I vaguely recall the first part which seems to have been OK. The sequel features the same demonic clowns as the first time around, which obviously makes it less interesting.
The reactions of the characters are often either unconvincing or off, much of the dialog verges on the silly.
The big reveal doesn't comes as too much of a surprise, and leads to a rather anti-climactic, far too talky last 10 minutes during which the "head demon" gives speeches instead off lopping heads off.
The earlier plot-twist about Alex is uninteresting, irrelevant. Who gives a crap that Alex had made some secret deals back in 2009? He wasn't part of the demonic clan, he's still a victim.
The last scene suggests that the house will kill some cops. Does that mean the police will raid the house AFTER that massacre with 100 of their best? Will they all get killed too? Will the house kill 56 cop intrusions in a row? Won't that lead to the world finding out that the house is supernatural hence authorities will eventually destroy it?
I very much doubt it. Part 3 was filmed in 2019, and I am convinced it completely ignores all logic including this cop dilemma. The notion that cops guard the house around the clock, while allowing a dozen corpses to lie around in it for years is about as realistic as Sean Penn's appraisal of Saddam Hussein.
All in all, a silly, cliched found-in-sewage mediocrity with a few solid scenes but not much else.
The set-up is great, plenty of potential: a remote drilling rig in the Sahara, and the theme of digging nine miles, all the way down to Hell itself - plus a succubus as the icing on the cake. Great, huh?
Nope. Turns out there is no Hell, only the imaginary kind of "personal hell", i.e. The boring cop-out sort that's so much less interesting than the real Hell (which extremely rarely gets shown in horror movies, because film-makers are so frightened of failure). No succubus either. Apparently, the expedition members were all killed by their own hallucinations, caused by a strong toxic gas. They offed each other basically. So lame...
Imagine if "The Thing" had ended with a "there was no alien" because "a toxic gas made everyone go nuts". Eff off, movie.
Even worse, the movie lies to us around 100 times, not exaggerating, and doesn't stop lying until the bitter end, until a few minutes before the credits start rolling. I don't recall a movie this wishy-washy, this may be the most indecisive mystery ever. The writer alternates between "it's real hell" and "it's all a hallucination" for almost an hour. It's literally a seesaw:
She is an evil succubus.nShe isn't. Yes, she is. No, she isn't. Yup, she is one after all. No, she's not.
This is the whole movie. It's literally all like this.
This goes on for far longer than is acceptable, advisable or tolerable. Eventually it just gets almost laughable, and by that point I just wasn't that interested anymore because by the end I'd lost trust in the director who'd cried "wolf" way too often. Trick me once, fine: you're allowed to do that. Trick me twice or thrice: OK, forgivable, as long as the end-product works. Trick me 100 times and you can eff off.
It is absurd that JC - a woman - is the only survivor found by Jack. Surrounded by dangerous, psychotic men, she should have been easy prey, and an early victim of the insanity and mayhem that took over the drilling place. Her demeanor upon being discovered by Jack is too calm and collected, considering everything that went down. The director did EVERYTHING to make her suspicious and an obvious candidate for succubus, by manipulating and lying. Then he makes her behave like a human. Then she's back to being demonic. Then it's suggested "well, Jack is inhaling a toxic gas" which means that EVERY single scene could be a deception by the director. Then JC admits to "pretending - doing whatever it took to play along and stay safe". What a load of...
Hell, if I can't trust ANY of what's being shown on the screen then what story is there to follow? The director went overboard, forgot some basics to story-telling hence messed up the plot by making it ultra-convoluted. Or not so much the plot itself but the truth. He wanted to play games with the audience, thinking that film-making is not much else aside from deception. But there's more to film-making than treating the audience as cretins.
Then there's that nonsense about no armed rescue team being available for a while. A rather weak, unconvincing plot-device. Morons may fall for it, but convincing me is much tougher.
The movie completely relies on just two actors throughout. Neither of them are good enough though. He is too frantic, not convincing enough, and she'd been too badly instructed by the director who made her send inconsistent, mixed signals.
Incredibly cheep garbage made fun by the Rifftrax team. Without their commentary it would have been very tough to sit through this crap.
Greg Sestero from "The Room" has the lead, which must be the reason they picked this one, because most PM movies can be spoofed with ease. The fact that Sestero speaks with an idiotic French accent must have been an added bonus to choose this bad sequel as opposed to other bad sequels. This leads me to suspect that the reason he got this role is because he told the casting director that he is a fluent French speaker. (I read most of his autobiography i.e. The book about "The Room".)
The puppets look more horrible than ever, as opposed to horrifying, and the "Egyptian" bad guys are the least ominous supernatural demons in the history of cinema. Based just on this laughable trio I would slap this turkey with a G rating. 3 year-olds would laugh at this movie.
Some people cling on to their laptops no matter what...
At less than an hour, "Host" definitely won't test your patience the way so many (horror) films do. It is compact, interesting and fun. Much like "Unfriended" except without the big plot-twist. In fact this movie has no major twists.
Set during the pandemic and quarantine, I find it quite ironic that the person who summons a demon by mistake is the only Chinese person in the movie. Draw your own conclusions from that.
I'm taking off a point penalty for the lack of realism regarding the cameras i.e. The recording. It makes no sense whatsoever for any of these characters to carry around laptops or mobile phones when under attack - i.e. In full terror mode - just to show the others (and the audiences) what is going on in their respective abodes. In reality, each of these people would be running like crazy, dropping all appliances on the floor as soon as they're feeling threatened and spooked.
I wish there were an intelligent solution to this problem. How about just allowing for CONVENTIONAL camera work to take over once a character is off-line i.e. No longer in communication with the others? Where is it written that the ENTIRE movie must be made up of shots "recorded" by the characters? Web-cam horror is a great new sub-genre, so much better than found-in-sewage, but it doesn't need to be bound by such rigid self-inflicted rules as far as narrative is concerned.
A fairly attractive, charismatic female cast certainly helps. (No, not all of them.) Caroline Ward tops this list. She is by far the best-looking of the bunch.
Caroline Ward is a decent actress, looks great, so why does she have only one feature film to her credit? Obviously, because she isn't a Coppola, a Gyllenhaal, a Barrymore, an Arquette or a Carradine. Nepotism is a serious problem in cinema, it has been crippling the industry for decades.
Possibly the dumbest TOL script and the most ridiculous characters.
Another dumb episode, this time from "Star Trek" alumni Jerry Sohl who had already screwed up his previous TOL non-effort, the incredibly dumb and cheesy "Invisible Enemy". In fact, both of these episodes most probably belong to the Top 5 Dumbest in the series.
Stupid characters, clunky preachiness, and incredibly silly dialogue get in the way of this anyway half-assed premise having a fighting chance to overcome its own illogic.
The worst character by far is the "evil capitalist" slob, played by Michael Constantine who is far more suitable to portray a NYC garbageman (or a low-level mobster) than an ambitious "builder of civilizations". He should have played Fred Flintstone instead: much more at home in the distant past than the distant future. His over-the-top behaviour already made me facepalm so hard that I nearly broke my skull. Sohl's writing is as subtle as using a sledgehammer to pummel a fly.
Then there is the "morally virtuous journalist" because, as we all know, journalists are FAMED for their integrity - at least according to left-wing Hollywood scribblers, some of whom had dabbled in journalism anyway. In fact, Sohl actually misuses Dixx (the garbageman mobster) by having him question the ethics of the journalistic profession, thereby trying to absolve journalism of the "cliche" that its practitioners "struggle with truth", as Dixx correctly puts it. This is so ironic, and stupid, i.e. Sohl using Dixx as a symbol of greed, evil and stupidity - yet he inadvertently gives him a line that very rightfully and correctly mocks journalism. (Considering how much worse journalists have become with each decade since the 60s, there is every chance that this particular journalist is even worse than the ones we have now, in the Age of Virtue-Signaling Cultural Marxism and fake news.)
Then there's the perpetually grinning botanist, but all he does is grin, so I'll just ignore him.
The worst politically-correct preachy moment is when someone brings up American Indians, just so Dixx can (very predictably) say something genocidal about them, further underlining that yes, capitalists are primitive psychopaths who talk like NY mobsters and look like Fred Flintstone! I'm not sure whether Elon Musk would agree... Predictably, and very SJW-ly, the "noble journalist" is instantly disgusted by Dixx's attitude toward the Indians. Anyone smell a daft, untalented, predictable, generic left-wing writer here? Everything's black-and-white with these propagandist hack writers. Their worldview is like that of a child.
