The “IT” List

In anticipation of IT FOLLOWS (now available on DVD & Blu-ray), I began thinking of other films that had “IT” in the title. This resulted in the following list of ten movies that will have you asking, “What is IT? Is IT real? Where does IT come from?! CAN IT BE STOPPED?!” Prepare yourselves for….

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD | Digital Copy
What IT is: Peaceful, telepathic, shape-shifting, tentacled hellbeasts.
Where IT came from: Outer space. (Duh!)
What IT’s about: A group of aliens crash-land on Earth near the desert town of Sand Rock, Arizona. Unlike most alien vistors/invaders, they merely want to go home and don’t mean us harm. But to repair their ship, they need certain materials, and a little help.

The aliens kidnap some nearby townsfolk, steal their identities, and go about rebuilding their craft. However, their inability to totally blend in creates some Cold War-style paranoia, leading to the deaths of two aliens before they release their unharmed hostages and escape from Earth. It’s totally a case of “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” that probably hurt intergalactic relations for centuries.

Based on a Ray Bradbury short story, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a solid little sci-fi tale that offers up an introspective look at how we judge those that are different from us. It’s a bit on the slow side, and some of the effects are really hokey by today’s standards, but the film effectively creates an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, before switching gears at the climax.

 

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD | Blu-ray | Digital Copy
What IT is: A giant, radioactive six-armed octopus.
Where IT came from: From unda da sea!
What IT’s about: Accidents and disappearances begin happening at an alarming rate at sea. After eyewitness accounts, and some scientific research, it is concluded that a giant cephalopod (a.k.a. an octopus) is the culprit. Mines and depth charges are ineffective against the terror from the deep, and attempts to electrocute it only drive it out of the sea and up onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

The octopus attacks San Francisco, toppling buildings and smashing fleeing crowds into jelly with it’s mighty tentacles, until it is driven off with flamethrowers. It’s only after a prototype torpedo is utilized that the octopus is finally defeated in San Francisco Bay. Much calamari was had that day I can tell you.

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA is a fun movie, that succeeds mostly because of Ray Harryhausen’s amazing stop-motion animation. The cast is quite dull, and the story is something we’ve seen dozens of times, but the special effects done by Harryhausen make the film’s shortcomings easy to overlook.

 

IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956)
Watch IT on Youtube: CLICK HERE
What IT is: An alien named Zontar!
Where IT came from: Venus
What IT’s about: A disenfranchised scientist named Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef!) contacts an alien being via a radio transmitter and invites it to Earth. The alien, Zontar, claims that it can bring peace to Earth by ridding humanity of all emotions. However, the dastardly creature actually plans to enslave us all through mind control!

In the end, the U.S. military attempts to defeat the monster, but can’t, so Dr. Anderson martyrs himself and dies while holding a blowtorch to Zontar’s face. THE END.

Directed by Roger Corman, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD features a stellar cast, which includes Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, and Lee Van Cleef. It’s super cheesy, and its low budget origins are more than obvious, but this short sci-fi tale is a classic in its own right.

 

FROM HELL IT CAME (1957)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD
What IT is: Tabanga, a vengeful tree monster.
Where IT came from: The result of the accidental pairing of voodoo magic and modern technology!
What IT’s about: Executed by a witch doctor for a crime he did not commit, a South Seas prince returns from the grave as a radioactive tree monster!

After avenging his own murder, the creature continues his rampage. Attempts to capture and destroy Tabanga all fail, but it is eventually defeated when a well-placed bullet drives a sacrificial dagger into it’s heart.

I’ve been meaning to watch this one for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Click on over to DVD Drive-In to get their opinion on it.

 

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD | Blu-ray | Digital Copy
What IT is: A seemingly indestructible alien that drains the moisture out of its victims.
Where IT came from: Mars
What IT’s about: A rescue mission sent to Mars discovers Colonel Edward Carruthers, a lone survivor from a crash landing. Thinking that he murdered his fellow space travelers for their supplies, the rescue crew prepares to bring him back to Earth to answer for his crimes. They soon realize that Carruthers isn’t the culprit when dead bodies begin appearing on board.

Apparently, an alien being (Ray “Crash” Corrigan in his final onscreen role) has stowed away aboard their vessel, and has been systematically hunting down and draining crewmembers of their bodily fluids. Attempts to use guns and grenades against the monster fail, as does locking it in the ship’s nuclear reactor. Eventually, the surviving characters smartly decide to suffocate the creature by opening up an airlock.

Considered by many to be a precursor (and even an inspiration) to Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE is an above average sci-fi thriller that is well worth a look.

 

IT’S ALIVE (1969)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD
What IT is: An evolutionary cul-de-sac that is related to The Gillman.
Where IT came from: Earth’s ancient past I suppose.
What IT’s about: Norman and Leela are two newlyweds that run afoul of a crazy farmer named Greely, who operates his own private zoo. The pride and joy of his collection is a prehistoric monster, trapped in the cave system behind his farm. He offers to show it to them, but then traps them inside to be creature-chow.

By the end of the film, Norman has been devoured, and Greely and his prehistoric pet are buried under rubble, thanks to some dynamite that the would-be victim conveniently had on hand. I haven’t seen this Larry Buchanan “classic” before, but it sounds kind of cool, even if the star attraction is a man in a really bad monster suit. If anything, it seems like a movie that could benefit from a remake.

