Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Influences: The Outer Limits: "There is nothing wrong with your television set."

Influences come from everywhere. One of the earliest influences in my life was when my parents used to watch science fiction and horror shows and movies and I was allowed to hang out and watch as well...and run screaming from the room on occasion. I’m not kidding: I remember walking in on a movie called, The Hideous Sun Demon, just as the title monster made its appearance, and hightailing it outta there like common sense at a GOP gathering. I sometimes wonder if my parents laughed as I did this, but have never inquired.

Which brings me to the original The Outer Limits series. The stark black and white look and monster-of-the-week theme, all with intelligent if often quite wild scripts, kept me riveted, fed my brain, fueled my burgeoning imagination. I know a few of my stories are modern takes on that old series via setting, mood, or simply as they played out in black and white in the cranial cinema as I wrote them. I love the nefarious institutes or military complexes on the outskirts of town, the subtle invaders whose motivations often get expressed in manic manner by those under their spell ("The Invisibles" rant is a classic example), the skewed ideals that get even more skewed as they fall apart, the human element that is the glue that holds the stories together, and the monsters, of course, to name a few prime topics.  (Don't all kids have a love/hate thing with monsters?)

Tonight I ate my dinner to an episode called, “It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork,” in which a cleaning lady at N.O.R.C.O., a physics research center, sucks up a dust bunny (okay, it really didn’t look like a bunny, more like a blob of dust road kill) into her vacuum cleaner, it feeds off the energy and becomes something of sentient force. People die but are brought back to life via funky pacemakers controlled by this sentient energy beast.  All hell almost breaks loose, but is finally contained...for now.  

Here's the episode, there's many more on YouTube and Hulu.

It was an entertaining and thought-provoking series, especially to an always curious young boy intrigued by weird stuff.

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