Starring Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith, Kim Spalding, Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)
A spaceship leaves Mars on a journey back to Earth, with a man its crew believes responsible for murder, but the real culprit, a lethal alien creature, has snuck aboard their ship.
Said to have inspired the Alien movies, this effective sci-fi chiller has a low budget and weak special effects, but is written, produced, and directed with such skill, it overcomes those trappings. Screenwriter Jerome Bixby, who was behind Star Trek's memorable "Mirror, Mirror" episode, delivers an excellent plot and intelligent characters, while director Edward L. Cahn skillfully moves those characters around their tiered rocket, building suspense as the creature advances towards them. Ray Corrigan, who filled many a gorilla suit during his acting career, inhabits the creature suit and brings it to life, and the filmmakers wisely confine our views of the monster, to build terror in our own imagination. With all the accolades that have been stacked on the Alien pictures, I don't think this film has been given its due. It may not have the eye-popping special effects or white-knuckle fright scenes those later pictures brought to the table, but it was there first, and remains a thrilling picture today.