Friday, February 25, 2011

Behold, Eck!

Production Order #05
Broadcast Order #03
Original Airdate: 10/03/64
Starring Peter Lind Hayes, Joan Freeman, Douglas Henderson.
Written by John Mantley, based on a story by William R. Cox.
Directed by Byron Haskin. 

A two-dimensional creature wreaks havoc amid people with bad eyesight as it searches for a way back into its own dimension. Kindly Dr. Stone (Hayes) ignores the dead people piled up like cords of wood in the monster's path and attempts to get him back to his promised land.

JS: Beware of episodes with exclamation points in the title.

PE: I’ll be the first to note that this season isn’t going very well.

JS: I'm beginning to feel like we're sitting on a jury, listening to more convincing testimony every day... and I've heard enough! Can we announce the verdict already! Season 2 is Guilty!

PE: When was the last time you were in a doctor’s office and asked the other patients their names and addresses?

JS: This was the 60s Peter; times weren't so tough for stalkers back then...

PE: I love when the cops let the doc wander in to the crime scene. Then Lt. Runyan (OL vet Henderson) says “don’t touch the evidence, doctor.” You mean the evidence he’s standing on?

JS: Henderson? I thought that was Orson Welles in one of his unappreciated roles.

PE: I hate to mop my living room floor but I’ve learnt my lesson. I’ll never shoot back my drinks again while watching OL. The still of the bisected skyscraper (cut cleanly in two) on OLTV network news was the dope, but the Eck! cutout was the cherry on top. Genius! Comic genius!

JS: Under different circumstances the sliced building would have made for a very impressive set piece in a disaster movie, but coupled with the cartoon-style silhouette knocked through the wall... well, behold Eck (no exclamation point).

PE: Let’s see: one victim has his glasses ripped off his face by some creature. The cops don’t believe him. A beautiful woman meets a violent death. Her glasses laid out beside her. The third victim has an Eck! stencil on his wall. The police won’t believe his stories of a horrible monster because he was “alleged to have suffered from double vision which he claims was cured by special lenses which he was wearing at the time of the incident.” (as reported by the OLTV news team). Hmmm. I can see why the cops have no clues.

JS: We haven't seen this caliber of police work since Thriller.
PE: So where did Eck! keep the address page he stole from the doc’s book? In his coat pocket? And does Eck! have Mapquest? I know it’s a silly question but if he “just knows” where 1242 Doyle Street is, does he really need the stolen page? I should just relax and watch the rest of the show, I know. They’ll explain it just before the curtain call.

JS: You're underestimating our bear. Clearly he was covering his tracks. 

PE: I’m not sure why everyone calls Eck! a hideous creature. There’s not much to him. A six-armed lightning bolt with eyes. Big deal. The way Dr. Stone’s brother, Bernard (Parley Baer) stuffs his hand in his mouth and runs mewling from the lab, you’d think he put on his 3-D glasses and saw Kathy Bates’ hot tub scene in About Schmidt.

JS: It's an interesting looking creature, (Eck, not Kathy Bates) and the effect is reasonably rendered. It's just lacking... something. Dimension, I guess. Frankly, I think he was just looking for a hug.

PE: L-OL scene: After Eck! Tries to join the OLTV news crew, he becomes visible and runs amok across the countryside, causing a horrendous car wreck. Fortunately the driver survives the flaming deathtrap by jumping from the vehicle just before it’s engulfed. Visibly shaken and badly bruised, he’s interviewed  by Lt. Runyan:
Runyan: You say, Mr. Grayson, you jumped clear of the car an instant before it caught fire.
Grayson (looking like he could use another stiff belt): I’m lucky to be alive!
Runyan: Now, this thing…this monster was still there?
Grayson (getting wild Lon Chaney Jr. eyes):  It was there all right. You can be sure of that. Hovering around. Glowing. Shooting off sparks.
Runyan: But it…left… the moment the gas tank exploded.
Grayson: Like a Banshee!
Like a Banshee? Screaming? Could you elaborate perhaps? But the scene gets better! Watch Lt. Runyan’s walk to Bernard. He’s either about to draw on Bernard or he’s incontinent. I had my third Fresca-spurt of the evening when Runyan whirls on Bernard and tells him, eyes agog, that his brother better start cooperating. One thing you can say about these lousy Season Two episodes: there are some entertaining bits here and there. The parts is greater than the sum.
JS: My favorite L-OL bit was when Hayes says, "I've found the key, look! This is the formula for the normal abberational coefficients, right? Now this is the same formula, altered by the sign for Young's aquanautics spheres and corrected for X relative refraction index. In this case a plus three as opposed to a plus one." Of course anyone looking at the equation written on the board can clearly see that it's plus four in that case, not plus three. Duh!

PE: It's a happy ending for Dr. Stone. Looks like he lost a 2-dimensional monster friend but gained a twenty-something squeeze. Why do I suspect that Joe Stefano would have added a postscript to Eck's loving farewell: "I'll never forget either one of you for the help you've given me. When my race comes back to conquer Earth, I'll kill you mercifully!"

JS: If only we viewers were so lucky...



David J. Schow on "Behold, Eck!":

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

Wah Chang's original sketches for Eck (if you look really close, you can see the "legs" of the wearer outlined in red). (DJS collection)

Makeup man Harry Thomas poses with the Eck suits at the Project Unlimited auction.

Joan Freeman

Next Up...


  1. I didn't get to watch this one last night, and I haven't seen it in years, so I better be careful what I say... In anticipation of a slaughter, I'm going to say that as a teen I loved this one. I know it's bad; I knew it way back when, but I always had fun with it. Maybe it was just the idea of a friendly monster. Maybe it was the cool two-dimensional world idea. Maybe it was Joan Freeman (cute!). Or maybe I just need glasses! I await the assault...

