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An unwanted stowaway from Mars creates quite a ruckus aboard an Earth-bound spacecraft in It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). Not only does it love the taste of human blood, but it also likes to play hide-and-seek in the air shafts. Sound familiar? That's because screenwriter Dan O'Bannon ripped off the premise for Ridley Scott's big-budget space odyssey, Alien (1979). He also lifted some art direction ideas from Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires (1965), but that's another story.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space can be viewed as a conservative backlash against the accelerating space program of the late fifties since the title character is clearly not the sort of alien we want to bring back to Earth. Inside that scary costume is veteran stuntman Ray "Crash" Corrigan, who is the real star of this drive-in classic, directed by B-movie king Edward L. Cahn (The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, 1959).
In an interview by Ted Okuda for Filmfax Magazine, special effects artist Bob Burns comments on his mentor, Paul Blaisdell, and the problems the latter encountered on the set of It! The Terror from Beyond Space: "Ray 'Crash' Corrigan played the monster, but he wouldn't come to Topanga - where Paul lived - to get measured for the suit, so Paul had to sculpt the head over his own plaster bust. When Paul completed the outfit, the body of the creature was okay because Corrigan had sent over a pair of his long underwear, which Paul built the suit over. But when they put the head on Corrigan, his bulbous chin stuck out through the monster's mouth, so the make-up man painted his chin to look like a tongue. Everybody thinks the monster has a tongue, but it doesn't - it's just that Corrigan's chin kept snapping through the mouth because his head was so much bigger than Paul's. And they made Paul cut the eyes out. Another example of studio indecision. The head of the production department told Paul that the monster 'has gotta have eyes in it.' Paul said, 'Okay, but they're not going to move.' But the head guy said, 'I want it to have eyes in it, and that's all there is to it!' So Paul made it that way. But when he took it down to the producer's office, he said, 'Those are the worst eyes I've ever seen - get those damned eyes out of there!' So, not being built for Corrigan's face anyway, it didn't fit real close when the eyes were removed. Paul took some latex and rubbered it in, at least trying to make it fit. Corrigan couldn't see anything half of the time. There's a scene where he's supposed to be looking up and actually lifts the head to readjust the eyeholes so he could see."
Unfortunately, It! The Terror from Beyond Space was the last film to feature a Paul Blaisdell monster suit, but if you like what you see, you might want to search out Blaisdell's creature creations for such drive-in faves as It Conquered the World (1956), The She-Creature (1956), and Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957).
Producer: Robert E. Kent, Edward Small
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Screenplay: Jerome Bixby
Art Direction: William Glasgow
Cinematography: Kenneth Peach
Costume Design: Jack Masters, Paul Blaisdell
Film Editing: Grant Whytock
Original Music: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Principal Cast: Marshall Thompson (Col. Edward Carruthers), Shirley Patterson (Ann Anderson), Kim Spalding (Col. Van Heusen), Ann Doran (Dr. Mary Royce), Dabbs Greer (Eric Royce), Paul Langton (Lt. James Calder).
by Jeff Stafford