Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It Crawled Out of the Woodwork

Production Order #18
Broadcast Order #11
Original Airdate: 12/9/63
Starring Scott Marlowe, Kent Smith, Barbara Luna.
Written by Joseph Stefano.
Directed by Gerd Oswald.

Something big, bad and powerful is causing a ruckus at the NORCO Energy Research facility. Professor Stuart Peters (Michael Forest) shows up for his first day of work at the plant, younger brother, Jory (Marlowe) in tow. Peters soon falls victim to the energy creature and Jory tries to find out exactly what's going on.

PE: Cthulhu in a Hoover! Unusual in that our first scene is actually our first scene, not a glimpse of the bear to come. Perhaps, since it included the bear, the producers felt they didn't need the teaser this time out. The flashy smoke monster effect works good for me. Pretty simple design but very effective. My memory's bad but didn't they use Sparky's cousin a few years later for the film version of The Dunwich Horror?

JS: It's certainly more effective than the traveling storm cloud in "The Man With the Power." I recall hearing about a vacuum cleaner monster in The Outer Limits, which I quickly realized was not an appropriate description. It was really more of a dust bunny-monster or lint trap escapee. Of course any self-respecting cleaning lady would never try to vacuum up something that big, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief in this case.

PE: Scott Marlowe (who was all of 31 when he filmed this) is the oldest looking 20 year-old I've ever seen. Aside from that distraction, I liked most of the performances. Marlowe and Forest look and act like brothers, have an easy-going  comradery. Their showdown in the hotel bathroom is nicely handled.

JS: I had a problem with the kid brother routine based on their look as well. The dialogue made them sound like kids. And some lines just don't work. Like, "Come to think of it, I am independently wealthy." Or, "I've been with him every day. Except for a week." And another favorite, "If he'd been in any better health they'd have given him a morning show on television." I'm thinking Stefano might have been in a rush to crank this one out.

PE: It's tough for me to watch Ed Asner in anything and not think of him as Lou Grant. Here he takes a bit of time to warm up but by the time he shows up at NORCO (to investigate solo!) he's on top of his game.

JS: I didn't think of him as Lou Grant—I actually picked up a bit more of a Martin Balsam "Arbogast" from Psycho vibe. A similar disbelieving interrogator, I guess.

PE: The idea that the victims of Sparky die and are resurrected, kept alive only by their pacemakers, but seem to retain their humanity (in most cases) and truly despise the evil they're forced to hide and bow to, is a refreshing change from the cliched rising dead, floppy and braindead.

JS: Was pacemaker technology that primitive at the time? Jeepers creepers you're liable to get fried by someone thinking they're adjusting your horizontal and vertical hold.

PE: Lots of effective jumps in this episode. One, when Stuart is flipping the matchbook in his hand and we seamlessly switch to Doctor Block's (Smith), doing the same. Later, Jory (Marlowe) comments to his girlfriend, Gaby (Luna), about his brother Stuart's "nice smile," which cuts to Stuart's corpse, face fixed with terror.

JS: A nice rigor mortis shot. It reminded me of dead spider Bruce Dern from "The Zanti Misfits."

PE: The set-up fooled me into thinking Professor Stuart Peters would be our main protagonist but, reminiscent of the Thriller episode, "Man in the Cage," my expectations were wrong and his brother, Jory, becomes the focus not long into the show.

PE: Two scenes in particular stand out for me and both take place in "The Pit." First, frosty Professor Linden locks Stuart in, allowing Sparky to ingest him. It's a truly frightening moment, highlighted by Staurt's silent scream. Later, Linden attempts the same on Detective Siroleo (Ed Asner). The claustrophobia of the hallway and the sheer terror (and awe at the same time) on the cop's face are beautifully staged and shot. An OL Classic Moment, I'd say. Asner's mad dash towards the door after seeing Sparky is a thing of beauty.

JS: Speaking of things of beauty, we get an interesting, almost Jennifer Tilly-esque performance Barbara Luna as Gaby Christian. Heck, she even looks good in silhouette.

PE: We finally have a legitimate nomination for OL Babe of the Week: Barbara Luna!

PE: Detective Siroleo (Ed Asner) has a fatal case of the sweats. This could be due to the big time Jones he develops for the Ice Queen herself, Professor Linden.

JS: Are you sure it wasn't from the fear induced by Doctor Block? Did that Mad Doctor routine with the Transylvanian accent really fly in the 60s? He sure got one hell of a second wind after being shot.

PE: Good finale. Our survivors manage to get the cat back in the bag but we know it's only a matter of time before he gets out.

JS: David J. Schow's latest novel, Internecine, features a shout out to this episode through the inclusion of a clandestine organization called—you guessed it—NORCO.

PE: According to the IMDB, this is the last work Joan Camden did in the biz. It was the second appearance for Camden in OL (she played the Vice President's wife in "The Hundred Days of the Dragon")


David J. Schow on "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork":

From The Outer Limits Companion, Copyright © David J. Schow, 1986, 1998.  All Rights Reserved.  Used by permission and by special arrangement with the author.

Be sure to check back later today for Gary Gerani's Spotlight on "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork."

Next Up...


  1. Uncharitable know-nothings love to refer to this installment with yuck-yuck derision as the "vacuum cleaner monster" episode, yet, like the equally derided "tumbleweed monster episode" (Season Two's "Cry of Silence"), there is a ton of midseason OUTER LIMITS richness waiting here for those with the patience and perception to "get it."