  2. Behold DRECK!

    I can't believe the guys took the time to actually transcribe some of the dialogue - particularly the stuff about the aberrational coefficients. That's clearly above and beyond the call of blog duty.

    Here’s another episode I’ve avoided religiously since first seeing it, but I have to admit I almost enjoyed the juvenile comic book mystery approach watching it this time around. I kept thinking of ECK as an electrocuted version of Homer Simpson, and then everything magically made sense.

    Peter Lind Hayes widens his eyeballs a couple of times, and then settles in for as leisurely effortless a performance as possible, while his brother thinks he’s on the Carol Burnett show channeling Harvey Korman popping blood vessels. Joan Freeman, whose eyes could be in different zip codes, has to say stuff like, “You’re wonderful, Eck!” with a straight face, and then wiggle around in a tight skirt and show her calves. Nice calves.

    But the worst episodes often provide the best commentaries and this one had me grinning in multiple dimensions.

  3. The MR. ECK sitcom spinoff sadly only lasted 13 episodes. Dr. Stone, now played by Alvy Moore (Hank Kimble on GREEN ACRES), keeps Eck out back in a guest house and the fun comes as no one else can see him, including his nagging wife. Hilarity ensues. I can still remember the opening verse of the theme song:

    A thing in 2D
    Is hard to see
    And no one can see
    A thing in 2D
    Unless perhaps
    You look through the glass
    And witness Mr. Eck

    As for "Behold Eck!", I think the casting of Parley Baer really sets the tone. All I can say is, it's more fun to watch than "Counterweight" and the guys do an amusing commentary. And the efECKs aren't bad.

  4. "Eck!" seems to have a peculiar appeal for young children and old girlfriends (the latter I can tell you from personal experience). To begin with, let's try to be fair: even TV Guide listed this episode as a comedy, just as it did with S1's "Controlled Experiment," so viewers were indeed forewarned. The whole darned thing was actually intended to be sweet, warm and fuzzy -- precisely the qualities that characterize THE OUTER LIMITS for most fans. "Let's do one for the kids!" must have been ABC/Brady's reasoning. And, for some kids, it almost did the trick. Almost. Peter Lind Hayes, seen famously in THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T. with wife Mary Healy, is one of those actors with "lovable dad" written all over him (Donald Woods also fits this bill, and in William Castle's 13 GHOSTS, he also dons a weird viewer to observe equally weird entities). These guys are certainly paternal, but also just a tad eccentric and open to offbeat possibilities, which makes them fairly endearing. As for Joan Freeman, she was a '60s babe of the sexy/wholesome school, ideal as one of Elvis' girls (ROUSTABOUT, if I'm not mistaken). Frankly, I'm surprised Mary Healy didn't make it into this family-slanted episode; maybe she and Hans Conried were off dancing somewhere. Bottom line? I suppose if OL really wanted a teddy "bear," or an Easter bunny from another dimension run amok, our cartoony friend Eck! gets the job done. But, goodness gracious, this is THE OUTER LIMITS folks, not an episode of SCOOBY-DO!

  5. In THE OUTER LIMITS COMPANION, director Byron Haskin just about sums up the series, "...everybody knew the show was croaking." It must have been hard to continue operating with the morale so low. A flat failure as a comedy.

  6. I couldn't get up from my chair for a full twenty minutes after watching this solid work of craftsmanship. 'Behold, Eck!' is one of those epic stories that comes along once every century. Don't feel bad if you can't understand its greatness and are confused after your first viewing. It usually takes several times before the show's hidden meanings and true revelations are exposed because most people aren't smart enough to grasp its concept.

    If I ever get a girlfriend, the first thing I'm going to do is bring her to my parents basement so she can behold 'Eck!' There, we will dine on Lunchables and Mike's Hard Lemonade. If she doesn't like watching this life-affirming masterpiece then I know that she's not the girl for me.

    I even named my six pet cats Eck 1-6. I'd write more about this biblical episode, but I have to go watch it again for the third time today, before I don my black ski mask and head out into the neighborhood to make more friends.

  7. I think "Behold Eck!" is generally considered to be the worst episode of TOL. This is not a belief that I subscribe to. I'm not saying it's good by any stretch, but it is entertaining to me. It's much more enjoyable than "The Invisible Enemy", "Counterweight" or Season One's "Zzzzz".

    I think it's because of the two main characters. I like Peter Lind Hayes as Dr. Brown. His lack of facial expressions and mostly staccato line delivery was controlled, more akin to that of a scientist/nerd. He's definitely better than the so called scientists and doctors that fell apart in "Counterweight". And Miss Dunn...what an assistant. Their relationship was one built on respect and trust and was surprising to see given the overall silliness of the story.

    There was also something appealing about Eck! outside of his two-dimensionality. I consider the effect of Eck! to be lame overall, especially when he pulls his eye out (convieniently). But not being able to see him unless you put on the glasses (shades of Carpenter's "They Live") was something I enjoyed.

    I really did like the effect of the skyscraper sheared in half, but the Wile E. Coyote hole-in-the-wall left by a panicky Eck! didn't sell.

    I think the only real comedy here is provided by Dr. Brown and his brother, who's eyes I'd like to poke out if it would have shut him up.

    The burning question for me is why didn't Dr. Brown just let his pain-in-the-ass brother talk to Eck! himself? It's not like he could have hurt him. Just let Eck! tell him the same story that he blurted out to Dr. Brown with little prodding. Unless I'm missing something, that was stupid.