Things get stupid very quickly. Already this concept of a simulated mission to an alien planet makes little sense. Why does it have to last nearly a year? Does this mean that if the real flight took 11 years to get there then the fake flight would also last 11 years? Wouldn't it be enough to test these people for a month or two? Or just send them to extensive psycho-evaluation? Is psychology of the future so backwards that there is zero trust in it? Would these ambitious, serious professionals with real careers really have that much time to throw away?
I was especially irritated by the rule that "if anybody presses the panic button, everybody is disqualified from the real flight". Wut...? Is Sohl trying to tell me that these very serious career people would be willing to waste almost a year - only to potentially get DQed because someone, through no fault of their own, pressed the button? Yeah, sign me up, please! I can imagine that millions would be scrambling to volunteer for such a low-odds chance at flying to a distant planet...
Dixx "Capitalist Pig" Flintstone picks up a gun at the end and threatens to kill the quasi-pilot... which would achieve what exactly? Ensure Dixx's place on the real mission?! That was a pretty bonehead move, but then again Dixx's character is supposed to be an imbecile, and he is presented as a street thug not a businessman. (So why was he approved for the test then?! Did they draw lots?) Although, to be fair to Dixx, it takes an imbecile writer to create such an imbecile character...
Dixx gets attacked by the goofy special-effect early on, a tiny floating hangman; as a result of this unprovoked attack Fred Flintstone has marks on his neck - as concrete proof. Yet, somehow, most of these "carefully chosen intelligent professionals" are suggesting/insisting that Dixx's wound is psychosomatic! So in effect Sohl had just unintentionally labeled everyone else as dumb too, not just the "evil capitalist" barbarian... Nice going, Jerry...
Speaking of which, what has Sohl against entrepreneurs and engineers? He must have taken too many classes at some Hollywood Communist workshop... Totally brainwashed nonsense. Hell, even the Soviet Onion which Sohl probably sympathized with had need for engineers. Sohl should have been banished from walking on bridges and buying capitalist products at stores - with the money he earned trashing capitalism! These hypocrites need to be forced to live in caves - or North Korea.
The shenanigans continue when Dr Hendrix, the frustrated spinster, goes to Dr James's room (of all people) to... hold his hand. Minutes later, his daughter's doll is planted in James's room which infuriates him, turning him into a paranoid lunatic. Now, all these people knew already that this was an experiment, that they would be tested, so why do they keep suspecting only each other of sabotage? Logically, they should be far more suspicious of the quasi-pilot and the quasi-stewardess i.e. The people working for this pointless circus.
The latest point when the entire episode completely disintegrates under the weight of its nonsense is the lounge scene when a fight breaks out between "good" and "evil" (i.e. The journalist and the capitalist), to be interrupted shortly thereafter by the appearance of Hendrix - who'd suddenly turned into a kittenish, flirtatious harlot! After Dixx starts getting horny over her (literally three seconds upon seeing Hendrix) he simply forgets about the fight. At this point the episode lost any hope of redemption. This kind of bizarre scene is the result of an incompetent writer very clumsily trying to portray psychological breakdown within a small group pressured by difficult conditions and unusual circumstances. Sohl attempting this kind of "psychological depth" is akin to Ed Wood trying to write a novel that would rival anything that Mark Twain had written.
"He has reasons for loving that doll, just as you have reasons for wanting to be a woman," says the fake biologist who acts here as the resident psychologist, in what is definitely one of the dumbest lines in the entire series.
"You're a very pretty woman, Maggie, but you're as cold as a robot... I'm much more woman than you." That's another idiotic line, which comes completely out of left field, but is somehow supposed to work because Hendrix is going insane... Except that her drift into madness is handled very clumsily and unconvincingly. We don't get a proper, gradual, credible fall into madness but a rather sudden change of character instead. As if she had always been a schizophrenic, just managed to hide it well up to that point.
Journalist: "What are you?"
Alien: "I am from planet Antheon!"
Biologist: "Are you always like this?"
That was pretty amusing too. As was nearly everything said right after this. The conversation between Planimal and the hu-mans is absolutely hilarious. There are so many awesome "one-liners" that I simply can't be bothered to transcribe them all here. Suffice it to say that Sohl didn't just take too many Communism Brainwashing classes, but he must have also been an avid student in one of Ed Wood's Bad Screenwriting courses. I'm not exaggerating. The dialog is that stupid.
What exactly is the pilot's function? Apparently, to give speeches and feel superior. Still, I know how he feels: anyone would feel superior toward these people.
"Duplicate man" refers to illegal temporary clones used in the future, which in this case is roughly the first or second decade of the 21st century. A scientist who had been illegally keeping a megasoid - which then escaped - has himself cloned in order for the clone to catch this rare, violent bird before it breeds, multiplies and becomes a threat to mankind. The megasoid is such an extremely dangerous alien feathery fiend that it had been banned and wiped out on Earth in 1986, 21 years after TOL's cancelation.
1986, huh? That's roughly the time Sean Penn appeared in the public... Coincidence? Perhaps. Could Penn be the only surviving megasoid? He certainly fits the description: violent, devious, and has a bird's beak. Check, check, check, check and check. Also, the megasoid is described as having higher intelligence than humans...
OK, forget about Sean then. Clearly he doesn't fit the beak. I mean the bill. At all.
Anyway... The scientist's name is Henderson James instead of James Henderson, probably because this sounds more "futuristic".
Henderson doesn't go out to kill the bird himself because he is a coward. Then again, would a coward illegally hold a creature that could easily kill him? Would a coward defy laws that make him a felon? So this whole coward business doesn't quite add up. Committing a felony (cloning) to cover up another felony (harbouring a dangerous megaseanpenn) certainly seems even riskier than going for the kill himself. After all, the clone seems awfully confused, gets questioned by cops, and doesn't even accomplish his mission initially, barely wounding the Sean Penn creature. In fact, instead of having to kill "just" the bird, Henderson gave himself the additional task of getting rid of the renegade clone as well. Not the smartest cookie, this scientist - and this is not the only example of his ineptness.
For example, the whole escape thing. The megasoid being extremely violent, (allegedly) extremely intelligent and extremely illegal would surely mean that Henderson would keep him somewhere SAFELY, right? How the hell could it escape! Because the groundskeeper mistakenly opened a door?! Because Henderson had kept it in his damn basement like a pet instead of safely caged? The details of the escape aren't elaborated upon, but there is no doubt that Henderson is quite confused.
I do like the idea of these temporary clones being illegal and allowed to live only a few hours - when they had been in use i.e. Legal. It's a decent concept that is a sort of small precursor to "Blade Runner".
However, the bird looks stupid, resembling not only Sean, but being like a close cousin of the Birdman from the episode "Second Chance". I wouldn't be surprised if the same alien costume from that episode had been re-used, altered only slightly. The megasoid chicken might also be genetically connected to the inept bad guys from the Japanese kiddie sci-fi "Prince of Space".
The megasoid shows incompetence rather than skill and brilliance during his rather feeble escape from the Zoo/museum. The encounter between the bird and the clone was poorly scripted and directed. Generally speaking, the dialogue is somewhat uneven, meandering between stereotypically mediocre and solid.
Nor do we understand how the hell this bird managed to sneak from Henderson's cellar all the way to the City Zoo without getting shot, or at least spotted. Unless it can fly very high, there is no way it could do that. It appears to be a flightless chicken though... A flightless Sean that growls yet has the voice of an older woman: TOL's special-effects department must have been partaking in those early LSD experiments...
More logic holes come up when the clone phones up his "own" place, which leads Henderson's wife to find out about the cloning, which definitely wasn't planned, just as it wasn't planned that the clone attracts so much attention to himself. Speaking of plans, how did the real Henderson plan to get rid of his clone? He had admitted that he couldn't bring himself to kill his own clone. Why did the clone's creator wait so long to tell his client Henderson that the clone was set for destruction by midnight? (Obviously so the writer could thrown in a very dramatic plot-twist in the finale.)
What did the megasoid do with the stuffed megasoid he replaced in the Zoo? We are given to understand that this bird is of superior intelligence, but its ability to roam the city unnoticed proves not his smarts but that the writer is somewhat sloppy.
