ALIEN Ancestor: IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (United Artists 1958)

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Col. Edward Carruthers is the sole survivor of man’s first Mars expedition, the remainder of the crew brutally slaughtered. A second ship is sent to return Carruthers to Earth to be court-martialed for the murders. Unbeknownst to the crew, a bloodthirsty space alien has infiltrated their ship. When members of the crew begin to get picked off, they realize Carruthers is telling the truth. Now they’re trapped in space with the creature and nowhere to run. Bullets can’t stop IT! Grenades can’t stop IT! Gas can’t stop IT! Can anything stop IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE?

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Grab yourselves some popcorn, Raisonettes, and a soft drink for this one, the quintessential 50s Sci-Fi Drive-In movie. It’s a well done B picture that doesn’t waste any time getting into the action, and probably the best film director Edward L. Cahn (Invisible Invaders) ever did. The cast is solid but relatively unknown except for star Marshall Thompson (TV’s DAKTARI) and character actor Dabbs Greer. The screenplay by Jerome Bixby may seem familiar, as it’s said to have been the “inspiration” for the 1979 hit ALIEN. Bixby was mainly a sci-fi short story writer whose “It’s A Good Life” was adapted into the classic TWILIGHT ZONE episode starring Billy (LOST IN SPACE) Mumy. He also wrote the story for the film FANTASTIC VOYAGE, and four STAR TREK episodes, including the doppleganger episode “Mirror, Mirror”. Special mention should be made to Oscar nominated art director William Glasgow (HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE) for his contribution to this movie.

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IT itself was actor/stuntman Ray “Crash” Corrigan, in his last role. Corrigan starred in serials and B-Westerns like the Three Mesquiteers (with young John Wayne) and Range Busters series, but was also one of Hollywood’s greatest gorilla guys. Corrigan and his ape suit were in demand for pictures like the original TARZAN THE APE MAN, serial FLASH GORDON, THE APE (with Boris Karloff), Universal’s CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN, and that all-time clunker Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla. Crash also owned a ranch called Corriganville which was used in many B-Westerns of the era.

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The alien creature was designed by the one-and-only Paul Blaisdell, responsible for many of those 50s “rubber suited” monsters we all know and love. Blaisdell worked extensively with Roger Corman on B-movies like THE BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES, THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, THE SHE CREATURE, NOT OF THIS EARTH, and INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN. He occasionally played the monsters himself, and his creations are some of the most iconic in sci-fi filmdom:

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IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE is a fun movie for sci-fi fans, and while no classic, is suspenseful enough to hold your interest. It’s not big on science, but is fantastic fiction that’s still enjoyable to watch today, a fine example of low-budget, low-tech moviemaking magic.

Moon Madness: INVISIBLE INVADERS (1959)

invade1 Edward L. Cahn (1899-1963) was one of those unsung Hollywood minions who had long careers. Beginning as an editor in the waning days of the silent era, Cahn steadily worked his way up to director, helming 26 of MGM’s later Our Gang shorts. Moving from the majors to the seedy world of low-budget filmmaking, Cahn’s feature film output found him at poverty stricken studios like PRC and for a number of years American International Pictures. He worked mainly in the science-fiction realm, but labored on everything from teen delinquency pics (DRAGSTRIP GIRL) to war dramas (SUICIDE BATTALION) to westerns (FLESH AND THE SPUR) and noir (WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES). Cahn’s features were interesting. Not very good mind you, but interesting.

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