    Solution: Delete the prologue ... and not a damned thing changes.

    To further my comparison of "Woodwork" with Stefano's mandarin writing duties, I abruptly realized upon watching this show again last night that for Stefano, writing whole episodes in a weekend, typing on a manual typewriter in a moving car with a board on his lap, and other sacrifices were exactly the sort of labor that could make him "sleep in the daytime" unaccountably -- as happens to Jory, who can't explain to Gaby why he simply crapped out in the hotel room.

    I am further chagrined to observe that Stefano was only 41 when he tackled THE OUTER LIMITS.

    Cripes, we need to get busy!

  2. Is an obsession or fascination with "The Outer Limits" an obsession with death? It's really staring you in the face with many of these episodes. I'm starting to worry about my former childhood. Sure, I loved me some Edgar Allan Poe, but the death themes in this series are starting to make him look like Dr. Seuss.

    Ed Asner sells the horror in the pit beautifully (beautifully?). When she finally frees him, he's out of breath panting with fear and you are THERE with him. It's fun to read DJS' comments about how he enjoyed "The Sixth Finger" and was chomping at the bit when he got the call to do the show. He delivered.

    Herr Dr. Block keeps a photo of a nuclear bomb behind his desk like a beloved family photo. Is his character a nod to the former Nazis who helped America further develop (perfect?) the bomb?

    The sfx here are still pretty effective. Did any other show exhibit this type of ingenuity week after week?

  3. I liked this episode; it struck me as more horror than SF, with the zombies and reanimator plot. Three zantis.

    The double sided dvd with this episode refused to play on all the players I tried it on. As the unhappy customers on often found out, I kept getting the message "bad disc". This box set needs to be redone and done right without the crappy double sided discs. Lucky for us Hulu is available and plays OUTER LIMITS for free.

  4. DJS-
    Amazing to me that anyone really would accentuate the vacuum cleaner connection. This is one of only a dozen or so of the OLs that I never saw, so I was assuming, since this was the "Vacuum Cleaner Monster" ep, that the thing would keep coming out of a Hoover! As you say, dump the first scene and there's no connection. It's like calling JAWS the "one where the police sheriff buys the 'No Swimming' signs."

  5. I find it hard to compare "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" with "Cry of Silence" but we'll get to that.

    We might call this style over substance (unless you're hip to Stefano's subtext, which is fascinating--and also makes for a terrific entry in the DJS tome), but there's richness here and mood so thick you can vacuum it. And what style--man, that held wide shot of the lab at the end; how long did THAT take to light?

    Once again the Stefano/Oswald/Hall team (STEFOSHALL) delivers some nifgtmarish Gothic sci-fi.

    John: Re: teaser--she would definitely vac hose that sucker. It is a lab after all, she must know the cooties factor.

    Speaking of teasers, did anyone mention how curious it was that yesterday's did not show a Zanti?

    Three Zantis here for a tense, gripping and scary entry. Looking forward to Gary's Spotlight.

  6. "nifgtmarish" is either Scottish or German for nightmarish.

  7. Gotta Spotlight coming up, but here are a few tidbits I missed… Tidbit #1: Inexplicably, the recoiling cleaning lady isn't engulfed by her accidentally-empowered dust ball, because she survives long enough to tell someone where It came from (as Prof. Block reminds us). Might’ve been a cool macabre touch to show Mrs. Clean again in a throwaway shot, still doing her vacuum cleaner thing at the center, but with the hint of a pacemaker under her uniform. Tidbit #2: Love that opening narration! Instead of a pithy overview of science and the wonder of infinite possibilities, we get a short summation of a boring guard’s boring job – only to be told that we’re witnessing the last few minutes of this guy’s life! Wow. Seriously twisted, especially for 1964. Finally, Tidbit #3: Since I’ve been making a case for “Woodwork” being one of Joe Stefano’s psychotherapy sessions in disguise, guess it’s inevitable that the story’s villain would be named after a certain persistent nemesis, that other writer of PSYCHO (“…but I changed the ‘h’ to a “k”!”).

  8. Jaws? Isn't that the one about the skinny-dipper murderer?

  9. If only all the OL episodes started out this way. The crackling thunder and spooky noises that played against the backdrop of the cleaning lady, going about her business, set the mood perfectly.

    Unfortunately, Marlowe's performance kind of ruined this one for me. What a dork his character was. Definitely undeserving of our OL babe of the week, Barbara Luna. I know we got a couple eps. left, but I don't see her being beat.

    I might have a sick sense of humor, but am I the only one that got a laugh out of the close-up of Stuart's corpse? His facial expression was sort of funny.

    Still, the bear in this one was pretty intimidating. Containing the dirt beast was a nice change instead of the usual extermination of the creature. I'm glad when Ed Asner was calling this caper in to headquarters at the end, he wasn't hung up on, with whomever he was talking to on the other line thinking it was a prank call!

    2 and a half zantis.