A glaring script error is that Henderson, who had studied the megasoid for two years, didn't realize that bullets wouldn't kill him, at least not easily and in small number. Some scientist, huh? The guy keeps this thing as a pet, and studies it for years, yet he had never bothered to read up the literature on how to kill one of them - just in case. I mean, considering how dangerous it is, and all... It took about ten bullets to finally kill the feather-brained bird.
The megasoid didn't display any above-average cunning. Far from intellectually superior. Both of his attacks on the Hendersons were clumsy and oafish, not at all thought-out or smart, both resulting in bullet wounds. He might as well have been an escaped ape, except twice as large, which is why his unnoticed roaming is so absurd. A dumb bird that got lucky, NOT a superior alien.
I like the fact that the premise tries to balance two very different themes, the hunt for the renegade loony chicken and the self-discovery of a confused clone. An unusual combination which sets this episode apart from the others, all of which are more linear. I am glad that the clone drama plot somewhat overshadows the monster-hunt plot.
Genocide is treated as less than a misdemeanor in this story...
A very original set-up: two scientists create a miniature artificial replica of a distant planet, an isolated "model" planet on which time is programmed to move at a rate many times quicker than our own - in order to get quicker results with the evolution of the planet's life-forms. Now, while this may be a unique idea, it brings with it a few far-fetched absurdities: these guys being actually able to tweak gravity - and especially their ability to control the flow of time by speeding it up - essentially means they possess god-like powers. With these powers they could rule the world (and beyond), nevermind waste time on a comparatively unimportant scientific project.
Nevertheless, this could be construed as science-based nitpickery because this is after all pulp sci-fi; a rather balanced, good mix of real science and pulpy, fun, mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science. As good sci-fi should be.
There is some shaky logic also about why they'd picked this particular planet to replicate, and how they can even call it a replica when it is too distant for them to be acquainted with its exact conditions. The scientist himself admits that the planet is too far to be observed directly hence "the information we have is second-hand". This implies that the miniature replica and its conditions are based on a rough estimate, nothing more. Which further begs the question: if they have such tremendous powers such as control of gravity and the ability to speed up time, WHY bother with a specific planet? Why not just pick any desired conditions to create a model of a non-existent planet, just to be able to learn about evolution? Or accelerated evolution, in this case. Predicting whether a planet is suitable for colonization - using such a vague experiment that may veer off totally from the evolution of the real planet Dundee - is nonsensical.
A more blatant disregard for science i.e. A more blatant pulp-like shtick is the fact that the model planet is evolving pretty much exactly like Earth, even including "the 19th century" which implies that this miniature world has their own Jesus too! That is an extremely far-fetched scenario, to put it very mildly. The likelihood of getting the same outcome in a lab in replicating history - which involves millions of years of evolution and just as many uncontrollable factors - is practically zero. This is 100% pulp fiction, very cheesy. As I often said before, this kind of ultra-far-fetched, corny premise/twist works very well in a comic-book anthology such as "Weird Tales" but not on the screen, where more realism and logic are expected - simply because movies are a much more realistic i.e. Less stylized/idealized medium than comic-books.
The plot slows down a bit around the middle, when the scientist's wife witnesses the same bizarre creature (well, a low-budget ghost-bat thingy) as the two scientists had. We'd already had their reactions to the discovery, so witnessing her reactions and hearing her comments too is just unnecessary repetition of what we already knew.
O'Neal's decision-making, upon realizing that "the creature is dangerous and is gaining in power and strength", is illogical. Instead of hiring MORE people to act as security in case the ghost-bat starts flexing its bat-muscles, he first sends his wife away and then even his only assistant. His motives are noble, i.e. He does this to protect them, but it makes a lot more sense to start hiring additional staff instead of turning into a hermit. After all, the ghost-bat could be potentially dangerous to the outside world, not just the people in and around the desert lab.
When the investor and the assistant come over unannounced to check on him, he reacts aggressively, as if he'd started morphing into yet another cliche mad scientist. This is a pity, because done solely so there can be more danger i.e. Tension. In other words, this is the kind of writing decision that places tension and drama above logic. Since O'Neal is extremely dedicated to this project i.e. Finding out "what Earth's future will be like" through this experiment, it makes no sense for him to endanger the entire project by opting to go one-on-one against the mysterious ghost-bat thingy, instead of just doing the smart and practical thing - which means hiring extra help.
The creature's behaviour isn't entirely logical either. Clearly, this is a powerful, intelligent being, and yet it gradually kills ants, birds, and hamsters (i.e. All of the lab's test critters) which shows a lack of caution. If the ghost-bat knew it was being observed then WHY would it warn the humans of its malevolence BEFORE it got powerful enough to kill them too? Logically, the creature would want to fake civility instead, if anything, to deceive its "captors". If it had done that, it would have avoided defeat and destruction.
Hence it must be stupid.
In the end, O'Neal is predictably attacked by the evil force, so he instructs his wife to shatter the glass thereby killing the creature - but also every single inhabitant of the mini-planet! I can get past the fact that O'Neal somehow knew how to kill the ghost-bat. What I can't accept is that he had no qualms about DESTROYING an entire civilization!
Then, to make things truly ironic and almost comical, he concludes the episode by uttering these silly "poignant" words:
"Dundee isn't a planet where we can land our spacemen. But the project is feasible. A planet can be recreated in a laboratory. (Now comes the punchline...) The odds are that the next time it will be a place of warmth and love, LIKE OUR PLANET EARTH."
This is amusing on so many levels. Not only is this a rather Disney-like description of Earth, but O'Neal had just DESTROYED an entire planet of humanoids, animals and plants! That's hardly "warmth and love", is it... Even worse than that, neither O'Neal nor the narrator even mention this sudden genocide, as if the laboratory planet were inhabited by toys instead of actual living creatures.
In that sense, O'Neal is the greatest murderer in TOL's history - and yet he isn't even considered to be a bad guy!
The narrator mentions the idea of the multi-verse, that our own universe may be a speck of dust in some vast collection of worlds. It's rather interesting to hear this theory being mentioned in a 1965 sci-fi TV show.
Despite the obvious logic flaws a very good episode.
Among the best 5 episodes.
I could easily list some flaws, but they aren't nearly bad enough to ruin the entertainment value of this episode or to impede its refreshing originality.
I'll still list them though, coz that's what I do...
For example, the invaders lacking communication devices which would prevent them from having to shout to each other throughout the building like a bunch of hillbillies on a mountain - which allows Culp to know their whereabouts. Or the fact they use common pistols. Or that they wear their medallions around their necks instead of in a safer place where they can't be torn off by the enemy Culp. Or that they needlessly volunteer so much useful information to Trent. (Serves as exposition too.) Or that the Latino woman falls in love with Culp in a matter of hours. Or her annoying pacifism, that actually makes her show mercy toward the Khybans - an actual reluctance to kill these aliens, despite the lives of 70 billion humans being at stake and the future of mankind. Yes, she is that thick; a true proto-SJW. Nor do we understand what she's even doing in this supposedly abandoned building.
Speaking of which, I like the fact that the entire episode takes place in a high-end, deserted building. The mystery is resolved gradually, finger by finger, which is clever and fun. The final plot-twist is great. The dialog never gets too cheesy. The casting is good, and as annoying and absurd as the woman's pacifism is (70 billion!!!), the actress does a good job and is fairly attractive.
Ellison actually predicts future computer technology by allowing for 70 billions humans to be electronically stored on a small piece of wire (which I am sure Soros is fantasizing about as I write this), which must have sounded like an insane idea back in the 60s. I mean, it is still insane, because we're talking about human storage here, not just random data, but still... Perhaps this was not his idea, but kudos to him for having the balls to use it, because it must have seemed utterly laughable to 60s audiences. "How do you keep 70 billion people on a small string?! We can't even fit aunt Peggy into the outdoor toilet! Hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha hee hee hee!"
Storing so many people on a small device would certainly solve the problem of overpopulation. Wouldn't it be a great idea to store half the Chinese and Indian populations, "sending" them into the far future, in a sense... Let the Futurama characters deal with them. A billion and a half new Frys to re-educate.
This story may have even served as the inspiration for the "Terminator" movies because the premise is so unmistakably similar. In fact, odds are solid that it is. Or, perhaps this is yet another 50s comic-book story stolen by a TV writer. Or in this case, by a renowned sci-fi author.
