The first of three collaborations between producer Charles H. Schneer, director Nathan Juran and special effects master Ray Harryhausen, this movie jump starts the space program past the moon and takes it to Venus, as a manned trip — the XY-21 — crashes into the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Italy. Only one astronaut survives — Colonel Bob Calder (William Hopper) — as a disease caught in space killed off the entire crew.
There’s also an egg.
That egg hatches and the real star of this movie, the ymir, emerges and begins to grow at an amazing rate. He also was the only thing I cared about in this movie as a child. Who cares if Marisa Leonardo (Joan Taylor) has a crush on Calder? I just wanted to watch this big lizard man destroy Rome and forget all those soldiers who wanted to stop it. It didn’t ask to come to Earth.
This movie was so important that the February 1966 issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland had 12 pages on it. Monster kids had to have been losing their minds.
I love that this was to be set in Chicago and then before he sent in his idea, Harryhausen changed it to Rome, because he always wanted to go to Italy but could never afford it. It’s not all made there, as a lot of the movie is shot on the Warner Brothers Ranch. Keep an eye out for the Friends fountain.
The Mill Creek Sci-Fi from the Vault set also has Creature With the Atom Brain, It Came From Beneath the Sea and The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock. It also has two featurettes, They Came from Beyond and Fantastic Features. You can get it from Deep Discount.