    1. Guess I share ur sick sense of humor. I laughed as well at Stuarts face.

  10. As soon as the dynamic dust bunny bit the cleaning lady i was hooked. This was one of those bears that, while simple and pretty dated in its image, didn't look like a reject from some Krofft puppet show. Hall outdid himself with all the noir lighting and tilt-angle framing -- i just loved how he shot Block and his hands during the killer's monologue!.
    Luna gets my thumbs up for this week's hot babe. While DJS seemed to feel (in his book article) that the story was a tad thin, i felt it had a perfect balance of matter and flow for a 48-minute thriller. It was zowie!
    I watched this before the tepid and dragged-out Borderline, so maybe that increased my enjoyment?
    Nine zantis...

  11. Title that would make your mundane friends shake their heads? Check. Cold War nuclear-power cautionary screed? Piously noted. Lab full of Frankenstein's Monsters, lit by Victorian gaslight? Now you're talking---bring it on!

    This somberly toned, lovably wacky collection of surreal conceits, images from a fever dream, and reanimated dead and wannabe-dead characters is captured and shaken into a shadowy swirl by that TOLy Trinity of Stefano-Oswald-Hall.

    As kids we knew it was, above all, "different." Different in the best sense of stories that broke the dramatic pattern we were jaded by on TV. Full of images seemingly created just for the sake of audacity: the spontaneous generation of an energy life-form from a dust buffalo (too big for a bunny); the strap-on pacemakers; the jigsaw-puzzle smoke monster; the scared-to-death, shocked-to-life premise; the Pit, with its interconnecting Tunnel of "Arrrgghhhhh!"

    This episode is all about morbidity as a way of life. Laced with mordant dialogue: "If a coroner's report can ever be said to be 'funny'." It conjures the look and feel of living side-by-side with imminent death.

    Dr. Block (good call on the "Bloch" variation, Gary G) is like a dweller in shadow, who only emerges long enough to pose under a portrait of Armageddon, or to loom close enough to cup the lens in a distorted, low-angle shot ("Yes...I AM a Mad Scientist"). Or to hover in lewd dominance over Prof. Linden with a line like "Strict rules don't sound as strict when they come from the lips of a beautiful woman."

    The idea of employees having "no families," to avoid complications with the sudden pacemaker implants, is nicely engineered to contribute to the Peters' dysfunction. Stu would just as soon be rid of Jory anyway, though it's unclear why Jory is such a cling-on.

    The whole Jory character becomes an odd appendage, functionally abandoned halfway through, as we pick up on the new thread of Sgt. Siroleo. Jory shows up at the end meaninglessly, as if to breathlessly gasp, "What did I miss?"

    Barbara Luna is undoubtedly a TOL babe to be reckoned with, but she functions as little more than a wall off which Jory can bounce his dialogue; a girl "with nice legs [who] ought to be dancing."

    A word on Scott Marlowe's TOL appearances: As we'll see later, this guy, with his smarmy delivery, somehow is nothing so much as chick magnet. Whatever "it" is, he seems to have it. Here he cold calls a gorgeous L.A. TV personality and in five minutes lands a dinner date. By the next day she can scarcely stand to be away from him for five minutes. And this pales beside his sexual dominance in a future episode.

    These pacemaker-puppets would spend a lot of time sponge-bathing, I'd guess.

    Some chilling transitions and shock cuts in this episode. The musical stab helps to sell the "that smile"/that GRIMACE segue. The matchbook-turning change of hands from Stu to Block quickly advances the story. The "Police Headquarters?" cut is a nice jolt. And I like the act-closing moment with Block's off-screen voicing precluding Siroleo's escape with "Go?... Where?"

    Never thought about what a stark departure the opening CV commentary is on this one---thanks, Gary. The hovering-death metaphor is introduced right out of the...gate (couldn't get myself to give it up---sorry.).

    DJS' COMPANION commentary really nails the film's central absurdity. Block's revolutionary life-restoring pacemaker ought to have been good enough to score him a patent that might have bought some energy creation research.

    The LAB/PIT buttons, while not in the same Dr. Zarkov Science Manual class, do make me nostalgic for the old FORWARD/BACKWARD lever.

    Niggling structural problems...bold flouting of
    science...Toly Trinity...

    Two-and-a-half Myrmecoid lifers.

  12. The hits just keep coming, as OL enters its "Golden Age". Ted's post above nails most of the fascinating elements that make this episode so outrageously demented and nightmarish.

    Never mind that this hi-tech, super-top-secret facility's front gate is always wide open and guarded by a single old dude sitting in a folding card-table chair...this is some pretty intense stuff!

    Stefano comes up with another wild and wacky thriller, this time only SLIGHTLY undermined by his "TROUBLED INDIVIDUAL" du jour, Mr. Scott Marlowe. This annoying habit of Joe's (he was in therapy/analysis at the time, right? so it seems obvious that he's using these specific neurotic characters to "work through" his personal demons). Fortunately, the Jory character is MUCH less intrusive than Olive Deering was in "Zantis", since we follow so much of the drama alongside Scott Marlowe as we go.

    ONLY TO FIND (as Ted points out) that he's not the real leading man/hero after all!---it's Ed Asner (in a damned good performance) who carries the weight of the drama from Act 3 on. So here's poor Scott, all stressed out near the end of the show with his honey at his side in the car...and he JUST CAN'T MANAGE TO MAKE A DECISION on his own...(Man, I hate it when that happens...) So he screws up his courage, stands on his own two feet and........ ?
    saunters into the lab, where the real heroes (Siroleo and Prof. Linden) have just saved humanity, with this "gee, did I miss the party?" air about him, turns, and walks out--- in a "meaningful" way, mind you.