And speaking of remakes, did you know that Larry Buchanan actually remade IT CONQUERED THE WORLD in 1966 as ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS? Well now you do! #TheMoreYouKnow

 

IT’S ALIVE (1974)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD
What IT is: A killer mutant baby with claws and fangs.
Where IT came from: The womb of Lenore Davis.
What IT’s about: This Larry Cohen shocker has one of the best taglines ever: “There’s something wrong with the Davis baby…. IT’S ALIVE!” The film opens as Lenore Davis is giving birth to her newborn child. Seconds after it comes screaming into this world, the toddler immediately slays everyone in the delivery room.

It escapes the hospital, and soon the authorities are out in force to kill a monster baby. Lenore and her hubby Frank are put into protective custody, but they discover that they can’t escape from their hellish offspring.

During the climax, mere moments after Frank finally accepts the creature as his son, the killer infant is gunned down by the police. (Along with the fertility doctor that gave Lenore a prescription that most likely created the mutation.) As the grieving parents are led away by the officers, a call comes in from HQ warning that another like it has been born in Seattle.

IT’S ALIVE is a bizarre, but oddly satisfying horror film. Though there have been numerous films centered on killer children (e.g. CHILDREN OF THE CORN, BLOODY BIRTHAY, THE DEVIL TIMES FIVE, PET SEMATARY), this was the first time that a baby was a major threat in a film. IT’S ALIVE generated two equally strange sequels, including IT’S ALIVE 2: IT LIVES AGAIN (which is actually pretty decent) and IT’S ALIVE III: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE (which is batshit insane).

 

STEPHEN KING’S IT (1990)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD | Digital Copy
What IT is: A shape-shifting monster that feeds on the fear of children. IT typically takes the form of an evil clown named Pennywise.
Where IT came from: The twisted mind of Stephen King.
What IT’s about: The kids of Derry, Maine are in danger. An ancient evil has made itself at home beneath the town, and is terrorizing and murdering children.

Disguised as “Pennywise, the dancing clown” (Tim Curry, in one of his most memorable roles), the creature’s terrifying antics become noticed by a ragtag group of social outcasts who call themselves “The Losers Club.” They team up and take the fight to their terrifying boogeyman, and win a short-lived victory.

Years later, when they have all become adults, Pennywise returns, forcing them to reunite in order to destroy the evil creature once and for all. Unfortunately, it all boils down to an awful, anticlimactic battle with a giant spider-like monster. (LAME!)

Despite my misgivings about it’s second half, IT is still a very solid, and memorable horror tale. Tim Curry’s performance is the highlight of this mini-series; he is darkly funny one moment, and nightmare-inducing the next!

There are currently plans to remake Stephen King’s IT  into a feature film (or two), but it seems destined to wallow in pre-production hell. If it finally does go into production, I’m pretty curious to who they will cast in Curry’s iconic role.

 

IT CAME! (1993)
Watch it on YouTube: CLICK HERE
What IT is: A body-hopping alien presence.
Where IT came from: ?
What IT’s about: I never knew this film existed until a few days ago. This obscure direct-to-video title focuses on an alien force generated from an electrical overload. It possesses an electrician, goes on a rampage, then hops from host to host as it continues its reign of terror. I guess I can best describe it as PULSE meets SHOCKER meets THE HIDDEN, meets JASON GOES TO HELL, with a dash of PONTYPOOL… or something….

OK, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never watched this movie. But then again, who has?!

I did manage to find a full copy of IT CAME! on YouTube (see link above), and skimmed through it to sate my curiosity. What I can tell you, is that it is not safe for work, due to topless women and cheap gore f/x. And as an added bonus, the film opens with a drinking game!

 

IT WAITS (2005)
Purchase IT at Amazon.com: DVD | Blu-ray
What IT is: An ancient Native American demon called a Wakinyah.
Where IT came from: Injun Hell?
What IT’s about: After being freed from its centuries-old captivity, a demonic creature goes on a small killing spree, then decides to mess with a depressed forest ranger named “Danny” St. Claire. (Huh… sounds like a porn name doesn’t it?) It turns out that the creature is attracted to her negative vibes, and it goes out of its way to kill her lover, and surround her with dismembered bodies.

Eventually Danny hits her breaking point and takes the fight to the Wakinyah. She wounds it several times and finally manages to trap it back in the cave from whence it came. There it shall continue to wait until some foolishly curious person decides to blast open the entrance with dynamite again.

I caught the bulk of IT WAITS on SyFy Channel late one night, but never got around to finishing it. I’m kind of a sucker for films that utilize any sort of Native American mythology (e.g. SHADOW OF THE HAWK, RAVENOUS), so I recall enjoying that aspect of this movie. It’s not a game-changer, or super memorable, but it does enough right to warrant an afternoon viewing. I’m most definitely going to give it a second go in the near future!

Well that’s IT everyone! Thank you for reading; I truly hope you enjoyed “The IT List!” Remember to avoid experimental pharmaceuticals if you’re pregnant, stay out of secluded forests, jungles, and the deep blue sea, beware of crazy electricians, practice abstinence, and “keep watching the skies!

Are there any “IT” movies I missed that you felt should have been included on this list? Let me know in the comments below! Curious to learn more about the film that inspired this list? Then CLICK HERE to read my review for IT FOLLOWS!