One of the very best episodes, this one avoids cheesy monsters and stupid, generic solutions.
Well-acted, with decent dialogue, but too much of a murder mystery for what TOL is - or what it should have been. Not to mention that it's a mere reworking of the overly recycled "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" story.
Or the fact that it was obvious early on who the killer was. Certainly the fact that he had very ugly Picassos hanging on his walls were an indication he may be an empathy-free hipster, if nothing.
It isn't clear at all why Clinton was planning to "kill thousands more", as he put it. I mean, not Bill Clinton; we know he'd happily do away with far more than that, but why the character Dr Clinton would have the need to assassinate so many people makes very little sense. As a supposedly highly evolved mutant he should have been smart enough to realize that leaving a huge trail of blood would inevitably lead to his capture. Not to mention that their scientific team can't possibly have that many enemies; not even close.
I can accept the generic plot-device that a special brain serum makes Clinton ultra-intelligent (obviously, not Bill), a master hypnotizer and even that it turns him into a psychopath with a completely different personality. What I find way too far-fetched is his new-found immunity to being shot at from close range, numerous times. The serum may control the brain's potential, but how the hell can it alter the most basic principles of biology and physics?
Somewhat iffy also is the fact that Clinton the Hyde plays his cards so stupidly and recklessly in the end, effectively proving that he may have gained far more arrogance from the serum than intelligence. Perhaps another parallel with Bill...
A highly unprofessional astronut is NASA's only hope... Wut?
An astronaut (not an astrodummie this time, thank God, at least not entirely) returns from Venus, and finds himself suddenly reacting strangely to normal temperatures. Venus, of course, is an extremely hot planet so I'm glad they got this right, because it'd be ludicrous if he found himself sweating excessively upon his return i.e. The opposite.
Of course, it's a little goofy that there can even be a debate i.e. Any uncertainty over whether Venus is a habitable planet (since not even machines can survive the temperatures and pressures there), but that isn't a real criticism because this is just a sci-fi story. Admittedly, in 1965 they did know about Venus being a hellish planet, but they picked it over Mercury or Mars anyway.
What is a little more iffy is that the Mars mission, which is up next, will again feature Shatner as the explorer. NASA can't find any other men they can send? Shatner's the only one capable of flight in a tin can? NASA sends GENERALS into space? Why didn't General Schwartzkopf attack Iraq from space then? But this too is a very minor point, and not any major criticism. Nor am I going to make a big stink over the fact that NASA only sends a single-man crew each time, which is far riskier than sending a proper crew. Judging from the aircraft, they could easily have crammed one more person in there, a move which would drastically improve the odds of mission success. (Though I do realize the writer chose this option because otherwise there might not be a story, or it would be too complicated for a 50-minute format to include another crew member.)
What is more troublesome is that Shatner lies to his doctor that he is "regularly examined by his (NASA) medics" which means that not only is he a big fat liar (just like the real Shatner, funnily enough: there's some realism for ya!) but he isn't getting any follow-up check-ups. It takes his WIFE'S urging to finally discover the changes such as the low temperature!
Why is he even withholding so much information from his bosses? He doesn't even tell them about the strange creature he has in his visions.
The WHOLE POINT of a manned mission is to INFORM the scientists and engineers of EVERYTHING you'd gone through, not keep silent about things, otherwise they could have sent a chimp instead, or even better - a robot. (A robot programmed to tell the truth, i.e. An anti-Shatneric android.) I don't understand how a serious professional astronaut such as this guy could possibly expect to be approved for the upcoming Mars mission if his health was so dodgy and if he was proven to be dishonest and secretive. This make little sense. Wouldn't Kirk, I mean Shatner, be concerned about his own health - precisely because he so badly wants to fly to Mars? His behaviour is highly unprofessional, given the circumstances and not very intelligent either because so reckless. His personal physician advises him to get checked by his "space doctors" yet he refuses to do this time and time again. Even after he starts turning into an amphibian he still doesn't turn to his NASA team for help and advice! Unlike the other minor issues, this is a major script problem.
As is his knocking out of a security guard.
Nor does it make sense that Kirk "disregarded procedures, disobeyed orders and went off course" - which is why he disappeared for those crucial 8 minutes. Why NASA would spend millions sending such an undisciplined man to Mars is beyond me.
Shatner: "Right then he understood his purpose, it was to lead to new worlds, to new life..." where no man had gone before?...
This line isn't the only weird similarity to "Star Trek". The mission to Mars is called "Project Vulcan". It isn't impossible that Roddenberry had seen this episode while casting for ST hence decided to make Spock a "Vulkan".
Or how about "you are going at 20,000 feet, repeat - 20,000 feet." An intentional allusion to the famous TZ episode?
The fact that Project Vulcan is completely reliant on Shatner is utterly absurd. The NASA people and the military say that the project wouldn't be possible without him. So are lead to believe that one man is engineer, program chief, rocket designer and astronaut for a space mission??? You frigging kidding me? No space mission is reliant on just one astronaut nor ever will be, except in pulp fiction. Space exploration is a huge team effort, not some one-man-genius extravaganza.
Also illogical is his wife's insistence that the project not be postponed unless absolutely necessary. It makes no sense that this dedicated wife is even slightly interested in the Mars mission considering the extreme situation her husband is in. I mean, he was morphing into an alien being, yet she is worried about the next mission not getting funded! Which next mission? The one he would head as an amphibian alien crossbreed?
Eventually, all it took for Kirk to be fixed is to undergo a sort of "emotional exorcism" of sorts, after which he starts reverting back to normal. It's rather absurd that he is sent to the important meeting with project investors while still with amphibian hands.
Let's recap. This great hero disobeyed orders which lead to a Venusian alien implanting him with its own DNA. Then, upon returning to Earth, Shatner fails to inform his bosses of crucial info, refuses to go to his medical team until the very last moment... Yet, somehow, Project Vulcan can't do without him? I believe he'd betrayed the trust of his colleagues and superiors enough to be banned from any future missions. Get him a desk job already, frcrrsakes...
Don't be mislead by the title. It has nothing to do with the story. They could have literally slapped this title to almost any other TOL episode, because it's so vague.
One of the most eccentric episodes, not mainstream at all, experimental even to some extent. Starts off very weird, as if in an alternate world, but gradually lands down on Earth and this is when the flaws start showing up.
There is a stark discrepancy between the two male antagonists and the two female protagonists. The men are badly cast, especially McCallum who is one of the blandest, dullest nepotists in the history of TV and cinema. His role is far too unusual to be played by such a non-descript delta male. The role of Andre is also filled by an actor of questionable ability, who'd already failed to impress in another TOL episode. Even worse, neither character make much sense. McCallum brings Andre back to life for no reason whatsoever - despite knowing that Andre is a danger to the two beautiful women who had just entered the house he's in. The hell...?
Andre himself makes even less sense, almost no sense at all. He might as well be an alien from another dimension. Starting from his absurd reckless driving in the opening scene, and all the way to his DISINTEREST in the "scientist" who brought him back to life, nothing Andre does is realistic, none of it makes sense on any psychological level. He is an egomaniac and a psychopath, and as such his natural reaction should be to immediately kill the women who poisoned him, or to at least threaten them with violence, or abduct them. Instead, he almost ignores one woman, while continuing his affair with the other - as if nothing had happened! Andre snickers all the time as if on Bolivian mushrooms, and it gets old quickly, because what's he got to snicker about? Because he got duped by the women? Never get a character to laugh all the time, it always comes off as annoying and stupid, not to mention when the character is as badly conceived as this.
Essentially, we are given to understand that Andre neither cares that he was killed nor cares that someone just discovered a method to bring him back from the dead. He is just plain disinterested, very chill about everything; far too disconnected from reality to make him a relatable i.e. Real character.
McCallum goes back to the house, points a gun at Andre, promises to kill him - then turn his back to him. And of course Andre - being so utterly relaxed and insane - doesn't even try to disarm him. He doesn't even appear angry. He disarms him later, but because McCallum is also irrational and illogical in every way, he doesn't even try to stop Andre. McCallum was intended as some sort of a mad scientist or something, but comes off as a random moron instead. It isn't clear whether he is a scientist or just some shluck who lucked out with the time-warp discovery. (As Ed Wood might say: "he STUMBLED upon this ingenious invention".)