    I shouldn't complain, since 90% of the script f"""n' blazes with originality and audacity; I just wish Joe would have cooled it with these tortured personal sub-plots, which continue to detract from the impact of most of the scripts from here on in. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good "personal transformation/redemption" drama as much as the next guy....but it's got to be done right.

    BUT---WE ARE NOW IN TOL's "Golden Age", and I recall fondly the enthusiasm and comraderie that the "Thriller" blog engendered as we all entered THAT series' late-first-season high point. Enjoy it while you can, guys.

    (Hey---what happened to Lisa? wonder why she's dropped out of view? I enjoyed her comments).


  13. Jory's dangling story line is of a piece with the energy beast's climactic confinement -- his angst and self-loathing are left equally intact and pent up, and have nowhere to go except maybe into an unhappy marriage with poor Gaby (a pit if ever there was one). No way could they just evaporate; he saw his entire family die in a cruel succession of lethal bathtubs, and was robbed of the chance of forming mature relationships with them.

    This makes him as much a victim of the Conservation of Energy Law as the NORCO zombies, and proves Dr. Block's assertion that "there are no foolish laws" to be bunk, at least on a human emotional level.

    Stefano, man -- he sure knew how to land a gut-punch.

  14. Excellent comments, guys.

    Larry R: Wasn't the "Troubled Individual" pretty much a TV staple at this time? I'm thinking every NAKED CITY, BEN CASEY, DR. KILDARE, and Quinn Martin show yet to come (A QM PRODUCTION!). In fact, the long-running THE FBI was often about that troubled poor sap who gets mixed up with (Commies/criminals) and finds their life turned around or back in order because of it. Didn't THE FUGITIVE or the ROUTE 66 guys always cross paths with troubled folk?

    Why, it's the TROUBLED INDIVIDUALS that have kept American TV strong and made it what it was!

  15. LARRY (B) --

    ABSOLUTELY! But why try to shoe-horn them into a otherwise perfectly effective sf drama where they only serve to distract and dilute? Stefano started off by showing us how effectively he could do this sort of thing in the "Feasibility" slavery was limited to a single sentence uttered by the wife in an unhappy marriage, and when it reappeared, it almost seemed to blossom in the mind and heart of the husband, who simultaneously a.) understood and accepted his role in his wife's emotional plight and b.) understood the tragic/heroic path that he and the other earthlings must ultimately take.

    The character flaws were beautifully, seamlessly woven into the drama, all of a piece. Stefanos' mid-season efforts are heavy-handed and contrived by comparison, and nearly ruin several of these shows for me.

    If it can't be done really well, I wish the socially relevant jazz would stay where it belongs--in the shows you named. (I just watched a very sobering RT 66 episode with Inger Stevens and Beulah Bondi that was stark and troubling--with just a hint of sunshine at the end; it stayed with me for the next two days. I don't think it would have been half as effective if Beulah had been fighting off, say, an alien vacuum cleaner in between her encounters with Inger, Buzz and Tod (though she did begin one scene under an electric hair-dryer; hmmm..there's a thought).

    I don't know...maybe I'm too simplistic. I'd prefer that these teleplays remain relatively clean and uncluttered, without TOO much genre mixing. There's PLENTY to grasp as it is, without these "TI"'s!

    BTW, I think "nigftmarish" is actually Swedish.

    Larry (R)

  16. Thoughtful observation, Mark H., in re Jory's unpromising future of neurosis and wife-mandated cocktail parties. You're the psychologist---would he tend to find revulsion in silently soughing bodies of water; or would he himself entertain the siren-song of a watery grave? Of course, no psyche is so cut-and-dried predictable, or reducible to such pat analyses. I was just wondering how the poor guy might feel when gazing into a pool of water.

    Larry B.--- I think the "troubled individual" rests at the heart of any good drama. I like seeing (and writing about) how these people on psychic/experiential overload respond to an unexpected, preferably bizarre, crisis.

    A friend and I were just talking today about the blog and this very subject of "cypher" characters that has arisen as a significant side issue. I believe they're a dramatic staple. In TV at the time of TOL, they were frequently used as reluctant conscripts dragged into some gnarly situation when they already had personal problems aplenty (or absorbed one, if they fell into sympathy with THE FUGITIVE). Lazy drama simply gift-wrapped their nagging demons and the plot's thorny issues together in one neat and tidy package of blanket resolution. The more skillfully woven shows, like ROUTE 66, would find deeper subtexts and resonances and leave the viewer with more substantial ideas to mull over.

    I think TOL sometimes does that just as well, other times introduces interestingly complex characters and then abandons their resolutions out of concern for the larger picture. The result can be characters who are perceived as incomplete. Or curious visitants who parachuted in from some other show.

  17. I just can't agree, Larry R. I find these complicated players Stefano used to populate his weird dramas completely engaging in a way that well-adjusted, all-subtext-aside people could never be.

    These brooding-for-the-cheap-seats originals are part of what makes these occasionally demented concepts resonate for me. They're an inextricable piece of the fabric that can render a failed TOL something I nonetheless want to see again and again.

    I dunno. Maybe I sense them as representative of the chaos of everyday life, of how---alas---nothing works out so crisply as a well-tailored drama. They simply feel like testimonies to how the world is composed of an endless variety of people all wounded and twisted in their own wry way. They're always around to remind us of the incomplete victory in the averting of any Zanti war.

