View Full Version : First Man Into Space

05-26-2003, 12:44 AM
First Man Into Space

Navy test pilot Lieut. Dan Prescott, in experimental rocket plane Y-13, disobeys orders and becomes the first man to fly outside the ionosphere. Unable to turn, he ejects...and is plastered with metallic meteor dust. The pilot compartment lands with no trace of the pilot... but first cattle, then people, are found with their throats cut as if with an axe, by something that seems to have a craving for blood...


Brothers in conflict, Italian love interest, space exploration to the limits of endurance, crash landings and vampiric attacks all come together in this gem from 1959.

Two brothers working for the navy. One of them is an over-achiever, always willing to take a risk in order to be the best. The other is a solid fellow, always towing the line, officious, honest and smart played by Marshall Thompson, who else?) The former wants to be the first man into space, and he’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it.

During a flight that is supposed to go the edges of the atmosphere, Dan Prescott, the brother almost out of control, drives his ship further into space than planned, achieving his lifetime goal. Unfortunately, his ship is engulfed in space dust from a meteorite. Losing consciousness, we fear all is lost for Prescott.

Back on earth, they lose track of the craft. However, the cockpit does eventually turn up in a farmer’s field. Peculiarly, it is covered in a strange coating that looks like the surface of the moon. The police want to help the Navy figure out what happened, but they are side-tacked into investigating the death of 12 cows in a nearby field.

In the mean time we have an investigation to figure out what the coating is. The pilot is presumed dead, burned up in the atmosphere. The coating has strange properties, it cannot be penetrated by X-ray or infrared. Hell, let’s face it, every hokum scientific explanation is applied to the strange coating.

And the deaths continue. Truck drivers, women in their bedrooms, policeman, all suffer the same fate. Throats slashed, blood gone. It’s like there’s a vampire on the loose!

A break in the case comes when Prescott’s brother finds a piece of space suit near a dead cow. Putting two and two together, he realizes that there is a good chance his brother survived the crash, and is now on some murderous rampage. Further, he discovers that if you slash the coating from the spaceship across foam, it leaves marks like those found on the bodies (along with a sprinkling of space dust! Okay, glitter.)

But where is the brother heading? What happened to him on the craft, and can he be saved?

First Man Into Space had a budget that is less than a TV commercial today. In order to get around the fact that they had to use a suit for the monster, they simply explained it as a spacesuit that is burned onto the body (nice trick actually). The monster makeup on the face is superb, even by today's standards, with an eye that has slipped down the cheek and doesn’t blink, and a twisted mouth. They do nothing to hide this grotesque feature either, good for them! In 1959 this must have seemed amazing.

Image Quality

Does every film have to be restored so it looks like it made yesterday? If you answered yes to this, then you’re going to sorely disappointed. No restoration was done here, or rather, nothing discernable was done. Speckles and scratches are evident in abundance. You know, it did not ruin it for me, this is the way to see such films. However, Image apparently did nothing at all, and for the price, one might have expected SOME effort.


Glorious mono. The sound is clear, but there are pops every now and again.

Supplemental Material

Hey, this is where things get really scary. The only extra is a trailer. However, Image really screwed up by not even giving us a true menu system! The trailer plays right after the film has finished. There is a menu for chapter stops, and the last stop is the trailer. That’s a really clumsy way of running things. Honestly, since I paid $19 for the disc, a stupid menu would have been nice!

Final Thoughts

Sure, this is grade B cheese. However, it transcends all of that for a genuinely entertaining film. The science is laughable, the dialogue simplistic and the conclusion brings together the love interest just before death.

But it is eminently watchable. This is 1959 for goodness sakes. Made one year after Fiend With a Face (another classic not to be missed) Marshall Thompson makes another appearance, and a fine job he does too. He’s just too perfect for playing the understanding military person (he plays almost the exact same part in this film as he did in Fiend).

Some of the special effects are going to make you laugh your ass off - the flight scenes in particular are just so comical, along with the usual military stock footage. But once the film settles into a state of horror, things improve. Back on earth, the murderous pilot looks great, and he takes no prisoners.

Overall, if you are a Quatermass fan, then this is a must own disc. I’d put it alongside other sci-fi films of the period without question. It won’t disappoint if you are inclined to this genre, and period of film.

Image Quality – C-
Sound – C-
Supplements – d-
Enjoyment – A!!!

Image Entertainment
Running Time - 1 hour 18 minutes
Black and White
Region 1, NTSC
Not Rated
Glorious mono

05-26-2003, 10:42 AM
A damn good review Dwatts.

I am a sucker for old sci-fi stuff from the 50's and 60's, and I am surprised to say that I have never heard of this.

This is something that I am going to have to look for when I have my next Sci-Fi film festival.

Thanks Dwatts.

05-26-2003, 10:56 AM
If you are a sucker for this period, then you have got to have this film!

My next purchase of this period is going to be The Crawling Eye starring Forrest Tucker. Another Grabe B cheesefest from 1958 which is priceless.

Mind you, I order these from Deep discount DVD, and they're taking five weeks to get to me in europe!

05-26-2003, 11:03 AM
Ouch! That is a bit of a wait Dwatts.

As far as The Crawling Eye is concerned, I watched it when I went on my sci-fi binge a year or so back. Really good movie for that type, but then I am a suckeer for these kinds of movies.

I am looking forward to checking out The First Man Into Space when I get a chance. So much stuff getting added to my "wish list" every week. :D

05-26-2003, 11:44 AM
Tell me about it. DDD are cheap, and have become my access to R1 material. But it is kind of "order and forget". I have a shipped order with CDUniverse that has taken even LONGER to get to europe.......

I look forward to The Crawling Eye. It cracks me up - on IMDB people are reviewing it saying the SFX at the end are not very good. I think that's a bit short-sighted. It was 1958 for goodness sakes. I saw that film in the 60's, and was suitably horrified. Must order..... Pay day next Wednesday!!!!