On the other hand we have the women, cast wonderfully with two beauties, especially Vera Miles chews up the scenery with her poise and elegance, kind of like a (much) more intelligent-looking version of Grace Kelly. Both women are far more logical and consistent characters, to boot. Their behaviour is much more grounded in reality, which happens to be absurd in this story. In fact, they are normal which is too much of a stark contrast to the men who seem to be in an entirely different movie, in another dimension.
The story starts very well, with great style, mood and intrigue but unfortunately dissolves into too much nonsense. It's as if Stefano had tried to make the story too weird for its own sake. (If you go weird then go full-on weird, don't compromise too much.) The scene when Miles jumps out of the car and then Andre crashes into a tree is simply ludicrous, an example of almost random writing.
Don't let the TOL fanatics fool you: this one's among the best 5 episodes.
The title of this episode alone must annoy so many sci-fi fans. What, not "Monsters From Galaxy Z-X"? That's the kind of title which is a LOT more appealing to them.
There are good (financial) reasons why so few sci-fi stories tackle the fascinating subject of quantum physics: the shallowness, cluelessness and lack of imagination of most sci-fi fans. The cliche belief that sci-fi fans are science geeks of above-average intelligence who have a big interest in scientific concepts is a fallacy. Most of them are just as daft as almost any other fan-base. That this unique episode is rated so poorly here is just additional proof of this. Quantum physics offers a plethora of potential plots, but because goofy aliens aren't part of the quantum equation sci-fans don't want them. This is as sci-fi as you can get, for TV at least, yet it seems that sci-fi is of little interest to sci-fi fans. Just one of many absurdities, contradictions and paradoxes in this moronic world.
The direction and especially photography are very good; there are several scenes that are unlike anything we've had in sci-fi before or even since. One of the most original and thought-provoking episodes that go SWOOSH above the heads of people who are sorely disappointed whenever green aliens aren't frolicking inside Area 51, whenever pudding-shaped blobs or chicken-faced monsters aren't the main antagonists in a story. The enemy is invisible and therein lies the swooshiness of the swooshy problem here.
The drawbacks are the sometimes dodgy dialogue, the overwrought acting of some of the cast, and the inability of these characters to stay away from radiation: over and over the scientists and their wives are volunteering/insisting on going INTO the danger zone as opposed to going in the OPPOSITE direction, that is to say to run AWAY from danger.
Which part of "the radiation levels are extremely high" do they not understand? Nimoy defies orders and barges inside the room, stupidly claiming that so-and-so "seems to be doing fine" despite the absurdly high radiation levels that colleague had already been exposed to. Then another group goes in there, then the guy who played the moronic astrodummie in "The Invisible Enemy" actually goes back inside the death chamber (for unknown reasons), and then even the non-scientist wife of an already dead researcher goes in there too!
The way these knuckleheads were disregarding the dangers of radiation, I figured very soon we'd have a thousand people turned to quantum zombies in no time! That'd be the only truly glaring silliness in an otherwise interesting story.
A great premise marred by daft aliens and needless relationship schmaltz.
If you are a fan of TOL I am fairly certain that you always skip the opening scene spoilers - unless you know an episode inside-out.
However, that may not be enough in this case. The inept narrator stupidly informs us WHY the aliens are abducting the humans, and it's a classic bonehead move by writer Stefano because it eliminates a big component of the mystery. So if you haven't watched this episode yet, make sure you mute the narration after the first 2-3 sentences. (Then again, if you wanna avoid spoilers, why are you even reading this text!)
Without this terrible flaw, this could have been a much better episode.
Great direction and mood. Except for the dumb decision to film Ralph's goofy make-up from up close.
Early on, there is a soap-opera scene involving a marriage break-up because, as I mentioned often enough already, the producers were too insecure not to gear the show toward women as well. If I were a producer of a horror sci-fi TV show you could bet your Arsch that there'd be zero romance or relationship nonsense in it. Polluting and diluting sci-fi with housewifey sub-plots is a travesty.
I mean, Jesus wept: aliens had just abducted this entire town yet we are subjected to the breakup dialog between a whiny yenta and her robot husband! Gimme a break. Then, just as the story finally goes back to the RELEVANT plot, less than a minute later we go back to the couple discussing their breakup, and how the wife wants to "better the world". Frfckssakes! Now she's Gandhi too!
In an early scene Wannamaker says "let's get him to the hospital". Get whom? The neighbour had disappeared just a minute earlier.
Later on he says, "we have no advantage over them except mobility". Yeah, well, that's a big advantage. That's like saying we have no advantage over our basketball opponents except that we are a meter taller on average". A lot of these aliens can barely move and you humans can all run. Not a bad advantage, ey, Wannamaker?
The trouble with this episode is that the aliens completely - and without reason - reveal the entire plan to Wannamaker then actually let him go back to the others which is when he reveals this conspiracy to everybody. The aliens opt to do this despite having claimed beforehand that they don't want the experiment to be interfered with!
They also bragged about their allegedly incredible intelligence, yet they showed themselves to be fairly thick monsters; entirely naive and completely incompetent.
My guess is that Stefano, a sort of Serling of TOL i.e. The show's main writer but also the weakest one, lifted this idea from some pulp story or sci-fi comic-book anthology, but failed to adapt it to fit the film medium i.e. To make it more logical. For example, Wannamaker should have found out about the alien plan on his own - rather than get everything served to him on a plate which makes zero sense, and is a sign of poor writing.
Child protection agencies should have been involved from the start - or earlier even.
An interesting story of an alien impostor grooming a gifted boy to help his planet Zennon take over Earth.
Some nonsense though. The ease with which the alien weasels his way into the kid's home is absurd. A total stranger shows up uninvited into the home of this family - and within minutes the kid's parents actually allow him to spend time alone in the child's room with their kid! If all parents were this trusting i.e. This dumb, pedophiles and serial-killers would have a field day with children, and in fact Earth's population would only be a fraction of what it is now.
Finding the elevator empty may have been one of the many clues that should have forced them to question the stranger's motives. But what really takes the stupidity cake is the father's mild reaction to witnessing the alien dematerialize. Instead of going into full panic mode, or shock even, he simply goes to his son's room to question him about it, in a tone as if the kid had merely stolen food from the fridge or something. The guy doesn't even alert the authorities! Only later does he finally check with the government to confirm his suspicions that nobody was ever sent to tutor the kid. And only THEN does he finally show some panic, some fear.
Predictably, the government suit doesn't believe him, which makes one wonder WHY doesn't he simply go to the police for help instead. He later decides that calling the police would be futile - yet that a "showdown" (as he calls it) with Zeeno would be wise. No Parents of the Year awards for this couple...
That's the trouble with these sci-fi stories, that they force the main characters to make irrational and stupid decisions, just to keep the plot moving in the desired direction i.e. To avoid resolving the conflict prematurely i.e. Before the 48 minutes are up. Why would he want a showdown with an alien with superpowers?! Was he going to admonish him? Scare him? Appeal to his "good side"? Absurd.
The twist was good, but the kid sparing the alien's life is yet another example of utterly mindless pacifist Hollywood bull. Zeeno was about to force his father into suicide, AND worked on a conspiracy to invade Earth which would have killed billions - yet you're feeling MERCIFUL toward him???
Besides, what better message to send to the invaders not to mess with Earthlings than a human child killing one of their amphibian morons! We are given to understand that the Earthlings would now have a weapon to repel the alien attack, yet there is no guarantee that anyone would believe the kid, hence the wisest solution by far would be to kill the bastard. To play it safe.
Btw, the intro serves as a spoiler, yet doesn't show up in the episode.
A very Bond-like, villainous alien laughs a lot while pitting a randomly chosen Earth couple against a lizard couple. The winning couple earns the right to stay alive - with the small bonus of saving their planet from annihilation.
Sounds familiar? This must be where "Star Trek" writers got their idea for the legendary "Arena" episode. In fact, not only did ST steal the concept of a superior alien civilization pitting one representative against another in which the winner gets to save their respective ships, but even Kirk's opponent in that episode happens to be a lizard-man just like these here. AND the alien in this episode called it an "arena". Blatant, shameless theft. Show-biz people are nearly all liars, thieves, and egomaniacs.
Nevertheless, "Star Trek" did a better job than TOL with this premise. Perhaps colour and a bigger budget helped.
