It’s that time of year when ghouls and goblins are about, and watching scary tales a holiday tradition. Yet, my friend and author John Kenneth Muir reminds me Halloween doesn’t require stories steeped only in witches brew, or a cauldron, for that matter. Something on television from long ago, from outer space, will do just nicely. His look at the one episode from the classic The Outer Limits series, which gave me nightmares as a child (watching and cringing directly behind my grandmother’s couch in her living room, mind you), fits the bill.
“What I appreciate most about The Outer Limits, and the reason why it remains worthy of extensive study and remembrance today, is the fact that each episode of the series is shot in exquisite and expressive horror-movie fashion. This episode opens, for instance, with an establishing shot of a sign reading “Restricted Area: Do Not Enter,” which raises viewer anxiety and fear. What’s behind the sign? What’s behind the fence?
As a book-end to this mysterious opening shot, “The Zanti Misfit’s” final composition reveals anothersign, this one cast-off on the ground, disordered and revealing the name of the desert town: “Morgue.”
Of course, the hotel and surrounding lands have been turned into a literal morgue, at least for the Zanti…so the sign transmits, with much gallows humor, a sense of truth. The bottom-line is that this TV drama from 1963 features, in some important ways, a deeper sense of classic film style (and film grammar) than many of the major motion pictures produced today.”
Posted earlier in the year, it’s a fine piece on the out-and-out unnerving allure this fifty-year-old plus segment holds to this day. The Zanti Misfits, written by the great Joseph Stefano, an episode I assure you every Outer Limits fan knows full well. I recommended JKM’s article1, then heading over here to watch those damn things crawl down the walls, and into your head, online. If you dare, that is.
“Our privacy must be maintained.”