    And that warning about the ephemeral nature of complacency and solace is a genuine TOL hallmark.

  18. It's a fascinating show, this one.

    Watching it is like sitting in the middle of Stefano's skull, watching thoughts, ideas & images float by or explode in an almost surreal fashion; the supposed hero figure is cast aside, his stunted brother takes over but is self-pitying and navel-gazing (a rich trait in Stefano that works in 'forms' and 'the Invisibles' but here emasculates not only Scott Marlowe's character but his scenes too and is, when it doesn't work, as unattractive as Serling's preaching) who isn't the answer to this segment's dilemma. A formless destructive thing comes thundering from the id, a mad Germanic professor with control issues takes over (the projection of a father figure, maybe?) and bomb and death anxiety pervade.

    Stefano's gift was to allow the writers self-expression and TOL in this hot golden streak falls into two camps; brilliant, anxiety filled noir SF and a later camp that is deeply personal; surreal fevered dreamscapes that plunge and weave in Germanic expressionistic neuroses.

    Ed Asner and Michael Forest steal the show, and the scenes of them trapped with the devouring energy monster have a galvanising, primal horror.

    3 Zantis

  19. Ted: Wrong twin -- it's my brother David who's the psychologist, I just play one in a blog. He might see more hope in Jory's future; I'm not sure Stefano does. At the very least he leaves the poor sap in a really bad place here, Barbara Luna notwithstanding. Hope Siroleo had some field-psychiatry training...

    Good call on television's preoccupation with troubled individuals. To my mind "The Guests" has OL's most fully realized one, and his experience in the episode (which takes place in someone/something's head, if not his own) achieves the level of Route 66 subtlety you mention. Hell, he even drives a bitchin' car like Tod and Buzz...

    My beef with this kind of character in '60s TV is that, like Larry R. noted, just by crossing paths with a Richard Kimble or a Ben Casey or the boys from the FBI (!), they're "cured" of their troubles. Blech. Grim and un-soothing as Stefano's teleplays could be, at least he avoided that kind of half-assed trap.

  20. Mark--- Exactly! The usual pattern of vintage TV drama was the tidy wrapup of everyone's (generally minor, superficial, or topical) social problem or misunderstanding, along with the main plot concern. Claptrap!

    It worked, if all you were looking for---and let's face it, that's what most "casual" TV viewers claim to be seeking---was a quick escape to Happy Ending Land. But at some point you outgrew the use for facile endings and were hunting for something that harmonized your experience of the world with your taste in art.

    Why have you and your brother conspired to switch places in my cluttered (and now embarrassed) so-called mind? SORRY!

    You're spot on about "The Guests." I'm very fond of that oddball contemplation, too. And it's a sitting duck for viewers who are totally uninterested in the musings of the despairing and self-deluded when in the thrall of an alien monster.

    And who wouldn't be interested in THAT?

  21. Ted: No worries, people get us mixed up all the time. Here's a hint: David wears glasses, I wear contact lenses. That ought to clear things up...

    Can't wait to see the comments (and hopefully a spotlight) on "The Guests." And since it's missing the Control Voice intro and outro, I nominate John and Peter to take a crack at remedying that 45-year-old oversight. Damn, I might even pay to read that. Guys?

  22. For me, "The Guests" is significantly different
    from "Woodwork's" Jory problem, since its entire plot is built around life's oddball-losers, whose neuroses are an essential element in the attic glob's quest. Far from being an eyeball-rolling distraction for me, the "troubled-ness" of the characters in "The Guests" is absolutely germane to its existence as a story; I am also quite fond of it.

    Enjoy the exchange of opinions and insights here at WACT, even the opposing ones--they're the most enlightening!

    ***SO what's with the "sweet-smelling" business that Scott Marlowe talks about after he wakes up from his day-long sleep? (which I've never understood). Did my too-literal leanings cause me to miss something else?

    TED - while we're debating weighty, metaphysical matters---did you ever get the Stooges "Ma-Hah" routine that I sent? What did you think?

  23. Mark--- OK, I know it's you this time because I can see the reflection of a sine wave on your contacts. Does your brother see Eck through his glasses?

    Oh, hey---ditto your comment re "The Guests." I had forgotten that it had no CV and would sign any petition or participate in any rally intended to get Peter and John to write one tag each!

    Larry R.--- I DID get the script---didn't you receive my e-mail thanks?! I know I sent one. It's marvelous to compare the routine on the page vs. Moe and Curly's improv version on screen. I rehashed the whole thing yet again for somebody on FB just the other day (still using my phonetic version, enhanced now by the script). Thank you again, immensely, for the splendid gift! I'm enraptured! enchanted! embalmed!

    The "deadly sweet smell," I'd reckon, as someone else already has, was merely the residual odor of a "NORCOtic" that knocked out Jory so that they could remove all of Stu's personal items from the hotel room. His belaboring the fact of having slept so deeply thus was intended as a clear enough indication, so Stefano didn't feel compelled to revisit the matter. That's always been good enough for me, and I've never given it any thought beyond that.