    "Behold Eck!"...I'm not a hater.

  8. UTW- I'll have to look for a black ski mask! Gary- none of my old girlfriends ever liked OL, maybe I should have showed them this one. Maybe that's the best way to know if someone's the one, see how much they like OL! If that's the case, I made the right choice.

  9. BEHOLD! (*shrug*)

    Nothing like a title laden with pretentious gravitas to herald a film about a myopic electrified snowflake. The '50s did it better, with a Reynold Brown poster of oversized whatevers, blazoned with eye-gouging titles full of unsettling words---AMAZING! CREATURE! COLOSSAL! THEM! INCREDIBLE! WOMAN! BEHEMOTH! ASTOUNDING!---guaranteed to have you standing in line at the local Lyceum on Saturday afternoon. Only they'd usually deliver either more laughs (occasionally) or a higher body count (almost always).

    I could belabor how this optometric aberration later inspired my own story about a race of 2-D creatures who like to make your things disappear from where you KNEW you put them and can use their no-D edge to nasty effect when you commit the no-no of discovering their existence... But that's for another time and place. I might get sued by Dr. James Stone for casting envious eyes on his discovery.

    Instead I'll come back later and give the opti-sode a gimlet-eyed once-over. For now, I'd like to hand out a few early-returns awards:

    Nice catch of the curious fact that, although Eck can't see well enough not to slice through a mammoth skyscraper, he can locate, deftly remove and read a list of names in an alien language just fine.

    You've identified the odds-on favorite to win the Best Line by a Babe to a Bear Award at the end of S2: "Oh, Eck---you're wonderful!"

    Larry B---
    Best Spinoff Theme Song for a show about a bear standing in for a horse! Clever!

    Gary G---
    Best Parallel Reminiscence! 13 GHOSTS! I long ago lost my original 3-D glasses from this William Castle audience-participation classic at my neighborhood movie-house. But I'll never lose the memory of how they goosed the performance (and the kids) with ghosts on strings flying over the audience at that Halloween spooktacular! I've always thought of Donald Woods as the poor man's Dana Andrews.

    Man, that's both witty AND scary---the two things that dribbled out of this one between script and screen. You provide the terrifying synopsis for the post-mo, slathered-in-irony horror film this schlepisode might have inspired.

  10. Peter Lind Hayes and his smart and decent Dr. Stone, as well as Eck himself, who is sweet and doesn't mean to offend, make this one very tolerable. I buy them both. I like the camaraderie between Stone and his gal assistant, born out of respect and undoubtedly the heat gets turned up after Eck's safe return. Dr. Stone is a nice guy...why not?

    At least this isn't pretentious like "Counterweight" was; this is an inter-dimensional rescue mission and yeah, maybe it's only suitable for kids and unappreciative girlfriends. But those kids might grow up to like REAL science fiction someday, and they've got to start someplace. This kind little fable isn't a bad place for that.

    I really LOVE Peter Lind Hayes -- and of course used to confabulate his name and the name of thi episode into the name of the German cult actor Peter Van Eyck, so that every time I'd see Van Eyck listed in TV Guide I'd think of TOL.

    Hayes is one of the coolest performers, funny in that waaay low-key style and sort of a forerunner of Bill Murray's deadpan waggish performances in various films. Okay, maybe I just really love him as Mr. Zabladowski in "5000 Fingers of Dr. T"...he gets a forever thumbs-up in my book for that.

    Aw...this one is just a love story between a two-dimensional creature, an optometrist, and the woman they love. Sweet!

  11. I forgot to mention that I love Larry B's "Mr. Eck" theme song, too.

    And I also like when Eck does his reverse and fold-up disappearing act...sort of neat.

  12. "Nothing like a title laden with pretentious gravitas"

    Ted, perfectly put by golly, and in that way it's reminiscent of those 60s Marvel comics, sometimes with a rampaging Jack Kirby creature, and weird titles like, "Lo, Bog-Dar!" or "The Coming of Thropp!" or something like that. Remember those?

  13. Thank you, Lisa and Ted. I actually toyed with a second verse momentarily.

    Nice perspective, Lisa--and I like Peter Lind Hayes too. That Peter Van Eyck/Eck thing is really wild.

  14. Yeah Larry B., except those comics were good! My personal favorite was Taboo, the giant mud monster. I remember an Incredible Hulk annual, from the mid-70's that I used to own, where the Jade giant did battle with about 6 of those awesome retro-beasts.

    Speaking of awesome, I just got done watching my first ep. of 'The Dakotas' on youtube, 'Return to Dryrock.' Thank you so much for turning me on to this show. If the rest are even half as good as this one was, I'll be satisfied. Move over Paladin, Tate, and Josh Randall. J.D. Smith makes those guys look like a bunch of wimps.


    I'll be on a Segway, also wearing a fur coat.

    Ted Rypel-

    Witty and scary? lol. Whatever do you mean? I just write what Eck! tells me to.

  15. So Byron Haskin is forced to shake his head and wring his hands in public embarrassment again. It IS ironic that the director of the classic version of WAR OF THE WORLDS and other respected sf features also wound up helming stuff like this, with a nice idea whose shaky foundations kept him mired.

    Such is the reality of any workplace. We make the best of what we do in an effort to keep a continuity of income. And some days are more inspired than others.

    Nothing screams "Fumble!" like a film that can't decide its basic tone. We don't need to remove blinders to recognize that this story starts with a 2-D punch in the face, whips around to indulge in some broad antics, and then reverts to darker actions, if subdued by unconvincing interspecies fondness.

