Friday night at the home drive-in: It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) by #EdwardLCahn

w/#MarshallThompson #ShirleyPatterson

In the distant future – 1973 – a rescue team is sent to find out what happened to the first manned flight to Mars.

“It has to kill us or starve and we’ve got to kill it or die.”

#Horror #SciFi

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) must surely have been an influence on the makers of Alien (1979). There were others, of course. Planet of the Vampires (1965) is often talked about – and deservedly so. Shivers (1975) may have been another, less talked about inspiration. But watching It! The Terror from Beyond Space last week, all I could think about were the similarities to Dan O’Bannon’s (and Ridley Scott’s) masterpiece. 

Okay, that’s not quite ALL I could think about. I was also simply enjoying It! The Terror from Beyond Space on it’s own terms. In some ways, it’s just another fun Sci-Fi Horror film – or rather, monster movie – from 1958. A quick look back at the movies I’ve been writing about these past few months will show you that there were a lot of them. It! The Terror from Beyond Space, however, is a little different from most of them. It feels a little darker, perhaps a little more predictive of the future of Sci-Fi horror films. It’s not about a giant fruit fly or caterpillar terrorizing the citizens of a small town. It’s about a more realistic (can I say realistic?) normal sized monster that is at first invisible to the highly trained astronauts that it is preying upon.

When I say “invisible”, I mean that they don’t see it. It’s hiding in the shadows, or the sandstorm on the surface of Mars. It somehow sneaks aboard the spaceship without anyone knowing that it even exists. This is, in my opinion, far more terrifying than any oversized insect might be. It’s the enemy that you don’t know is there until it’s suddenly attacking you. 

The other thing that made watching It! The Terror from Beyond Space a particularly special delight for me was seeing Shirley Patterson playing Ann Anderson, one of the crew members. I wrote about her a while back because I was shocked to discover that she was born in my hometown, Winnipeg. 

Shirley Patterson in The Land Unknown (1957)

Shirley Patterson in The Land Unknown (1957)

She’s credited as Shawn Smith in this movie (and most of everything else she made after 1950). She appeared in over 50 movies and TV shows, and had a big part in The Land Unknown (1957), which she made just before this movie. A serious skiing accident in 1958 left her unable to work for a couple of years, and she wound up retiring. It’s too bad, because she had all the makings of a great B-movie star.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic that may have had some part in inspiring a future masterpiece (or two). If you haven’t see it, you should. It would be a welcome addition to any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.