As so often with TOL (and other such sci-fi/horror TV series), the first 15 minutes are quite good but then the story starts getting drawn out, and the dialog gets more and more silly. Once the plot moves into the forest, the plot disintegrates: bad direction, unconvincing action scenes and situations, and just general tomfoolery.
For some reason one of the lizards kills its partner - in order to have a food supply advantage i.e. To starve out their opponents. This seems a far-fetched strategy because not only were the lizards very eager to start the duel i.e. To get violent (as opposed to play a game of patience), but then there was also no reason for the remaining lizard to attempt to kill the woman - as that would automatically cancel out the food advantage if he had succeeded.
Speaking of which, the lizard only managed to lightly wound the woman with its boomerang, and yet a little later the woman actually killed the lizard with that same weapon. The chances that this city secretary - whose greatest previous adventures had been to go shopping - is able to deliver a lethal blow with a weapon she'd never used, and in the first try, is too minuscule to take even vaguely seriously. The lizard is clumsier with his own weapon than the human female? That's rich. Nice try, script...
What an illogical alien race that doesn't force others to fight in the arena (they get the option to reject the "offer") - yet are brutal enough to destroy an entire planet of the losing team. Wouldn't it make a LOT more sense to enslave the losing planet and play MORE of these brutal games there? Instead, stupidly, they destroy entire worlds with which they could have fun for centuries.
However, this is basically pulp sci-fi as most TOL episodes are, hence nit-picking is optional.
One of the strangest episodes, somewhat Kafkaesque. The first 15 minutes are the most effective. The rest is interesting too, but the disappointing thing is the fairly predictable theme of love i.e. We know almost instantly that the creature's "missing ingredient" is love, which is so bloody cheesy.
This leads me to the other flaw: the very forced, unrealistic romance between Drifter and the (average-looking yet supposedly beautiful) girl. Finding himself trapped in a bizarre house created and run by an evil alien creature should have had him in full panic mode (which he was in, to a limited extent) and yet our hero finds the time to instantly fall in love, which is far too corny and undeserving for such a unique premise, not to mention absurd.
I would have preferred for the story to unfold in a more unpredictable, unusual way, just as it had started. Alas, these were the mid-60s, and it was television - and housewives needed their schmaltz. The only problem being that they didn't want their schmaltz dipped in science-fiction (just as I don't want my science-fiction dipped into schmaltz) which is one of the main reasons TOL was canceled after only two seasons: catering to female demographics within a male genre is way too optimistic and usually not doable.
The direction is very good. One of the most unique episodes.
This future NASA is run worse than a ghetto kindergarten.
So to mutate means to gain instant god-like powers, huh?
In that case, why aren't there any such mutations on Earth? Humans, plants and animals undergo mutations continually, have been doing so for billions of years, yet not one single solitary specimen has ever acquired even one god-like power for even a second, yet this one mutant gets several - just because he is on a distant planet.
I call this phenomenon "the exotic factor privilege" or "the distant galaxy bonus", a staple of cheesy sci-fi. In other words, the rest of the universe is susceptible to all sorts of forms of magic, whereas here on little ol' Earth magic is impossible, or much more rare. Grass is greener and all that... in sci-fi terms.
I know that this is just cheesy sci-fi pulp, but they're laying it a bit too thick. Oates the mutant not only reads minds, he kills by touch alone - and not just kills but entirely dematerializes a body. For all practical purposes he is a god, not "just" a powerful alien mutant thing. I half-expected him to start flying, to stop time, and to create black holes on a whim.
In the realm of fantasy fiction, there is a real problem with giving the antagonist(s) too much power, because they logically shouldn't be defeatable. Especially this one: he can easily detect any conspiracy aimed at harming him, hence he can instantly punish the "guilty". This means he is undefeatable, hence we have no story, hence there is no real point to all of this.
Nevertheless, even before the episode reached its half-way mark I knew he would be defeated, and because of what I previously explained I knew he'd have to be defeated in a dumb and unconvincing way. Because that's what happens when you set up a story this way: you have to break your own logic in order to move the plot in the usual, cliche way.
Which is what happens. The laughably far-fetched ploy is to hypnotize hunkman so he can forget whatever he found about the dangerous, telepathic mutant. However, the obvious logic hole is that Oates could find out about the hypnosis itself by reading the midget's mind. Yup, one of the scientists is a quasi-dwarf. No idea why the casting director considered this a wise choice. "Reese": the choice of word to de-hypnotize hunkman is idiotic. Choosing the antagonist's name as the "code-word" is just plain asinine. Out of a million words/names to pick from? These people aren't scientists, they are morons.
For some reason, the writer of this hooey thought it clever to suddenly have Oates dedicated to saying AND hearing his own name (which he achieves with a dodgy plot-device), which in turn leads to a laughable scene in which Oates/Reese actually SUSPECTS dwarfman of hiding something just because he isn't addressing him with Reese! This is the kind of plot-device or shtick one uses in comedy, normally.
In the end, they beat Oates by sheer dumb luck - through Oates's bafflingly illogical decision to venture inside the dark cave, instead of just waiting for the couple to come out, which eventually they would have to have done. Unless there was a Swedish buffet waiting for them in there with supplies for the next 30 years. This is unconvincing and poor writing because it means that the supposed hero savior actually contributed nothing to freeing/saving the colonists; Oates basically undid everything himself, which begs the question why he didn't self-destruct earlier. Hunkman ended up being a mere observer rather than an active participant and liberator, hence his arrival merely precipitated a series of fortunate circumstances (aside from the murders) that lead to Oates's demise. Hunkman's hypnosis plan failed, and he had no plan B, so I guess plan C - the writer's plan - had to be put into effect. Plan C is to let the heavy ruin himself.
I found it absolutely ridiculous that the newcomer:
a) arrived alone to inspect a fishy situation,
b) didn't know about the protective glasses, and
c) just happens to be the ex of the (very small) colony's only female. (An actress that looks crap btw, which doesn't help either.) Naturally, the writer just HAD to find a romantic angle to bore sci-fi fans with, once again. Because what is a murder investigation slash space exploration story without the subject of penis and vagina? A pile of nothing - obviously. At least according to lousy Hollywood writers.
Yes, in a way I am glad that TOL was canceled after just two seasons. Perhaps a just punishment for catering too much to housewives - plus leaving the writing to people not sufficiently committed to sci-fi. The several conversations between hunk and his female are both stupid and dreary.
And what a smart investigative hunk, huh? "Suicide is always accidental", he says idiotically. Some shrink he is... Yeah, people simply trip over the sides of buildings, accidentally fire bullets into their own heads and purely by chance obtain cyanide and stuff it into their drinks. The leading cause of death among victims of "accidental suicide" is slitting yer wrist - but only because knives accidentally fall on wrists. Happens all the time.
Several of the premises are very dodgy. A distant planet with perpetual daylight that requires glasses at all times is actually deemed suitable for colonization? Yeah, millions of volunteers must have been breaking down the doors of NASA to populate this dump.
The basic premise of Oates keeping the newcomer alive is shaky too. Instead of worrying so much whether anyone will betray Oates by telling everything to hunkman, why not just kill him instead? Or, since the writer claims Oates needs human company and slaves, why not simply destroy or sabotage the rocket?
There is also a strange illogic in Oates preventing the crew from escaping the planet when he became a mutant. Instead of stopping them, why didn't he simply join them? He was after all seeking for a cure, and on Earth finding this cure would have been far more likely. Considering his god-like powers he could have easily bossed around everyone at this future (incompetent) NASA.
A messy script clumsily directed makes for a crappy episode. Even the narrator seems confused as he blabbers some meaningless piffle about man needing to solve insanity first before starting to colonize other planets. Good luck with that! This is the kind of almost random non-sequitur mumbo-jumbo that many intro and especially outro narrations in TOL consist of.
Somewhere in the ballpark of "Village of the Damned" sans the invasion plans and with no children but adults instead. The fact that the aliens have no plans to invade or to populate Earth is the only original aspect to the story. The rest is fairly generic. The cockamamie explanation the monster gives for the aliens inseminating the five women is fairly silly hence unconvincing: some mumbo-jumbo about these aliens from Eros (you read that correctly) losing their goodness and soul (or something or other) hence being unable to produce any more male children - which is why they tested their sperm in a different climate. Vague nonsense of an explanation, implying that morality influences the sperm count. If only that were so!
