Thus began one of the creepiest science fiction shows ever to bombard the tube, “The Outer Limits.” I dig this show big time, and it horrified me as a kid. . . which was a good thing. The intro to the show seemed to suggest that this “Control Voice Guy” had somehow figured out a way to get into my house and screw with our TV, and frankly I wasn’t too happy about it. Who did this pesky guy think he was, making my dad’s 8000 pound Zenith console television with the walnut cabinet go haywire every week?
Outer Limits was the first TV show to showcase icky, gooey monsters combined with cerebral, futuristic hard science fiction. Sometimes the monsters were incredibly lame, but the show was otherwise so weird and the stories so well conceived that the monsters were scary anyway. The monsters would wobble, they’d bobble, they’d dribble, they’d pulsate. You knew they were fake but you also knew they were slimy and bloaty and you didn’t want to be anywhere near them. The combination of story, weird music, contrasty film noir cinematography, and the sheer imaginative audacity of the special effects guys made it really nightmarish.
One of my favorite episodes is “The 6th Finger”, which starred David McCallum who was at the height of his cold war spy fame from Man from U.N.C.L.E. McCallum played the part of Gwyllm, a lowly minor, who becomes the subject of an experiment that accelerates his evolution, and basically we watch as this regular guy transforms, step by step, into a dude of the future.
The episode had one of the most innovative prosthetic make-up jobs of its time.
It was done by a guy named John Chambers, who was later to devise the famed Planet of the Apes makeups.
As always, I’m trying to collect as much Outer Limits stuff as I can find for Captain Hollywood’s (nearly famous) Curiosity Shop. I have found a few pieces, but they are getting harder and harder to find, and am always looking to stock up on more, both for my collection and for you guys, my customers. There are a series of figures that were produced some time ago that really do justice to the monsters on the show, I’ve got a few of them in perfect condition in the original display boxes, including Gwyllm (click above), and the heinous creature that picked on our space guys from the episode called “Nightmare.”
Well, the old Zenith is no longer with us, but the Outer Limits still are. You can get the entire early episodes on a big set of DVDs, and I imagine they’ll be streaming somewhere pretty soon too. Just remember not to kick the TV when the image changes to a soft blur, you see a weird test pattern, or your picture gives way to a bunch of wiggly lines. It’s probably not the heinous work of the perpetually evil cable companies, it’s likely just the sneaky Control Voice Guy taking you to. . . . .the Outer Limits.