First Man into Space (1959) | Look out! It’s the hideous cosmic monster that fell to Earth

First Man into Space (1959)Heavily inspired by Nigel Kneale’s The Quatermass Experiment, 1959’s The First Man into Space (which has nothing to do with Yuri Gagarin) was produced by British B-movie producer Richard Gordon after being rejected by American International Pictures. Shot in London and at air bases in Brooklyn and New Mexico, it was directed by Robert Day, who was no stranger to shockfests having helmed Boris Karloff’s Grip of the Strangler and Corridors of Blood the year before.

The most dangerous and daring mission of all time!
Daredevil pilot Dan Prescott (Bill Edwards) becomes the first man to fly into outer space – but he is exposed to cosmic rays and when his rocket returns to Earth, he seems to have vanished. Dan’s brother Chuck (Marshall Thompson) assumes the worst, until hearing reports that a bloodthirsty creature is terrorising Sante Fe…

First Man into Space (1959)

The Picture That Leaps Out of the Headline!
When I saw this golden age sci-fi as a 10-year-old, I was truly terrified by that hideous one-eyed cosmic dust encrusted monster that Bill Edwards’ turns into after his experimental flight. He reminded me of one of my mum’s badly burned Sunday roasts (now they were terrifying).

Watching it today, I had completely forgotten about the copious amounts of stock footage and talking heads that take up most of the film’s running time until we get to the best bits – when the rubber-suited monster goes on the rampage. Well rampage is a bit strong, as poor Bill is just trying to get back to base to get into a high-altitude testing chamber so he can breathe properly again.

First Man into Space (1959)

Marshall Thompson, who had been in Fiend Without a Face and It! The Terror From Beyond Space plays it brave, but bland (he was way better in TV’s Daktari); while Marla Landi makes an OK scream queen as Dan Dare’s caring girlfriend (Landi would next appear in Hammer’s Hound of the Baskervilles before ditching acting to marry a baronet); and then there’s Roger Delgado pops up as a Mexican Consul. Dated but still one to seek out, if only for the burnt casserole monster – which was a big influence on the 1970s sci-fi, The Incredible Melting Man.

The OEG Classic Movies DVD release features a remasterd and restored print by the BFI (although it looked way grainy to me) presented in a PAL 4:3 aspect ratio, with no extras.

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on September 13, 2015, in Exploitation, Horror, Might See, Might See, Might See, Might-See, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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