What a dumb name for a planet. Eros is also the name used for Ed Wood's infamously cretinous aliens in "Plan 9".
Some daft lines too, such as: "Killers? We are not killers, we don't have the power to kill, only the power to destroy. We don't kill, we uncreate".
Or: "Our sense of hearing allows us to hear a homing device. We can hear the sigh of a star."
Or: "What chance would anyone have with a soul in YOUR world?!"
Too many silly idealistic speeches too, such as this one at the end - which actually brings the other four men out of hypnosis. So why were they hypnotized and the 5th one wasn't? And why do they never say a word?
Read my reviews of the entire series on my "The Outer Limits (1963-1965) - All Episodes Rated & Reviewed" list.
Starts very intriguing but then falls apart due to padding and total lack of logic.
Possibly the most confusing episode; eccentric and somewhat reminiscent of a David Lynch movie. If Lynch had made a TV episode in the 60s, and had a low budget, this is how it may have turned out. His movies are similarly bizarre and nearly always nonsensical.
Certainly this plot is just as full of logic holes as Lynch's random, unfocused scripts (which deluded hipsters interpret as genius).
The story starts in a very intriguing way (yup, like Lynch), but then comes to a halt almost, padding itself out all the way until the half-way mark. The tedium caused by this 20-minute section crushes the tension substantially. The insane old ex-bride gets way too much screen time, while she jabbers mostly boring nonsense and gives us very little info, too few hints to help us solve this amazingly muddled, undisciplined script. Yes, she's insane, we get it! Get on with it! Stefano hammers home her insanity as if this needed hammering i.e. So much convincing. The actress playing her is utterly dull and uncharismatic, plus she hams it up in a way that is overly theatrical and generic. Essentially she does a cheesy, annoying imitation of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and/or "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte". The young couple is similarly bland and uninteresting. Between the three of them, there isn't much to sustain interest.
Eventually, after a long while, the plot finally resumes, culminating in a finale that raises more questions than it offers answers - but not in a good way.
Who the hell sent the box to the wedding? For what purpose? The narrator blabs about "evil" as if that can explain away why an old geezer brought that box over to the wedding house. How is the groom's father connected to the aliens? Clearly, he is connected, but how?
But much worse are the questions about the imprisoned groom. Why didn't he simply LIE to the alien that he would help it destroy the universe? Certainly Balfour succeeded in this instantly: he and his daughter got out of the box easily and quickly i.e. Were released by the blob due to his deception/promise that he would help it, and he almost got away. He would have survived had he not stupidly hesitated. But hey, he had to be killed so we could have a happy ending, because he is the token evil capitalist.
Not only did this simple lie work, because the blob apparently doesn't know about deception(!!!), but it decided to annihilate itself too hence solved the problem. So why didn't it annihilate itself much sooner? What changed the creature's mind that the wait was no longer worth it? The blob exists outside of time and space so why not wait a trillion years more if necessary? It turns out that the imprisoned groom is a complete and utter imbecile for spending decades trapped inside the box without ever trying to deceive the rather gullible blob. He spent all those years with it yet still didn't realize how easily dupable it is? It never occurred to him throughout the decades to try to get out by lying?... Not so much an idealistic hero and saviour of mankind as he is just a plain class-A buffoon.
How did the aging old bat KNOW about the alien, the box i.e. The whole end-of-the-universe story? The only way she could have known is if she had been trapped herself, yet this isn't possible because how would she have escaped? The blob only explains the situation to people who get trapped in the box.
What about that wheelchair-bound old woman? Does she regularly send over couples to the deranged old bat? If so, does she know about the alien? If not, WHY does she send them over there? Why is her husband reluctant to have the couple sent there?
WHY is the future i.e. Present accompanied by constant wind, giving the FALSE impression that that some kind of (limited) Armageddon had already occurred?
Last but not least, WHY would the blob be so utterly daft as to promise "freedom" to every prisoner - when the end-result is death if they help it destroy the universe? If you refuse to help the alien you remain imprisoned, but if you help it then the universe is gone anyway and you along with it... so why would ANYONE choose to help the blob? The blob would have to understand this - unless it is a total moron, which it seems to be. If destruction of the universe hadn't been the issue but something far less important, then maybe there would have been a real choice for each prisoner.
The episode could have worked, even with all these glaring holes in the script, but only if it had been done as a very stylish feature film and directed and presented in a somewhat abstract way, sort of like "Eraserhead" (Lynch's only brilliant absurd movie). As it is, it mostly fails as a story, because far too confusing and nonsensical. However, it doesn't fail as a genuinely weird episode with some very original ideas.
The worst episode, involving a large mutant frog. Incredibly boring and dumb.
Quite possibly the worst episode. Incredibly tedious garbage, a cheap "Revenge of the Creature" knock-off, or whatever the first fish-frog B-movie is called. We've even got a Latin dictator in the story, though I couldn't tell you why. Nor can I offer a feasible explanation why the movie's marine biologist shows zero excitement after his team fish out the stupid frog. Admittedly, this may be a sign of intelligence, that he refused to believe that this shitty prop was an actual fish-frog. It must be tough to act and react to such lousy costumes. But, of course, this was the director's fault mostly.
Naturally, there's an absolutely mindless, boring, needless, corny love-triangle, because, hey, let's get some of that lovey-dovey female demographics to help out with the ratings.
It's amazing that the show's fans actually gave this crap a rating higher than 4. In fact, much higher. Even good horror films often don't get 6,2 yet they dish out such a good rating to this junk - and just because it's part of their favourite TV show. Damn, how I hate fanatical nostalgiacs...
Several dumb plot-devices aren't enough to ruin this.
It's very typical that the ratings average is so low for this episode. Plebeians need their cheesy monsters, hence struggle with any story that is half-way intelligent or attempting originality, or handles the science aspects of the story with any level of effort.
The first half-hour is very good, in terms of plot, acting and dialogue, it largely avoids the pitfalls of B-moviedom hence has no major flaws. Unfortunately, the writer couldn't resist using an idiotic, ultra-generic plot-device such as sabotage, and man is it a dumb example of sabotage or what: the silly, unrealistic character that's Mrs. Harper's sidekick (what exactly is his purpose? Since when do psychics need assistants?) throws a random tool box (that just happens to be conveniently lying around) onto some electric circuits that just happen to be located beneath them, cutting off power from several generators, interfering with the experiment.
Questions: how the hell did the two charlatan goofballs get inside the plant?! Is there really no security in such places?! During very expensive, elaborate, major experiments especially?! How the hell did this stoopid lackey even know how to ruin the experiment with what can be perfectly described as practically zero effort! "Oh, I guess I'll just drop this box on these here thingumabobs and that will screw up the generatorabob. Hey, there's a toolbox here! That'll do." Just like that. WTF.
An even more crucial question: WHY did the writer feel this stupidity was necessary in the "dramatic" sense? The experiment was HIGHLY dangerous as it was, i.e. There was absolutely no need at all to add "tension" to the plot. No need at all to make the experiment's outcome even more uncertain. But there you go, Hollywood writers are suckers for laying on BS upon unnecessary BS because they are so insecure about their not being enough CONFLICT in the story. Some writers are so obsessed with there not being enough "conflict" that they go to great lengths to create too much "conflict" hence burden the stories with excessive nonsense.
Still, the finish is interesting, and the episode survives this idiotic monkey wrench of a dumb sabotage attempt without too much damage.
Read my reviews of the entire series on my "The Outer Limits (1963-1965) - All Episodes Rated & Reviewed" list.
Nevertheless, we never really find out WHY the millionaire financing the experiment was TRANSPARENT in one scene, in the 30th minute to be exact, while standing next to the scientist, and why nobody noticed this, not even the scientist he was talking to. Perhaps this was an error brought about by a script change and the subsequent lack of funds or willingness to re-shoot the scene. Certainly there was zero logical reason for him to be transparent i.e. Affected in any way by the experiment at this early stage.
The narrator mentions "the power of love" in the outro. Rather cheesy and needless. This story wasn't about love, at least not primarily. But that was typical of TOL, these silly attempts to bring the show closer to housewives.
Thick main characters struggle to make sense of a messy script.