  24. DJS-

    Out of curiosity, did you not like the beginning prologue that showed us the Dirt Monster's humble beginnings? Maybe it's just the kid in me, but something about a creature being manifested from a regular household appliance makes this one more of a fun show. It's origin so simplistic, in turn, making it creative. My opinion of this ep. has changed more fondly during the day. The more I think of it, the more it reminds me of the type of story from Marvel's 'Where Monsters Dwell' comic. At least the bear in this ep. could hold its own in a brawl with those titanic brutes.

    I just looked up your OL Guide book on Amazon to purchase it, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to afford a copy until I knock over a couple of banks. I remember you and some of the other commentators from a previous thread discussing about how much the book goes for now, thinking you guys were just joking around! So, big thanks from me for allowing Peter and John to post it's informative pages on the blog!

    Also, has Gun Work as being released February 22 2011. Is this an error on their part? Probably doesn't matter, just thought I'd let you know in case you weren't already aware.

  25. UlTacWar, no, the prologue to "Woodwork" works fine for me, but I was anticipating the usual derision ...

    The COMPANION is now a collector's item because it's out of print. There is talk of a third edition ... but that day is a long way off, to quote Leslie Stevens.

    You may not know about the recent collapse of Dorchester Publishing and the attendant chaos (which victimized Leisure Books writers more than anyone). Titan Books (which also did THE ART OF DREW STRUZAN, which I co-authored) has picked up the Hard Case line, so the February due-date for GUN WORK is a reprint, which cheers me. Also, the Hard Case GABRIEL HUNT spinoff line is under new sponsorship, and they chose my entry (#5, HUNT AMONG THE KILLERS OF MEN) to issue as a trade paperback this coming June.

  26. I wasn't sure what was going on because all the Hard Case crime books have vanished from all my local Borders. I read somewhere on Barebones that they were defunct, but still saw that they had a website up. Glad to hear they got picked up along with your works being published, reprinted. Thanks for the response my good man.

  27. MORE: Dorchester's creditors literally held the entire warehouse hostage, moving the stock to another state (ie., an "undisclosed location") and freezing out orders ... which is why your local bookstore could not restock the Hard Case Crime titles. Everybody was turned away until the financial dust settled. Even the authors could not buy copies of their own books! Since Hard Case was not owned by Dorchester (only distributed by them), Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case, was able to cut a new deal. The authors of Leisure horror titles were not so fortunate — they're twisting in the wind, strung up on a high branch indeed.

  28. DJS-

    I guess it's a sign of you being a top author when you're able to make the collapse of publishing house seem exciting. Seriously, your last post conjured up images in my head of the beautiful little Hard Case books being contained in some musty warehouse while men dressed in camouflage, armed with M-16s, patrol the outside perimeter.

    Thanks again for the input as it gives me a better grasp on why I haven't seen the paperbacks in any stores. I don't think I want to know anymore of the sad fate of the Leisure horror titles. Something about authors or creators being screwed financially, through no fault of their own, after working so hard on writing, makes me sick to my stomach.

  29. Re: Hard Case Crime,

    Those last two books, MURDER IS MY BUSINESS by Bret Halliday and Jack Clark's NOBODY'S angel were tough to get. I stuck with HC from the beginning, subscribed to their monthly shipment club, but saw the writing on the wall just before the collapse and cancelled my sub. From what I hear I stopped it just in time. Anyway, as a result I never got those last two books and then tried ordering them off Amazon. No go. I had to get them used off eBay. Presently there's one copy available from Amazon used and it's $118! It does list a release date of Feb 2011. Perhaps those moldering warehouse copies?

  30. Peter-

    Just got back from work. I need one of those fancy phones with internet access so I can follow this blog all day like the pysycho I've been becoming.

    Good to hear from you as always. How's things? It's amazing what some of these books can go for when they aren't accessible. The same goes for DVDs. I can understand Schow's Companion or a Gold Medal original, books that have been out of print. But these Hard Cases, as good as they may or may not be, should not go for such a ridiculous price.

    Speaking of Gold Medal originals, there were two copies of The Brute in Brass on Amazon before my father purchased me one, that both went for $28.00 each. The remaining one jumped up to around now, $98.00. In my opinion I lucked out. I'd have paid around $100.00.

    Maybe you or DJS could answer for me just how bad of a state the publishing industry is in? Is it the worst since the depression, or not nearly that bad?

    I know the last thing you want is for this great blog/forum to turn into some kind of sports satellite, but please ol' wise one, do you still like the Packers for the Superbowl? I won 500 clams betting on them Sunday!

  31. I'm a day late, and hopefully I'm not retreading what's already been said, but I really love this episode so... The relationships in this episode are very complicated, sometimes confusing, and somewhat unresolved, but they add a depth that is as fascinating as it is frustrating. The key one is between Stu and Jory. Jory's brave enough to go out and get a date with a hot TV star, yet he can't be away from his brother even for a short time. For me, the switch of emphasis from Jory to Sgt. Siroleo is clearly the wrong way to go. The scene when Stu comes back from Norco and has it out with Jory, ending in Stu's tragic death is immensely powerful; it's the end not only of Stu, but of any chance for them to resolve their differences. An event of this magnitude deserves the chance for the survivor, Jory, to find his way and make some kind of peace with himself. But enter Ed Asner and the story takes a different direction, not ruining, but compromising "Woodwork"s" place as a top fiver for me. Still, there's so much mystery going on, I come back to this one often. Joe Stefano (and other OL writers of note, perhaps with a little of Joe's revision) often were as brilliant by what he left as questions a by what he answered. For example, Stu and Stephanie both died and were brought back, but the story doesn't venture there. I'm going to do a switch here and nominate Joan Camden as the babe of the week. Sure, Barbara Luna is pretty cute, but switch the lab coat with the dress and glamour (and Joan's lovely facial features) and I say she'd win out. Her eventual compassion and courage in saving Sgt. Siroleo leads me to believe that prior to her death, she would have been a wholly different person than the bitter one she became. I wonder what would have become of her friendship with Stu? I'll give "It Crawled Out Of The Woowork" three and a half stars.

