What is It! The Terror Beyond Space? Perhaps we’ll never know. What we know, or at least I do, is that this is a great piece of late 1950s science fiction. An unheralded classic. Part mystery, part thriller, part creature feature, with a subtle love triangle. While this film doesn’t take place in The Twilight Zone, it could.
The story is easy to follow with twists and turns to build mystery and suspense. A brilliant piece of storytelling, and would also make for an entertaining read. This is a well-written film with a thought out story arch. The story isn’t contrived, campy, or hokey. Well, there is a slight hokiness which I’ll get to in a minute, but it has nothing to do with the story. I can’t say enough about the story, the most crucial element. Who cares if the acting is Oscar worthy if the story is horrible? I’ll find something else to watch.
Why is the story so good with that classic Twilight Zone feel? The writer is none other than Jerome Bixby. He wrote the original short story “It’s a Good Life” in 1953 that Rod Serling adapted into a teleplay for the classic episode, one of if not the most famous of the series. This film also inspired the 1979’s Alien. I haven’t seen that one, but now I’m interested in doing so. The plot is genius. This film never bored me or made me lose interest while watching. I wanted to see what would happen next.
The acting isn’t bad either. I could suspend my disbelief and believe these events were happening forcing real people to deal with them. Films from this era and genre become littered with bad acting. Wooden performances, over-acting, hammy, campy, any or all. We have none of that here. Nothing was over the top or rushed. This was a serious story, and the actors responded.
Now for the slight amount of hokiness, which to be honest isn’t that bad. For films of this era and genre you have to expect a certain amount. The thing to consider is how the situation is handled. I’m referring to the creature. The monster. It! The production team lacked the luxury of high tech CGI special effects. They did the best with what they had, which might give a chill to an audience in 1958. In 2016, well, not so much. That’s the lone complaint. In all reality that isn’t a game breaker.
This film is worth the 70 minute run time. I need to make room in my collection so I can add It! The Terror Beyond Space to it.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2016