Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lost In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

Irwin Allen's 1960's TV series Lost in Space doesn't get a lot of respect.  I can understand this.  It can be very silly and juvenile with episodes about space hippies and a carrot man, but it could also sometimes be scary. Well scary to a little kid, and scary in a fun way that wasn't bedtime nightmare material.

For Halloween I thought I'd take a nostalgic look back at a show I'd religiously  watch weekday afternoons on our local UHF channel, and pick my three top scariest Lost in Space episodes...

Season  Three
Space Creature 
Original Air Date: 11/15/1967

Or an alternate title might be called "A Special Trip Into the Power Core" which is a lower level of the Jupiter 2 never shown until now.

Our story starts when blueish fog envelops the Jupiter 2, and one by one the Robinson family start to mysteriously vanish. When I re-watched this episode I was stuck by how completely terrifying this situation would be, but while concerned, Space Family Robinson pretty much take this all in stride. 

At one point a there's a horrible pounding sound as if a giant it trying to smash its way in to the ship.  The sound effects in this sequence sound a lot like the loud supernatural pounding in 1963 haunted house movie The Haunting.

Will makes an attempt to find the missing members of his family by searching the power core.  It's clearly labeled "Danger Radioactive Area," but Will doesn't bother with protective gear.  It's possible his space-age purple velour provides protection against deadly radioactivity.

Will first enters a warehouse space where the Robinson's store the food and other supplies.  Hopefully their food is protected against radiation contamination by those space-age cardboard boxes.

Eventually Will climbs down a ladder to the power core...

Not 3 Wills, but 3 frames stitched together

... and this panoramic shot above clearly shows how spacious the area is.  It's hard to believe the Jupiter 2 was large enough for such a sub level.  It makes me wonder if Lost in Space lasted for another season we might have seen some sort of attic-like level.  Much like Dr. Who's Tardis the Jupiter 2 is larger on the inside.

Anyways when the Robinson's disappear they end up in a kind of foggy limbo, and meet a grey sheet ghost, a.k.a. the Space Creature, and the one responsible for bringing them here.

Here's grey sheet ghost close-up. The ghost speaks in an extra deep voice provided by actor and VO artist Ron Gans.

Back on the ship Dr. Smith is possessed by the Space Creature.  Jonathan Harris gives a great evil performance here, and at one point even strikes Will.

Ultimately Will has a confrontation with the "Ghost" in the power core. Without giving too much away, there's themes from classic Sci-Fi film Forbidden Planet at play here. Will stands down the ghost who takes a tumble into the power core...

... and appropriately explodes in a nice sparkly blast.

The haunted house-like elements, and the vanishing family make this one of the creepiest LIS episodes.

Now for my favorite part of this post.  Through the courtesy of Hulu I'm able to embed the entire episode below...

Season Two
The Astral Traveler 
Original Air Date: 4/12/1967

When caught outside by an unexpected storm, Dr. Smith and Will seek refuge in a nearby cave...

... that just happens to have a dimensional portal which looks like a revolving door accented with Christmas lights.  Naturally, Will walks through the portal without any apprehension.

Will is transported to what appears to be a Scottish castle on Earth.  To this viewer, the castle appears to be stock footage.

Within minutes of arriving a horrible seaweed monster who shrieks like a banshee shambles out of the water towards Will.

Will is stupefied by the sight of this horror.

Will runs away, but the seaweed nightmare give chase.  The shrieking of this creature is non-stop, and really quite chilling.

Will is able to lock himself behind a sturdy castle door.  The creature relentlessly pounds and shrieks on the other side.  I'm sure Will now regrets walking through that revolving door.

Luckily the creature is lured away from the door Will is hiding behind. Will meets a friendly "ghostie" named Hamish, and learns the seaweed creature is his Uncle Angus who can be pacified by playing the bagpipes.

Dr. Smith caught in mid faint.

Later in the episode when Dr. Smith get an eyeful of "Uncle Angus" he promptly faints.  Dr. Smith is a notorious coward, but this is a completely reasonable reaction to the sight of this monstrosity.

Now dare to listen to the terrifying shrieking of Uncle Angus for yourself by watching the episode below....

Season One
Wish Upon A Star
Original Air Date: 11/24/1965

This episode starts with Dr. Smith at odds with most everybody for basically being a jerk.

There's an alien space shipwreck behind all those spooky trees.

Dr.Smith takes a self-imposed exile in hopes to gain sympathy.  Luckily he finds the wreck of an old alien spaceship in the middle of a haunted looking forest.  Well, the haunted forest part isn't so lucky I guess.  I'd be wary of the alien spiders that created all those webs.

Even more lucky is the discovery of an alien "thought machine" that can materialize almost anything user can wish for.

Soon Dr. Smith is living the good life with the help of his wish machine.  The set of the skeletal wrecked spaceship looks like it's made of crumpled aluminum foil and cobwebs.  This is something that would have looked awful in color, but in B&W it looks great.

There is only one flaw with the machine - it can only grant two wishes a day, and this causes problems once Dr. Smith brings the machine back to the Jupiter 2.

Penny and Will get into a tug-of-war with the machine over who gets to use it next. This is were the episode gets bogged down with a lot heavy handed moralizing courtesy of John Robinson. Lighten up John, you have an honest to goodness wish machine here.  Think how useful it would be if someone should ever need life saving medicine.

Anyways Dr. Smith finally crosses the line when he wishes for a personal servant, and the original alien owner appears to take the machine back.  The alien's entrance is great as a creaky door slows opens and he steps out of the shadows.

This alien is scary with a face that looks like a ball of oatmeal, and makes an awful muffled moaning sound.

The alien moves really freaky also.  It has a stiff legged walk, and keeps the palms of his hands facing outwards.  I know this sounds kinda hokey, but it works. It's very classic horror movie monster stuff.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Once again enjoy the full episode of Lost in Space made available by Hulu. The scary alien make its appearance near the end...


Anonymous said...

Excellent picks!

I wouldn't argue with your choices at all. I would only say that I would consider the episode "Blast off Into Space", specifically for the scenes where the "cosmonium" brings Dr. Smith's rock sculpture to life – it's a lot like the creature in "Wish Upon a Star". It's only one creepy section of a non-creepy episode though.

Your picks are the top though!

Swifty the Spacebird said...

Space Creature everybody escept will starts to disapear and we finaly see the Jupiter 2 third deck the power core and food storage THE ASTRAL TRAVLER that seaweed monster was the ghosts long lost reletive


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