It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958): Edward Cahn’s Sci-Fi Horror

Edward L. Cahn directed this independently made sci-fic horror, produced by Robert Kent, and starring Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith (Shirley Patterson), and Kim Spalding.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space
It the terror from beyond space.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The film was distributed by United Artists as double feature with Curse of the Faceless Man.

Earth’s second mission to Mars is to discover the fate of the Challenge 141 and its crew. Only a single survivor is found alive from that crashed spaceship. The survivor, the expedition’s former commander, claims his crew were killed by hostile Martian life form.

No one from the rescue ship believes him until the creature, now a stowaway, begins hunting the crew on their return trip to Earth.

The film’s premise served as inspiration for Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay for Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 film Alien.

In 1973, a nuclear-powered spaceship blasts off from Mars for Earth, bringing with it the sole survivor of the first mission, Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson). He is suspected of murdering the other crew members for their food and water rations–he had no knowledge if or when an Earth rescue mission would ever arrive.

But Carruthers denies this allegation, attributing his crew’s deaths to hostile humanoid life form on the Red Planet.

Unconvinced, Commander Col. Van Heusen makes sure that Carruthers is constantly accompanied by another crew member.

While the ship was on Martian surface, emergency hatch had been left open, allowing the creature easy access. The crew are at first skeptical that something crawled aboard while they were on Mars.

However, when Kienholz investigates odd sounds from lower level, he is killed and his body hidden in air duct. Next is Gino Finelli, who’s found, barely alive, but the creature attacks his would-be rescuer.

Bullets have no effect, forcing the crewman to leave Gino behind, to the distress of his brother Bob. Autopsy of Kienholz’s body reveals it has been sucked dry of all fluids.

The crew use hand and gas grenades, but the creature is immune to both. They next try electrocution, but with no effect.

When “It” is tricked into the spaceship’s atomic reactor room, they shut the heavily shielded door and expose the creature directly to the nuclear pile. It crashes through the door and escapes.

The creature is so strong it can tear through the metal hatches separating the ship’s levels. The survivors (except for an injured crewman, trapped below in a spot inaccessible) retreat to the control room on the topmost deck. When Carruthers notices the ship’s higher oxygen consumption rate, he believes this is due to the creature’s larger lung capacity, needed for the thin Martian atmosphere.

In desperate move, everyone puts on their spacesuits, and Carruthers opens the command deck’s hull airlock to the vacuum of space. A violent decompression follows, and the plan works: “It” suffocates and finally expires, stuck part way through the final hatch.

A press conference on Earth reveals the details of what happened aboard the ship. The project director notes that Earth may now be forced to bypass the Red Planet “because another word for Mars is death.”

It! The Terror from Beyond Space was financed by Edward Small and was originally known as It! The Vampire from Beyond Space.

Principal photography lasted over two-week in January of 1958.

It! was the last film of actor Ray “Crash” Corrigan. Corrigan was set to play the creature, but in pre-production, he did not want to travel all the way to Topanga in western Los Angeles County where Paul Blaisdell, the makeup artist, lived and operated his studio. Blaisdell could not take exact measurements of Corrigan’s head, and there were final fit problems with the creature’s head prop.


In 1992, Millennium Publications adapted It! The Terror from Beyond Space as short-run comic book series, written by Mark Ellis and Dean Zachary.

A further comics adaptation was released by Midnite Movies (IDW Publishing) in 2010, for a three-issue run.

Marshall Thompson as Col. Edward Carruthers
Shirley Patterson as Ann Anderson (as Shawn Smith)
Kim Spalding as Col. Van Heusen
Ann Doran as Mary Royce
Dabbs Greer as Eric Royce
Paul Langton as Lt. James Calder
Robert Bice as Maj. John Purdue
Richard Benedict as Bob Finelli
Richard Hervey as Gino Finelli
Thom Carney as Joe Kienholz
Ray Corrigan as It


Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Written by Jerome Bixby
Produced by Robert Kent, Edward Small (uncredited)
Narrated by Marshall Thompson
Cinematography Kenneth Peach
Edited by Grant Whytock
Music by Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter

Production companies: Vogue Pictures

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: August 14, 1958

Running time: 68 minutes


TCM showed the movie on Nov 27, 2021.