    We get to watch Peter Lind Hayes expound somberly with a funny hat with glasses perched on the brim; SEE! Parley Baer's "d'oh!" of a double-take as he rushes back to his neglected meeting guest; THRILL! to Eck's Daffy Duck wall-hole.

    But then it's all abandoned, like a set-up without a punchline, for some dead and battered innocent victims of Eck's amusing blundering and a callously incinerated optometric office.

    "Oh, well...we'll always have our fond memories of Eck." (And shouldn't SOMEBODY have been concerned about that still-smoldering office building? Not to mention the teetering one down the street.)

    By the way, did Eck have vision-care insurance? That meteoric quartz doesn't just fall from the sky you know. Oh, wait a minute--it DOES, along with alien DNA, as we'll see in "The Inheritors." And don't you wish you could save time at an eye exam by just handing over those pesky eyeballs and letting someone else do the testing?

    Silly as it all is, "Eck!" manages to establish a certain dramatic conflict, at least by telling rather than engagingly showing. Eck IS the only one who can repair that much-bandied time-space rift, yet the authorities are out to fry him. Modest tension.

    That car-crash stock footage looks as if it would have been right at home in any of a score of '50s sf-fantasy fore-"bears." THE GIANT GILA MONSTER, for one, would fit the profile nicely.

    The cast is given little, and they exert themselves less. The optometrist's role is another of those dedicated scientists---ironic here---who can't "see" that their devoted assistant has been carrying a pilot light for them lo! these many years they've been career-linked. Douglas Henderson looks uncomfortable, as if he'd rather be ducking from Thetans with X-ray machines. And does Marcel Herbert (Miss Willett) not appear to have been separated at birth from Marion Ross?

    But Joan Freeman's optic-geometry babble can't detract from her OL-Babe refractive index: 20/20 on the eye chart. I note this only because John and Peter, you understand, are keeping records.

    "How long before that flame-thrower gets here?"
    "About six minutes."

    Who can argue with such precision logistical timing? Or useful reference to how much time remained in the episode. They got that right, almost exactly. Couldn't they have made it shorter, and then given us a curtain call, with Eck slicing a funny-shaped hole in the curtain?

    What a spectacle...

  16. And it's comforting (or unnerving?) to know we are still being threatened by rifts in the time-shift/alternate universe fabric ... for anyone who is watching "Fringe" (tonight at 9). Some sci-fi memes never expire.

  17. Lisa---
    You're right, of course: there's nothing fundamentally objectionable about an episode like this. It IS a sweet and gentle and simplistic contemplation of first contact and the need for communication---between humans as well as different species.

    It's just that very simplicity---the fact that it appears to have been engineered for the intellects of kids---that galls so many serious fans of the show, who became conditioned to expect so much more maverick style and content from TOL.

    I can't seriously despise an episode like this---that would be way over the top. I can only process the fact that it was created for someone else. Someone who might have been me back then, but is no longer. And I resent the fact that it appears the network "think-tank" was lumping us all, as sf fans, into that Peter Pan demographic.

    I understand. Just remember that not everything Eck whispers is a...GOOD thing... Last night he told me to eat collard greens. He does that again, I'm turning myself in. Or sharpening the axe.

    Larry B and UTW---
    Man, don't get me started on those fabulous pre-Silver Age Marvel tales! When every character drawn by Ditko had those magical splayed fingers and every Tales to Astonish cover-featured incredible critters like...FIN FANG FOOM!---the Chinese dragon-styled monster who represented the last vestiges of the dreaded Yellow Menace. Or...MONSTEROSO! (he was OH, so monstrous!)---who just kept growing and growing, in a spectacular apotheosis of every '50s GIANT CREATURE, until he was actually treading on the Earth as if it were a beachball!

    Relativity always won the day, though---Monsteroso learned the lesson that he was nothing more than a drop on a microscope slide in some titanic universe! Ah, philosophy!

    Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and their cohorts were geniuses when it came to doggedly counteracting the virulent Comic Code Authority and filling in the vacuum between the comic "ages."

  18. Gary G---

    Favorite Donald Woods sighting: as the Coast Guard captain in BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS.

    To Kenneth Tobey: "I guess you'll have to brain me!"

  19. >>his brother thinks he’s on the Carol Burnett show channeling Harvey Korman popping blood vessels.

    Spot on, Hollywood. All through the episode, I was thinking Mr. Drysdale or Larry Tate, but Korman will do.

  20. Loved Fin Fang Foom, and also Zis Boom Bah. You could always separate us "monster kids" from the "superhero nerds" at the comic book racks. Beyond the FM-type mags, monster kids were busy spending their money on Dell movie adaptations, Classics Illustrated (WAR OF THE WORLDS -- who didn't have that?) and TUROK (dinosaurs!), not to mention the latest issues of GORGO (more Ditko), KONGA (the same), and REPTILICUS/REPTISAURUS. And boy oh boy, I still remember the profound disappointment of watching AMAZING ADULT FANTASY devolve into some insignificant comic about an arachnid superhero (gotta admit, came to love Spidey and his fabuloso villains in time. The Lizard, after all, was THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON meets THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE in four-color process, and I'll never forgive Sam Raimi for not realizing him on screen after a two-movie build-up). Indeed fellow vets, where were YOU in '62?

  21. My buddy Steve Mitchell and I used to perform that entire exchange between Ken Tobey and Donald Woods from THE BEAST (COMBAT!-driven Steve would be Tobey, I'd be the more cheerful Woods -- "You certainly SOUND serious..." "You're nuts, Jack!" etc.) Woods actually started his career as a relatively important actor in significant studio films, for both WB and MGM. "All quiet on the offspring front" is another favorite line (13 GHOSTS). He was given a respectable clip at the Oscars a few years ago as they overviewed the performers who had just passed on...

