It! The Terror from Beyond Space Blu-ray Review

Or really just Mars, but beyond space sounds cooler

1973 once seemed like a logical year to put men on Mars. A loss of national pride crippled those dreams of expansion. That or space monsters. Either way.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space is ignorantly sincere in those old ways of space. Paranoia in a post-World War II nation remained. Why else would a group of astronauts brandish guns in a vacuum? Grenades? A bazooka!? They smoke in oxygen rich rooms, and women are “military property.” It’s the generational effect.

This becomes a film signed by its age, pre-moon landing and pre-space flight. The American ship sent to Mars is but a tube and spacewear more resembles radiation-blocking suits than something to reflect gamma rays. Such science naivety is adorable now.

Alien this is, albeit smaller, a touch cheekier, and not as brazen.

And still, It pushes out a masterful spread of tension. Shadows are effectively utilized, the spherical sets are hauntingly close, and the helplessness of this situation is forcible. Alien this is, albeit smaller, a touch cheekier, and not as brazen. The “It” is but a dehydrated, nearly invincible whats-it with claws where some claws shouldn’t be and a face even Mars rejected. Still, it’s a killer. Were it dressed in red (and the film in color), the Soviet Union space-race scare It projects would only be slightly more apparent.

In time, It has become fascinating horror, a shocker in its day but now passe as rising violence among slashers became normalcy. It’s quaint, the reason specifically why It carries power into another millennium. There is little need for squirting blood packets; a mere scrape is enough to leave victims reeling in sickness, and out of Earth’s atmosphere is not a place for illness. Or smoking, but still.

While down on the list of “man-sized monsters” from the ’50s (crushed under Universal’s powerhouse Creature from the Black Lagoon), It still has bite. Any elegance pops out from the necessarily bland art deco set design, rows of boxes with blinking lights lining the walls mean to insinuate computerization. There are all numbers of indecipherable dials, buttons, and switches.

Those computers are certainly attractive in comparison to the monster suit, an ineffective, overly bulky mess making a monster that could not logically exist were it not for suit builder Paul Blaisdell and actor Ray Corrigan (in his final role). In a certain way, this is all in It’s favor (despite the visible suit zipper) as the feature remained credible enough to build its own sub-genre – the “creature in the air ducts” mystery – and on a pittance of financing.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

A cast in fear @ 30:53

It is a privilege to have this film on Blu-ray, although it needs a better treatment. Olive issues the MGM feature to the format with dated technicals, from low resolution source material to some noise reduction. Print damage remains (spotty but visible) and grain has been lessened. A distinct layer of light smearing can be seen as a result.

What’s left is mediocre. Passable, better than DVD by compression standards, but still only passable. Fine detail seems to be screaming to shake loose from the impact of digital tools. Close-ups reveal the slightest examples of high frequency material before being sucked into the void of “enhancements.” At a time when a barrage of cult and unheard of features are receiving high class transfer work for the enthusiast audience who remains, It deserves better.

Gray scale is preserved, if muted. Space does not offer extensive light. Still, the black levels necessary to keep the ship’s underbelly cloaked in shadow are ample. The source provides its own set of problems. Edits and fades make a heavy impact and while forever locked to film technology of the day, processing layered on top only adds to the issue.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

DTS-HD 2.0 mono is sufficient to the feature’s needs, although revealing some digital tinkering here as well. That, or aggressive clean-up. The top-end feels pinched, not only due to age. Voices feel compressed in a way, while some stock music bottoms out and loses all tightness. While any defects have been cut, the impact on the final output is disappointing.

An issue of dynamic range sets in too, with the quiet monologue of the opening scene transitioning into a piercingly loud rocket launch. A similar segue is noted during the finale as an airlock door is opened.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

An original trailer, interesting for its attempt at subliminal marketing, is the lonely bonus.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆ 

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.