  32. UTW-

    (by the way, do you have a first name? I know it's probably bad form asking but we're all friends around here anyway)

    David can definitely answer about the state of publishing these days better than me as he has to deal with it on a daily basis. From my perspective, it's the worst I've ever seen it as far as "physical boks" go. Again, David can probably shed more light on the whole "e-book" thing. I suspect, being a hotshot published novelist, he's happy about the e-book because it's potentially more sales but... knowing he's also a book lover, he's gotta hate the fact that his reader is not holding a real honest-to-gosh book in his hands.
    The Brute in Brass is a great book. I just saw a lot of Whittingtons on ebay for a decent price (6 or so books currently at about $30 I think) and it included Brute. There are so many great Gold Medals to choose from. Lionel White, Peter Rabe (I f**king love Murder me For Nickels), JDM, Steve Frazee (noirish "He Rode Alone" is my favorite western read of all time), the list goes on and on. Check Bill Crider's website (if you don't already). He and ed Gorman are the most knowledgeable guys on the net when it comes to old crime novels.
    And, have no fear, Packers 28-21. Bank on it. Now let's work on getting my Phoenix Suns back into working order.

  33. Peter-

    No problem at all. My name is Tom McMillion. I'm pretty sure I gave you my name back when I e-mailed you my Top Thriller picks, but you probably forgot which is more then understandable. You can call me UTW, Tom, or Tommy, but not Thomas (I don't own an English Muffin factory.)

    E-books are an interesting concept, especially being able to download public domain books for free, but I'm not a big fan of its format, reading from an electronic screen. It's hard for me to read Schow's Companion on my computer, but given how the book is out of print, I just have to get used to it.

    Regarding Peter Rabe, I read my first novel of his, "Kill The Boss Good-Bye," over the summer. Good gangster pulp fiction. The implied rape of the housekeeper while the mobster is going into complete psychosis was very chilling. Murder Me for Nickels sounds right up my alley and I'm going to hunt down a copy of it.

    The Phoenix Suns....sigh, I was probably the only person in Chicago circa Father's Day, 1993, praying that they would defeat the Bulls. I was a big Barkley and Danny Ainge fan at the time. Well, lets hope Green Bay has better luck as I am going with your pick!

  34. Maybe it's saying the obvious, but Stephanie always seems like another of those pro-feminist O.L. characters, and not just because she largely saves the day. When she refuses to give Siroleo a complete tour of the place, he's very surprised, but doesn't seem especially put off because it's "a woman" refusing. Or when she asks to be called "Professor." (It's funny that so many later TV shows - no offense to Norman Lear - made such a production out of calling a woman "MS," and yet this story did the same thing with "Professor" but in a way that was DOWNPLAYED.)
    I mentioned it on the Pushing The Envelope site, but Joan Camden always reminds me of Cloris Leachman, and here she is with Ed Asner. Every time Linden gives Siroleo the runaround, I almost expect him to say "Phyllis, cut that out!"

  35. 3 Zantis. Good episode. It begins as a tale of two horny brothers. Barbara Luna is a total babe- I don't get why she falls for the surly brother. The lady scientist is not so hot for every character in the show to be hitting on her. You can tell this is a Connie Hall episode- he spends an inordinate amount of time on the floor, great use of shadows, especially on Asner's face- Hall is like John Alcott on steroids. Asner gives easily the best performance in the episode, amazingly he was only 33 at the time. The characters are all a little too hysterical or intense for me. The monster is effective, although it resembles the one in Man with the Power.

  36. Interesting forum all around. Pardon me, but I'm in love with both Miss Luna (who couldn't be?) AND "the lady scientist". The scientist reminds me of all those businesslike yet covertly sexy teachers I had in high school recenly and could never hope to impress...Interesting casting choice and overshadowed by Miss Luna ....

  37. I was just about to say something similar (I just saw it again an hour ago). She may be "frosty Professor Linden," as someone here put it, but Joan Camden really makes her attractive.
    Someone mentioned Dr. Block "hovering lewdly" over her, and this time I noticed that moment when he actually unbuttons her lab coat very slowly! Sure, he's doing it to show her the device and remind her of "the life I've given" her and the others, but the way he does it, it definitely looks like something else.

    1. Just watched this yesterday and thought exactly the same thing.

  38. It would appear that Quentin Tarantino is a BIG fan of this episode. Why ? If you've seen GRINDHOUSE, you WILL have surely noticed that each of the 2 films contain a character called Dr Block (played by Josh Brolin in PLANET TERROR and Marley Shelton in DEATHPROOF)! Coincidence ? I doubt it. Tarantino has always been a fan of films or shows where the director or the scriptwriter dares to kill off one or several of his main characters (his favourite films include several titles (De Palma's BLOW OUT, Tony Scott's REVENGE) that do just that, and Tarantino himself does it all the time in his own films)so it,s not much of a stretch to say that he probably admired Stefano's guts in killing off almost everybody in WOODWORK (some of them TWICE !!)