  22. What I like most about Peter Lind Hayes is that he makes reading cue cards with thick glasses on look almost like acting.

  23. Gary G---

    Right on, bro. The hero comics took a little time to endear themselves, supplanting that beloved four-monsters-to-a-mag format under our critical gaze. They won us over, only grudgingly, due to the new hero-of-the-people neuroses Stan Lee so cannily injected into them for a more critical, cynical generation.

    But we never completely got over the disappearance of those hyper-imaginative monsters with the delightful-to-pronounce names. And the monster mags continued to proliferate and win our ghoulish approval.

    What a childhood we had, eh? What days those were, to live in, to lap up like Necco Sky Bars.

  24. Gary---

    I IMDB'd Woods for the first time ever as a result of this chat, and I was impressed with his credits, to say the least. And as far as his TV work, I watched MEN INTO SPACE but didn't register his character in memory. Glad to hear he received Academy recognition at his passing.

  25. HEY---where's the scene where Peter Lind Hayes puts on the glasses and says: "Mahah? Razbanyas yatee benee fucth ah timminy herongha...etc"? Must be missing from the commercially released print.

    Anyway, as the final aria in a well-known 20th-century socially relevant opera asks:


    How the mighty have fallen, as we search for some glimmer of light amidst the drek of Eck, Counterweight, etc. This episode falls under the heading "It's not as bad as I was expecting" and I actually find it intermittently enjoyable. Peter Lind Hayes makes an unusual sort of hero, and some of the effects shots are imaginative and show that Haskin and the guys were doing their best to make it visually respectable..on a pea-sized budget.

    HEY GUYS---from '58 to 61, my late brother and I were BIG collectors of the Marvel-Atlas pre-super hero comics, when Kirby, Ditko (and even Don Heck) were in their glory. Love the stuff, and was able to rebuild our entire collection back in the mid-70's while living in the D.C.-Baltimore area, where there was a major comics convention every three weeks, it seemed. Picked up most of the Non-Super Hero Marvel and late 50's DC titles for around $2.00 a piece..and in great condition, too! They are all sitting stacked neatly in a box within my reach as I type this.

    Some great Kirby/Ditko/Heck Eck-like titles:

    BOMBU the Witch Man!
    GROTTU, King of the Insects!
    I AM DRAGOOM, the Flaming Intruder!
    Up From the Slimy Depths Comes GARGANTUS!
    I Unleased SHAGG Upon the World!
    Here Comes GOMDULLA, the Living Pharoah!
    Behold the Face of SPRAGG!
    OROGO, the Thing From Beyond!

    And while we're discussing the subtleties of the genre, ECK's Daffy-Duck outline in the wall does in fact remind me of a couple of those Kirby stories, especially one with these spindly, expressionistic shadow/aliens that creep around and attach themselves to unsuspecting people.

    RE: DONALD WOODS--- he played the lead role of Charles Darnay--fer' cryin' out loud--in the epic 1935 MGM "Tale of Two Cities", with Ronald Coleman opposite him as Sidney Carton. The same year he played Paul Muni's assistant in "The Story of Louis Pasteur", which was a huge hit for Warner's. He was no slouch (visit the "Thriller a Day" blog and check out "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", but BEWARE of the 70's infommerical with actor John Williams that will pop up to greet you!)

    UTW--you had me cracked up with your first post; now THERE'S today's real comedy!


  26. "especially one with these spindly, expressionistic shadow/aliens that creep around and attach themselves to unsuspecting people."

    Okay, Larry R., spill; which story is that? I was mostly into DC comics as a kid, so not as familiar with the Marvel stuff, beyond those wild monster names quoted above.

    UTW: Very glad you are hooked on DAKOTAS! It only takes a taste, then there's no looking back.

  27. Larry B--

    Damn! Now I have to get off my ____, go through the comics themselves and try to find the story;
    it's the first story in the issue, but it's not the cover story...which means I have to page through the stuff to find it. I recall that it was reprinted in the mid-70's in one of those "Where Monsters Dwell" issues, which I also have somewhere. I would have listed the title and issue in my previous post if I knew what it was. I'll find it and post the info here.

    Do you know the "Dakotas" MacReady episode I referred to in yesterday's post? I'd be interested to know what you think of it.

  28. Larry R---

    You still have those great Marvel/Atlas comics, eh? I envy you. (They're probably all available as reprints by now. I should seek out at least a few.) No MONSTEROSO or FIN FANG FOOM, though? Your collection is incomplete, then! And those titles are a melodramatic wonder---a bold declaration or attribution, with only the monster's [HYSTERICAL NAME] in caps! What a fun line of books.

    Do you remember the all-time cheat-ending Ditko story with the astronaut who was going to fly to the somehow-discovered "end" of the universe and tell us what lies at the end of human experience? He comes back, they open the capsule, and there he is, all jagged grin and Ditko-fingers, totally insane, repeating over and over, "I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW!"

    You're right, I never realized how important an actor Donald Woods was until I checked his listing. I went through an avid Paul Muni period and watched PASTEUR but couldnly have told you that Woods was in it, or that he was so prominently cast against Coleman in TWO CITIES. You can immerse yourself in movies all your life and never stop learning---and even more tellingly, RE-learning---their minutiae.

  29. Larry R.: Yes indeed--and I love "Mutiny". But then, I actually find that I love all 20 episodes of THE DAKOTAS. In varying degrees, perhaps, but I find its level of quality so consistent it's almost unheard of in a TV series.

