. But then so does The Man from Planet X, Planet of the Vampires, Alien, and so forth. The story of a group of travelers facing an intergalactic menace isn’t exactly new, and even screenwriter Jerome Bixby freely admitted to ripping off The Thing From Another World, but the film is a swiftly paced monster show with a solid cast and a heck of a monster played by Ray “Crash” Corrigan.
Our plot for this particular spin on a familiar story sees man has landed on Mars - but the mission didn’t go to plan. Upon arrival, the ship broke up at landing stranding the crew. But when the rescue team arrives, they discover the lone survivor Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson). According to Carruthers, the rest of the crew died at the hands of a mysterious creature. The rescue team and the authorities on Earth disbelieve the claim and aim to bring the officer back for court-martial. Only Carruthers really isn’t the only living being making the return trip home from Mars...
At a breezy 70-minutes, IT! The Terror from Beyond Space moves fast and easily. Some quick narration sets up the plot and characters and then it’s off to the races. There’s a brief amount of character tension between Carruthers and the rescue crew doubting his story, but that’s all mitigated mere minutes into the film. Between the title and the poster art, the audience is well ahead of the game so there’s no need for any plot mystery. You can hear the audience yelling “Let’s get to the monster!” Starting from the lower cargo hold, the creature works its way up every deck of the ship dispatching crewmen giving the survivors precious little time to find a way to kill it.
While the main cast is great, I have to single out our main man monster performer Ray Corrigan. From sci-fi serials to westerns, Corrigan has always been a fun performer. Most of the time the natural athlete was stuck in a gorilla suit swinging uncredited from tree to tree in a variety of beast and jungle films. At least as this Martian monster, Corrigan got to stand fully upright! While we may see too much of the suit for it to be completely terrifying - especially when he visibly has to adjust the mask - Corrigan makes an imposing monster.
Something I was aware of but never really paid much attention to is the weird fandom split between fans of this film and Alien decrying one another over essentially telling the same story. It's impossible to miss the similarities. This movie even has the creature attacking the crew from inside comically huge air vents! Given all of the great films I listed at the outset of this review, my call is there’s plenty of room for everyone to have a favorite – or several! Like Alien I saw this film when I was very little and loved it. But then I also love and enjoy the other films mentioned too. I even have a soft spot for 1985’s Creature and more recently 2017’s Life. Pick one, pick ‘em all, they’re all fun - but don't forget to give this one a run too. IT! The Terror from Beyond Space is a great piece of classic science fiction monster mania.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
It! The Terror From Beyond Space attacks Blu-ray again thanks to a new special edition release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Pressed on a Region A BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with reversible insert art as well as a slipcover with its own unique artwork. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options.
Reportedly sourced from a new 2K scan of the 35mm fine grain master, IT! The Terror from Beyond Space reemerges on Blu-ray with a generally impressive 1.85:1 1080p transfer. Not perfect mind you, there are still some soft shots that can look a bit out of place and some lingering speckling holds on, but it’s overall a very good-looking release. Details are generally strong allowing you to appreciate facial features, the space uniforms, and our big bad beastie from Mars. Visual effects like the opening shot on Mars or later when the crew opens an airlock, the footage is notably rougher looking. The image’s black and white greyscale is pretty good too, blacks aren’t quite deep true inky black but they get close. Shadows are managed well and there is a nice sense of three-dimensional depth. Perhaps not a night-and-day improvement over Olive’s release from years past but it’s a good-looking disc just the same.
On the audio front, we have what sounds to me like the same DTS-HD MA 2.0 track from before. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. The dialog is clean and clear without issues. The growls and howls of the creature still resonate with that deep guttural tone. The music cues are right on point and the sound effects for all of the spaceship shenanigans add plenty of mood and atmosphere to the flick. There’s plenty of sci-fi gadgetry to fill the soundscape complete with the creature smashing its way through metal doors and hatches.
While the video transfer may be the draw to upgrade for some, the impressive collection of bonus features is well worth the attention. At the top of the heap are three excellent audio commentaries. One from historian Craig Beam, one from historian/screenwriter Gary Gerani (they’re both great) but the highlight is the Tom Weaver, Bob Burns, Larry Blamier (and son?), and David Schecter commentary. Weaver holds point as primary speaker and while he can sound a bit scripted, he’s a wealth of info about the film. The other participants aren’t recorded with him live but instead weave in and out to expand on a point Weaver is making and it’s a pretty good track. After those great tracks there’s the very cool tidbITs featurette to explore that takes a deep dive into sci-fi monster movies.
IT! The Terror from Beyond Space is a fun little classic-era sci-fi fright flick. The film is so quick and to the point that the creature makes its first shadowy appearance within five minutes. The cast sells the action and terror working hard to bolster the familiar material. It’s a fun story that’s been told many times by better and worse films for decades. Kino Lorber Studio Classics gives the film a second life on Blu-ray complete with a respectable A/V presentation and some very good bonus features. Recommended