  39. Not sure if it was mentioned but why was the guard while watching the main gate sitting on a folding chair? Maybe to show it was a temp job??

  40. I just finished watching It Crawled Out Of the Woodwork this A.M. for the umpteenth time and it held up beautifully. Scott Marlowe was irritating, and his speaking style reminded me somewhat of Jack Larson's as Jimmy Olson, only Larson comes off as a more benign Beta guy, while Marlowe tends to come on strong.

    The acting was a strong point in this ep, with even the Warren Edgar Morley guy pretty good; and of course Ted De Corsia, more genial than usual(for him). Michael Forest totally convinced me he was a research scientist. I've known guys who looked and acted like just him who were ones. Barbara Luna just doesn't do it for me, though, and her look is too pre-hippie 60s for my tastes. Joan Camden was the hubba hubba gal for me. Oswald and Hall captured her elusive, refined angular beauty to perfection. Her performance was excellent and heartfelt. Nor did she go over the top in her more emotional moments.

    Overall, this is one of my favorites eps of TOL. Everything comes together nicely, with the odd storytelling (to complement the odd camera angles?) a real plus. Even by today's standards it feels avant garde and very brainy even if the basic science aspects of the conservation of energy theory doesn't strike me as 100%. WTF. It's a TV show, not a physics course.

  41. I LOVE this episode! It all works for me. Maybe Barbara Luna says "I'm sorry" one too many times (she apologizes for everything!) but I dig the dialog, especially Ed Asner's and the younger brother. All good. The woman scientist is great. The guards are all interesting. Even the evil boss is good. The bear is cool. The music and bear sounds are cool. All works for me. How can anyone NOT like this one? If you like anything (and everything) about season one, this one seems to have it all.

  42. The Stephanie character shows what happens when a "zombie" is made a tragic character instead of a scary one. Joan Camden is great in the role.

  43. So right Grant. I just watched this one again tonight on Internet Archive, and was also struck by how hot Joan Camden is. (While all you other guys are understandably drooling over Babs Luna). Never one of my very favorite OLs -- God, Scott Marlowe is a pain --but it is rising fast!

  44. (Not to be confused with the Night Gallery episode “Something in the Woodwork”….)

    It was a dark and stormy night…. And so begins a tale that has all the trappings of a classic horror film. As such, it gets off to a good start, with all the appropriate elements---mad scientist, killer creature on the loose, a hoard of undead zombies (though in this case they’re not looking for brains, but rely on energy to survive and so can be controlled by ungainly pacemakers).

    The story easily held my attention, though the ending was quite anti-climactic and the story overall has a number of plot holes. Most importantly---how did a lump of lint transform into a (seemingly sentient) killer energy being? This vital piece of information isn’t explained at all. I guess a clog in your vacuum hose can easily create monsters, so everyone better be careful when doing a bit of housecleaning, lest you wind up unexpectedly dead.

    As for the final climactic sequence, well…. It would have been easy enough to push the dying doctor aside and push the “door close” button before the monster ever escaped. And then once it was on the loose, why didn’t it suck the life out of the two people in the room before leaving the lab? Or does it simply scare people to death, instead of draining their life force? How self-aware is it? It seemed to target that guard at the beginning simply because he tried to warn people away from the lab… though why would it care one way or another who was employed at the facility?

    This energy being seems to require a constant influx of energy to survive (no surprise), so if they wanted to defeat it, well---why not just shut it in its room and then turn off the generator? It can’t seem to travel through locked steel doors---if left on its own for a bit, wouldn’t it just burn through its energy reserves and fizzle out?

    The control voice at the end let us know that, oh wait, this story was in fact an allegory about the danger of splitting the atom. No putting that genie back in the bottle---once we created the atom bomb, we can’t get rid of it, all we can do is contain it and guard it. Honestly, this interpretation of events probably never would have occurred to me, if I hadn’t been told what to think by Mr Control Voice. So, thank you, master….. heh….

    I thought the cast was uniformly good, though the narrative pulls a couple of switches on the viewer. First we think that Stuart is going to be the main character, then we switch over to his brother Jory, and then switch yet again to the detective. Barbara Luna was lovely in the thankless “I-just-met-you-but-now-I’m-happy-to-be-your faithful-girlfriend-and-will-do-anything-you-want” role. I have to seriously question her character’s judgement, not only because of hooking up with a total stranger who calls her out of the blue, but because just about every word that falls out of Jory’s mouth shows that he has severe emotional issues that aren’t exactly ideal if one is looking for a stable boyfriend.

    Though, that brings up another point… This is another episode that shows us a lot about a character’s (Jory’s) background and personality, without the information really having anything to do with the plot. I kind of like the way the show does this, throwing out a lot of asides without them having to mean anything or be relevant. Seems like real life.

    The episode, as befitting a horror story, was quite atmospheric, artistically shot and lit. And I thought optical effects depicting the energy monster were very well done; I liked what they were able to do on a limited budget; excellent!

    So, overall---I enjoyed the story and got a great deal of enjoyment from the episode, but some vagaries of plot keeps this from being a top-tier episode.


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