    As for the comic: sorry to put you to work, pal--ya just made it sound so damn cool!

  30. I have to admit, i've been struggling for sometime trying to get into this series, but for every decent, well-honed Bellero Shield, there's two and a half Ecks! If forced to continue, i may just follow Charlie Sheen down the TMZ toilet (altho minus the trashy porn stars)... Go on without me, just remember me for my President Kennedy quip long ago in a much more entertaining classic dvd galaxy. You may still find me enjoying the awesomeness of thrills and relatively consistent (compared to OL) chills with Boris. I'll catch up maybe on the next duelling-reviewers-a-day blog ... Night Gallery, anyone?

  31. Anybody remember Xemnu, the Hulk? A shaggy mind reading monster that resembled one that Bugs Bunny might have dealt with in the old Warner Bros. cartoons. His first appearence was Journey Into Mystery #62 from 1960. After the Hulk we all know and love came out a couple of years later, Xemnu's name was changed to Titan. The main reason I'm bringing him up, besides that he was one of the monsters that battled the Hulk in the previous post I mentioned, but because he was recently used in a Deadpool and Punisher comic book. Just goes to show that some of these critters are still around.

    How about Tim Boo Ba? The alien, Stalin-like dictator that was drowned to death when a kid spilled water on his toy model planet set?


    No fair. At least stick around for 'The Duplicate Man.' I'm all for a Night Gallery blog, but we are probably in the minority.

  32. Larry R.-

    Praise from Caesar himself. Thank you. I'm glad if you got a chuckle. Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on Night Gallery? After all, Mel Blanc did make a voice cameo in one of the dreary dark episodes.

    Since I'm just getting started with the series, I watched 'The Dakotas' episode, 'Mutiny at Fort Mercy,' because of your mentioning of it. Another winner, and man, that MacReady just continues to impress me.

    I can't recall anybody playing a creepier, human monster/dictator, then this guy! His performance makes the one in OL even more enjoyable because he obviously wasn't cast as the hero in many roles.

  33. Re: GEORGE MacREADY ~

    If you want to see some of his great earlier (and more controlled) film work, try the classic GILDA, or the Burt Lancaster cop-precinct noir "Detective Story" from 1951 (which also features a freak-out performance by a young Joseph Wiseman). Then, of course, there's the 1957 Kubrick World-War I masterpiece PATHS OF GLORY. Seriously, if you guys haven't seen this one, check it out ASAP! MacReady's cultured, latent hostility is malevolence itself. I saw this film ONCE---about 15 years ago. I bought the dvd soon after, and it has sat unopened on the shelf ever since....because I can't get up the courage to watch it again. It is devastating. I mean, the penultimate scene has these three convicted soldiers--Ralph Meeker (who is actually in tears, if you can imagine that), Joseph Turkel (who has been beat into a catatonic state but is still propped up so that the sentence can be carried out), and the big lug Tim Carey....well, it is beyond tragic. Kirk Douglas is excellent, Richard Anderson, Adolfe Menjou--all brilliant. A must see.

    Larry B.---- The story is Kirby's "I Was in the Clutches of THE LIVING SHADOW", the opening story from Strange Tales #79 (Dec. 1960). The issue features a TERRIFIC Giant Monster cover by Ditko--but that story itself is a HUGE letdown, since the artwork by Don Heck looks nothing like Steverino's cover. But the issue DOES also contain a great story by Ditko himself, "The Ghost of Grismore Castle". We got the book in October '60, and this story perfectly set the tone for the approaching Halloween that year.

    A few other Ditko favorites: "MY FRIEND IS NOT QUITE HUMAN" (Tales to Astonish #13), in which Napoleon himself commands a misanthropic wood sculptor-artist to carve a ship's figurehead in the form of Josephine, and

    "THEY WERE ONLY SCARECROWS" (Journey into Mystery #77), with a nutty old farmer who treats his scarecrows like his human pals.

    Ditko is god-like.

    UTW -- Yeah, I have the Tim Boob Ba story in a 70's reprint somewhere.

    TED-- I have the FIN FAN FOOM issue (Strange Tales #89), which was one of the increasing number of Stan Lee "message" stories that took place in Commie nations.

    I am by no means a comics authority, and my collection is pretty much limited to the specific things that we had in our youth. That's about as much as my poor overworked mind can handle now.

    Also, I believe there is a website where you can read scans of many of these stories.


  34. UTW--

    I never really watched Night Gallery; I've only caught bits and pieces and chopped up syndicated prints. The Earwig episode and the one with the creepy doll from British Colonial India were pretty good; also the pilot episode's Richard Kiley in the Holocaust museum. But I'd have to sit and watch the episodes in complete, unedited versions.

  35. Larry R.-

    Thanks for the response. Regarding 'Mutiny at Fort Mercy,' it was nice to see a familiar face in Hal Baylor, whom was in a huge number of things. Always remembered by me as the boxing opponent of both Robert Ryan and John Payne in 'The Set-up' and '99 River Street.'

    I'll go on a limb and recommend that you check out the Night Gallery DVDs. Especially season 2, which had some great stories like 'The Tune in Dan's Cafe' and 'Pickman's Model.' 'The Waiting Room,' written by Rod Serling, is a pretty cool supernatural western tale. It stars: Steve Forrest, Albert Salmi, Jim Davis, Lex Barker, and Buddy Ebsen.

    Look at Night Gallery as your Halloween basket after a night of trick or treating. It's got some great candy, some okay, and others terrible. I'll admit I'm a big fan of 70's horror. Just something about how dreary the color looked back then.

