I remember seeing this film as a child and not being too impressed. My recollection was that it was a fairly dull film. I'm glad to say that it's actually better than I remember. It is set at the beginning of our conquest of space. Two brothers are trying to pierce the heavens but are continually butting heads. Commander Charles is in charge of the missions, but he can't seem to control his brother Dan who is the pilot. Dan is constantly pushing past the envelope. Eventually, this leads Dan to go that one step too far and his ship is attacked by space dust. The dust encrusts the ship and Dan like batter on a deep fried chicken. Well Dan looks sort of like a deep fried chicken if you left it iin the oil for about a week or so. On the plus side he's now bullet proof and super strong. On the other hand, he's also in dire need of blood to drink. So as the Commander tries to figure out what is happening Dan is murdering his way back to base.
I would say this is a surprisingly thoughtful film for a cheap horror film, except I'm not so surprised when I see that the same fellow was responsible for "Fiend Without a Face," one of my favorite B movies. The script is fairly strong, and they use some good lighting to gloss over a rather sparse production. It's not a classic by any means, but it has some good scenes and some heart.
Now remaking this would be a challenge since things have changed so much that you'd have to really alter the script unless you wanted to make it a period picture. I would remake it in the modern day and change it from a military project to a private company. This would keep that feeling of exploration as private firms right now are in competition to create the next generation of space vehicles. This could add some drama on a fiscal level. In the original film Dan was rather blase about wrecking a multi-million dollar craft. It would certainly change the stakes if he had his own money riding on things.
As to the nature of the creature, a few small tweaks are needed. I don't think space dust quite cuts the mustard these days. I would have the root cause a life form in a meteorite. The meteorite could crash into the craft and then infect. As a personal touch of technobabble I would say that the creature creates a coating of metamaterials. Metamaterials are a new class of substances that scientists are engineering that actually break known laws of science. One material for example bends light in the exact opposite fashion than normal materials. It's a good boilerplate cover phrase for a substance that can do whatever we want. Maybe it could bend light to make the creature invisible or at least very hard to see.
The big change I would make would be I wouldn't just have one creature. I'd have at least two. The reason is this: it would help perserve our sympathy for the Dan character. In the original film Dan is presented as near mindless murderer (who can still though somehow drive a car) who kills his way back to the base. Then, at the base he becomes a sympathic figure. Sick and staggering he's led into a vacuum chamber where they pump the air out to simulate extreme high altitude. Now he's able to breath and talk, and gives a brief little "I'm sorry, goodbye." speech then dies. It's nice, but there really is a question of sympathy here. You could say he was out of his mind and such but he was still able to drive a car, and he knew where to go. That means there was some consciousness of Dan there. In my version, there would be two creatures. One fully changed and a blood thirsty killer and Dan. The swath of murders would be by the first creature as Dan struggles to keep his humanity and come home. Authorities, though, wouldn't know this and would be hunting both. Finally, mortally wounded Dan manages to get into the chamber and give his final speech.
Anyhoo, that's how I'd do it buckeroos. Here's the trailer to the film, enjoy!