Yet another hopeless 50s/60s writer who makes the mistake of allowing the audience to always be a step ahead of the protagonists. Instead of keeping things mysterious, we are immediately informed that NORCO are murderers which makes things far more predictable henceforth, and of course less interesting. The only thing left for us is to wait for the protagonists and the cops to put 2 and 2 together which predictably takes too long, not least of all because the scientists's brother is such a moron. It is blatantly obvious after the guard's warning and NORCO lying to the brother that NORCO must be behind the surgery, yet this cretin can't seem to figure out anything. Waiting for knuckleheads to put 2 and 2 together is indeed a very stupid approach to storytelling.
Then there's more senseless padding during the cop's mostly boring investigation. We already know who the guilty party is, so half the episode is us impatiently waiting for the cop to finally discover what we already know so that the plot can finally move on beyond being a mere murder investigation mystery - which SHOULD NOT be the point of a series such as TOL.
About this NORCO boss... What the hell was his plan? To keep killing people and/or turning them into his undead slaves until inevitably the jig was up?! Such a dumb strategy, very obviously doomed to fail eventually. The fact that NORCO's boss speaks like Bela Lugosi (the actor playing him is American) only makes things cheesier. He literally does an imitation of Lugosi in the grand finale. This actor was already unconvincing in another TOL episode; he's just bad.
The experiment itself makes no sense either. NORCO discovered some kind of energy monster which they keep locked up in a room and occasionally release so it can... kill people so the mad scientist can implant pacemakers on them, so he can control them... which will achieve... what exactly? The explanation given is totally vague and unsatisfactory. There is a very unclear connection between the monster and why the scientist keeps all his staff as pacemaker slaves. Simply put, it's utter BS: it's there just as an excuse to turn this episode into yet another needless, generic mad scientist story. Somehow in these dumb pulp plots every scientist that makes a huge discovery instantly becomes evil and insane, and this is somehow supposed to serve as a valid excuse for his irrational behaviour, which conveniently allows the writer to put together a daft story.
The female secretary is nothing but a totally irrelevant prop, serving no purpose but to help stretch the story out through a totally useless romantic sub-plot, involving the brother who isn't even a factor in the last 10 minutes. I guess there must have been a concerted effort to get women to watch TOL which I am certain didn't work, because sci-fi has always been a male domain. (Awful Star Trek spin-offs are an exception because they have so many soaper elements.) This must be the reason why the producers so stupidly threw in the occasional "love theme" and romance in many episodes, which only served to dilute the show. Attempts to please too many different demographics usually results in failure: stick to your target audience, because there isn't even a theoretical possibility that for example mindless, low-tier housewives are going to become sci-fans just because you add some bloody romance in a monster story.
We never find out WHY the first guard was killed by having the monster go out into the park. We are later told that it's difficult to bring the monster back once he is outside hence it made zero sense to kill the guard at the gate rather than just destroy his pace-maker, or force him into the room where the monster can kill him with ease, without the hassle of having to bring him back to the room. Damn, these B-movie screenwriters are lazy nitwits... Do they ever even re-read what they'd written? No re-writes?
The aliens in "They Live" were much better planners...
A body snatchers story, except that this one involves ROCKS. A fairly cheesy premise, but kind of fun, or could have been. Unfortunately, it's too predictable.
Culp tells his colleagues that the voices he heard were weird, and yet they weren't weird at all.
Each human taken over by the rocks changes appearance very noticably, which leads me to the obvious conclusion that these goofy aliens pose no real threat to mankind i.e. Every zombie would so obviously be identifiable as possessed that their cover would be blown by their appearance alone. This is the story's biggest logic flaw, and a crucial one.
Nor does it make sense that Culp's infected colleague found him and his wife so quickly and easily. How did he know where they were hiding? No explanation. Stupidly enough, we anyway know she'll be possessed because that's what the show's idiotic spoiler tells us right off the bat. Of course, I always skip the spoilers but may go back to the intro later just to check which scene they'd picked.
The episode suffers from padding, i.e. All that romantic nonsense around the middle. I am referring to the dreary and useless 6-minute section once the couple reaches their hideout.
Well-directed and moody, solid dialogue for this type of story, but the plot is mediocre.
Read my reviews of the entire series on my "The Outer Limits (1963-1965) - All Episodes Rated & Reviewed" list.
Good dialogue, a decent premise, convincing characterization, and a competent cast start off things very nicely. However, around midway most of that goes out the window because the episode turns into a stupid switcheroo thriller. In other words, the audience knows everything, we are ahead of the story, so all we have left is to patiently wait for things to play out in the usual predictable switcheroo-thriller way.
It's boring and annoying to know so much of the plot in advance. I never understood the point of that. These kinds of thrillers (and just thrillers in general) are for people who don't like being challenged by a story in any way that might require analysis and intelligence. The thriller genre is anyway one for the less intelligent or lazier viewers.
Usually TOL has the opposite problem: a unique premise but ruined with lousy or mediocre execution. It's a pity such a good cast, including the very charismatic and pretty Sally Kellerman, is wasted on such an unimaginative mid-twist, on a hackneyed plot. The first 15 minutes or so are very good but after that it's mostly for the dumpster.
Some logic problems, but they don't ruin the interesting premise.
One of the episodes that steers clear from generic, nonsensical, kiddie sci-fi that was so prevalent during this era, but instead offers a more layered story with a "what if" type of premise. Traveling back to the past to fix something - or to save the world in this case - isn't terribly original, wasn't probably even in 1963, but the way the story is constructed and presented was unusual for its time, and is helped by the good acting and mostly convincing dialogue.
Sure, Landau's ability to hypnotize others into perceiving him as he chooses is a clunky plot-device that allows him to travel back into Earth's past without becoming a side-show freak, and there is no rational explanation offered for this supernatural ability - except the flimsy implication that this is a beneficial side-effect of being a 22nd-century leprous mutant.
Also, the astronaut's ability to go back to the past with his ship is fairly dubious, considering that he didn't even know how he got to the future. Nor is it quite clear why he dies whereas Landau doesn't.
Nor does it make sense for Shirley Knight to follow Landau into the forest right after his armed intrusion at her own wedding. Even less logical is the fact that the groom didn't follow her to make sure she is alright - because she'd just gone to find the man who attempted to murder someone.
It takes far too long for the posse to find the couple, which means they weren't in a particular rush, by which time they are too late. Landau and Knight fly off into the future, because somehow she'd managed to fall in love with him in such a short period of time. (Admittedly, we aren't told how long Landau had stayed in the past.)
Another problem with this forest segment is that he is very vague about his mission, yet Shirley doesn't ever pose the obvious question that anyone would have done: "What the hell are you talking about?!" He was being very evasive and cryptic about his intentions, which would have caused any person to ask him to explain exactly what he is trying to accomplish.
Now, while on paper all these flaws may sound drastic, they aren't. The story is believable because the characters and their interactions largely make sense. If they didn't, then these other flaws would have been far more obtrusive.
A more minor point, because it isn't directly related to the main plot, is the unanswered question of what had happened to the flora and fauna of the future: did it too get devastated by the deadly microbe? The desolate landscape on Landau's future Earth resembles an alien planet hence we have to assume that the microbe brought devastation to all forms of life, not just humans - in which case Cabbot, Jr should not only be prevented from being born but his parents should be drawn and quartered. If I were Landau in this exact same situation I would have killed both without a second's hesitation. I'd have completed the mission in a jiffy! (In fact, killing one of them would have been enough, so I would have chosen to shoot the soldier, obviously. So I can bed Shirley? Why not. Nothing wrong with combining work with pleasure. And a little opportunism can't hurt.)
Of course, we couldn't expect Landau to be a cold-blooded killer the way I would have been in his predicament, otherwise what kind of a hero would he be?
The notion that a "man who was never born" saved the future of mankind (and possibly that of flora and fauna, which is far more important) is intriguing. Earth's ultimate hero - a person nobody would ever know even existed. Unless, of course, Shirley made it to the future safely, on that rocket ship. We don't find out whether she made it back safely or not. We know she can't fly a rocket (which Landau had managed, for some reason), but if the rocket was fully programmed to go on auto-pilot that would have meant that she safely reached the year 2148, in which case what would she have encountered there? And would Landau have received the recognition he deserved?
This story could easily have a sequel, but it would stray a lot from the original story.
Read my reviews of the entire series on my "The Outer Limits (1963-1965) - All Episodes Rated & Reviewed" list.