  36. Larry R---

    Spot on observation about the drab, fading colors of those '70s horror efforts having a bearing on their life-sapping look, to the point of suggesting genuine decadence in the period films.

    Bravo your shout-out to PATHS OF GLORY! Everyone should watch this one. A magnificent (and very short) Kubrick classic about the crazed arrogance that can fuel much of war. One of my all-time favorites. You have my complete support of your opinions of the performances---top-notch all around. Probably my favorite evil-MacReady role. He had to have been channeling that old vainglory when conjuring the "leader of the Society of the Invisibles---nothing less!"

    Haven't seen GILDA or THE DETECTIVE STORY in years and will have to watch for them on TCM, where they turn up now and again.

    You found Fin Fang Foom! Splendid! I'll have to try to find that site with the Marvel/Atlas scans. Thanks for the word.

  37. Larry R: thank you for your diligence. I shall seek that story out!

  38. Here's a website that features scans of Kirby GIANT MONSTER stories that were never reprinted in any form--you can read the full stories...but there aren't that many of them.

    As I'm sure you know, lots of the great pre-super hero stuff is being (or has been) reprinted by Marvel; check out Amazon. Pretty pricey, but worth it, especially on these rainy/snowy weekend afternoons.

    DITKO ALERT--- Check out the great Warren mag's early issues of CREEPY (and EERIE), also being reprinted. Among the excellent work in those early issues is a fabulous Ditko story entitled "Collector's Edition" (Creepy #10) about an obsessed man's quest for an ancient medieval tome on the supernatural (sort of like George MacReady in "Weird Tailor"). Great stuff; the issue opens with a first-rate horror tale by Angelo Torres called "Brain Trust", that would have made a terrific half-hour teleplay a la Nite Gallery.


  39. Larry Rapchak recommends CREEPY #10. I just pulled out my copy and read "Collector's Edition". An excellent story about how being a collector of books can drive you crazy. Plus it even has the nagging non-collector Wife as a major character. Wish BARE*BONES E-ZINE could reprint this one.

  40. Way back in the last issue of The Scream Factory, I wrote a piece on the 50 best stories to run in Creepy. "Collector's Edition" was one of them. As I recall, the best issue ever was #18 (it had, as I recall, 3 four-star stories). Ditko was King!

  41. Peter-

    Was that colorized Christmas story in your top 50? The one with the cop and the escaped mental patient serial killer dressed as Santa? It might sound like a generic plot now, but the dialogue between the cop's wife and daughter, along with the prater between the killer's parents, was pretty deep.

  42. Tom-

    Yep, that was "Bless Us Father" by Bill Dubay and Rich Corben from #59 (the first of two Christmas stories I picked from #59). The second annual Christmas issue (#68) was even better. I picked three from that one. The Holidays seemed to bring out the best (worst?) in Creepy!

    That Scream Factory Special Comic Issue by the way, was the best issue we ever did, if I do say so myself. It features Lawrence Watt-Evans' huge piece on Pre-Code Horror (which was reprinted recently in Alter Ego), an essential guide to DC horror comics, pieces on Marvel Horror comics, Marvel mags, The best stories ever to appear in Shock SuspenStories, and an insanely long issue by issue look at Swamp Thing. Still available from us for $10 postpaid (hint hint).

  43. Am out of town and mostly away from computers due to a death in the family, and have been missing a lot of stuff here! I'm taking a quick look through today, and all the Eck commentary is cheering me up--funny stuff! (UTW especially LOL--thank you!) Quick cuts: Counterweight a low point, but I keeping telling you all that The Probe is still to come, so we're not at the bottom yet. (I'm a fan of pretty much any kind of stop-motion animation at all, so the plant monster added points to Counterweight for me). Eck has some charm, but once you've seen it, you don't really need to again. There ARE some better episodes coming up now that we've trudged through some dregs, so keep your chins up! Gary G., right on about the monster comics--I never cared for superheroes, but Turok and Andar were my guys! All thumbs up for Paths of Glory--hard to watch and unforgettable. And Ditko/Warren fans should check out Eerie issue 135, which is entirely Ditko reprints (with all stories written by Archie Goodwin). It's not all the ones Ditko drew for Warren, since he did more than could fit in one issue, but it's a fine collection. I'll be iffy in commentary for the next few episodes due to circumstances, and won't be able to watch them right now for detail clarity, but will say in advance that I remember Wolf 359 with fondness and think of it as one of the better ones from S2 (someone please watch and tell me if O'Neal's barbecue setup is better than Shatner's), Demon as I mentioned earlier is in my top five of the whole series, and Cry of Silence is a lot better than most people think or remember, especially when the dead guy comes back. I can't remember what else is coming up this week (or even if these are due this week)--if the Duplicate Man is up soon, I consider that one highly too, and of course The Inheritors is fine (I personally really like I, Robot, too, but I imagine the Comments denizens will be somewhat tough on that one.) Will check in later when possible.

  44. Just posted and then saw Peter's post--would say that Scream Factory 19 is not only the best issue they did (I have them all), but one of the best works on horror comics period! Cannot recommend highly enough, and if PE really still has some for sale and you are a horror comics fan, you must get one!

  45. David-

    I speak, I think, for all of us when I send condolences from your extended family. Patrick O'Neal's advanced barbecue skills duly noted and have been commented on (but you won't see those comments until tomorrow).

  46. Peter-

    Man, I sure wish I didn't lose so much good stuff back in the flood of 1998. Especially all those Creepy issues I had (still got number #1 though). If memory serves, didn't issue 68 have an awesome cover with a maniacal Santa strewing guts all around from his Christmas sack?

