director Edward L. Cahn
The B-side to the double feature DVD with The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), It! The Terror from Beyond Space, is another good, 1950’s sci-fi film whose foot dips into the horror/monster genre. Its most notable legacy has been its influence on writer Dan O’Bannon as one of the aspects of his legendary concept for the film Alien (1979). But along those lines, you can see other aspects of science fiction space exploration films/stories well-represented in this B-movie thriller.
It’s 1973, and a manned mission to Mars turns dark and deadly. The rescue mission that follows finds only one man alive, a man presumed to have killed all his other astronauts. His court-marshal proceedings wrap the flashback narrative, which takes place on the ship that is returning him to Earth. Only, they’ve picked up an unknown stowaway, a monster “from beyond space”.
And the monster is a vampiric killer. The story follows the death of a few crewmates and the investigation into what is going on. The monster hides out in the ship, isolated from the crew who are unable to defeat it. Ultimately, they find a means to kill it not unlike the ending of Alien.
And you know, it’s a pretty earnest and solid little movie. It’s not nearly as camp as some of the 1950’s space thrillers might be and takes itself and its characters seriously. The monster is between cool and campy, a guy in a monster suit, though actually kind of cool (you always have to rate the monster).
It’s easy to see how between this film and Planet of the Vampires (1965), O’Bannon would have developed the intrigue and notions for his later, much more sophisticated sci-fi/horror film. In fact, it’s kind of interesting to look on these movies that were influential to other creators, who saw within these more obscure and unusual movies these germs of ideas, twists of inspiration, beyond the film’s own successes or limitations.
Solid double feature, by the way.