    I'm sorry, but I'm not the most savvy internet guy. Where can I order back issues of The Scream Factory besides ebay? I briefly scanned the bare bones site but didn't find anything.

    Shot in the dark question: was an article ever written by you guys detailing Dr. Doom and his Super-Villain team-up adventures from the 70's? Particularly 'Astonishing Tales 1-3' where he does battle with The Faceless One and Doomsman? That small story was always one of my favorites. Not necessarily horror, but those villain spotlight comics always had a bit of a harder edge to them during the Bronze Age.

  47. The bb back issue page is woefully out of date and should be updated some day. Shoot me an e-mail at and I'll give you all the juicy details.

  48. David Horne-

    I had noticed that you weren't leaving that many comments lately. Sorry for your loss.

    It may seem like I'm being hard on some of these episodes from season 2, (glad I could cheer you up with my Eck! post) but really, I've enjoyed even the bad ones to some degree. Your right, we have some good stuff ahead of us. With only 17 episodes, season 2 has a pretty high batting percentage of good quality programming.

  49. David Horne---

    Please allow me to add my condolences to those of the thoughtful folks above, with respect to your family loss. Communities like this do often share more than the matter at hand, and right now we all share your grief.

    The adage to that effect in "ZZZZZ" is, in this case, much more than staged dialogue.

    Hope your family pulls through this sad time together.

  50. While I was reading Larry's comment about the MR. ECK! spinoff, I realized you can sing the lyrics to the tune of Vic Mizzy's "Reluctant Astronaut" main title music. Try it, it's quite fun!

  51. Unlike most people, I have only one real problem with it, but it's a huge one. And unlike my opinions of other episodes, my opinion of it can be summed up extremely simply - it's a dark monster comedy that somehow thinks it's a LIGHT monster comedy.

  52. I also went for those Marvel monster comics in a big way, but as reprints in "Where Monsters Dwell" etc. In fact, I keep re-acquiring them. The name that always makes me laugh is "Spragg." They had no way of knowing it at the time, but they tried to make him scary by giving him a name that immediately makes you think of a likeable nerdy sitcom character (Howard Sprague of Mayberry).

  53. It is curious that no one has seen fit to do any "spotlight" focuses on THE OUTER LIMITS episodes "The Hundred Days of the Dragon," "The Man with the Power," "Moonstone," "The Special One" and "Behold, Eck!"

    Whatever their "estimable merits" as Ted C. Rypel would say surely devout OL fans out there has something to thoughtfully comment about them of interest.

    I am adamently not a fan of either "Moonstone" or "The Special One" both of which are guilty of the cardinal sin of being so conventional in their limited thinking and approach.

    My personal opinion of "Behold, Eck!" is that in comparison to the more accomplished, compelling efforts like "The Architects of Fear," "The Sixth Finger," The Man Who Was Never Born," "O.B.I.T.", "Corpus Earthling," "Nightmare" and "A Feasiblity Study" the former is quite trivial and inept.

    But the anthology format in itself allows (or encourages) a diversity of thematic ideas and aesthetic styles. So is who is to judge what is good or bad?

    Joseph Stefano permitted the production of "Specimen Unknown" surely the single most embarrassingly wretched first season OL presentation to be sure.

  54. I just saw it again tonight. The sibling rivalry might wear a little thin, but it's still maybe one of the BETTER things. All through the episode, I keep expecting either Hayes or Baer to hit the other with "Mom always did like you best!"

  55. Lighten up guys, as a adolescent when in was first aired it was one my favorite episodes. The concept was pretty cool production flaws were easy to overlook and just enjoy for what it was

  56. I saw it again last night, and I still have a problem with the dark stuff that feels "plopped" into it, especially the one fatality - since the story doesn't even show it happening (only the "crime scene" afterwards), what on earth was gained by making it a fatality?! But apart from that big thing, I'm almost as fond of it as Anonymous.

    I think if you can name a second Babe of the Week, Marcel Herbert as Miss Willett is cute. She may be no Joan Freeman, but when it comes to attractive secretaries, she's probably a lot more that comically stuffy Bernie had any reason to expect.

  57. Speaking of comparing it to earlier episodes, when Eck goes on that accidental "rampage" in the middle of the story, you get to see the radio tower from THE GALAXY BEING explode all over again. That's one bit of reused footage I never seem to hear mentioned.

  58. Oh dear God.... Eck, what are we going to do with you?.... One of the very worst season 2 eps....

    Oh Eck, you're wonderful! Indeed... Ick...

  59. I just realized that "Behold Eck" would be "Ecce Eck" in Latin (like "Ecce Homo"), which is pronounced "Eck-ey Eck."

  60. Well, if a series has to have a worst episode (and every one does) it might as well be a doozy. And I thought Counterweight was bad. Nuff said

  61. At the very least, Eck accidentally brings James and Elizabeth together by the end of the story (at least, you can be pretty sure that their purely professional relationship is over). The truck driver and the welder and all those anonymous people in the hospital might not feel so gushy about that, but it's still nice.

  62. Though I never actually hated this episode, I've always been glad that it wasn't the very last one. It was bad enough that the series only ran two seasons but somehow Eck, Robert Johnson's voicing and Harry Lubin's theremin in this episode would have tripled the sadness. At least the Probe made me laugh in some spots.

  63. I liked this one s lot. Good performance by Peter Lind Hayes as the nerdy scientist. Hopefully he has finally realized his hot assistant is into him. I liked the scenes with his brother, they're kind of funny. The two look like they could be brothers. The Eck creature is visually interesting to me, nice job. It's also funny when he tries to make contact with the two dimensions newsman. 3 Zantis.


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