Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Guests

Production Order #29
Broadcast Order #26
Original Airdate: 3/23/64
Starring Geoffrey Horne, Nellie Burt, Vaughn Taylor
Written by Donald S. Sanford, based on a teleplay by Charles Beaumont.
Directed by Paul Stanley. 

Drifter Wade Norton (Horne) stumbles across an old man on the side of the road, and in an attempt to help him, gets trapped in a gothic mansion filled with eccentric characters and a strange force upstairs. 

JS: We're proud to present another WACT exclusive—the never-before seen Control Voice script that was removed prior to the broadcast of this episode:
Throughout history, men and women have come together to share a common bond, drawn together by unseen forces and held together for reasons the Earth's greatest scientists have been unable to comprehend. What if this alien force attracted another alien force, a force so alien that it was not limited by man's lack of understanding and scientific inability to comprehend. Perhaps that alien force would find that the answers to such questions do not come so easily. This is one such story.
PE: I thought Wade Norton might come around that corner in his sports car too fast and run over the street workers from "The Man with the Power."

JS: I was thrilled to see our old pal Burt Mustin, if only in a brief cameo, sprinting like he were a young whipper-snapper.

PE: I'm sure the OL-ites may disagree but with its shadows, creepy photography (and equally creepy angles), weirdo veteran actor turns, and Donald S. Sanford for gosh sakes, this is the closest we get to a Thriller cross-over in the OL world. A crappy Thriller but a Thriller nonetheless. With a few more cobwebs and pigeons...

JS: I don't know, Peter. I think an attic full of pigeons might have been preferable to a pile of... what the hell is that... Chromoite droppings? And what's with the tongue-in-cheek dialogue delivery? It felt like a poor man's attempt at doing Paul Frees as the Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Once again, a bear let down by an unconvincing human voice, in my opinion.

PE: There are a couple pluses here: Ya gotta love that throbbing soundtrack that pops up now and then (as when Wade makes his way to Basil Wolverton's Brain Mansion).

JS: I thought it was sad was that Brain Mansion looked more realistic than the house!

PE: How many baths would a brain mansion have? Also, the Let's Make a Deal door #1/door #2 sequence with Wade and Tess is nicely lit and shot and very atmospheric; Nellie Burt's parrot act can be grating but I found it eccentric enough to be enjoyable (She had some great lines, too! -JS); and that's a very cool cemetery set. Other than these assets, this is a waste of time as opposed to some of the episodes that could be considered nice time-wasters. I defy any of the OL-Kids to tell me this was one that they have fond memories of. It resembles one of those Corman flicks (in particular, The Terror) you find out years later was made with the money left over because the caterer never collected his pay.

JS: Horne really sells the scene where he's getting dragged backwards up the stairs against his will. I thought he gave a fine performance, and fared much better under the spotlight than our friend, the... thing. Did Peach think turning a light on and off was really the most effective way to bring this bear to life?

PE: I'm not spoiling anything here by revealing that Gloria Grahame has an outie.

JS: Another favorite actor hanging out in the old dark house is the always enjoyable Vaughn Taylor. It's amusing that love was not an emotion common around the house when you consider there was a married couple stuck in it for the duration. Just what are you trying to say about marriage, Sanford?

PE: L-OL dialogue alert (you're wondering how I can narrow it down to just one snippet when there's a veritable garden to pick from):
Wade: Do I make you uncomfortable, Theresa?
Tess: I'm usually called simply Tess.
Wade: Oh no, not simply. Your name should never be spoken simply, With simplicity and serenity but never with simpleness.
Tess (giggles)
Wade: Am I funny, Tess?
Tess: You play with words...but I admire you for it.
Wade: Don't. Words are weapons. You wouldn't admire me if I was playing with an atom bomb.
JS: Yeah, talk about ruining the mood of a good cemetery scene. Things bounce back a bit after Tess makes her way beyond the gate, but then crater when the alien presence makes its closing speech.

PE: Okay, one more quote: "Never interrogate the wind"

JS: Did Joe Stefano get his hands on this script? This doesn't sound like Don Thriller Sanford to me.

PE: Nellie Burt: "Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish." Amen, Nellie!

JS: The Control Voice closing narration, also omitted from all broadcast copies of the episode, rings hauntingly familiar all these years later:
Throughout history, we are continually reminded that there's nothing you can know that isn't known. Nothing you can see that isn't shown. Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy. All you need

David J. Schow on "The Guests":

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

Geoffrey Horne with Jane Fonda, circa April 2009


Right after the opening teaser
We meet a decrepit old geezer
And that sickening sound
When his head hit the ground
Means he should have been kept in a freezer.

There's a mansion that looks like a brain
And it's home to a cast that's insane.
That Virginia-baked ham
Is ol' Gloria Grahame
Who exudes existentialist pain.

The creature who lives in the attic
Is lit in a style quite dramatic
So the characters blab
To this gelatinous slab
Of matters obscure and dogmatic.

To add to this curious mess
A drifter discovers young Tess
Too much of this drivel
Our lassie did shrivel
So lover boy left in distress.

So next time you turn on the tellie
You won't see Vaughan Taylor or Nellie
For they and their kind
Surrendered their mind
To an alien bowl-full of jelly.

Be sure to check back later today for John Kenneth Muir's Spotlight on "The Guests."

Next Up...


  1. All fans of “The Guests” are hereby required to go back to our fabulous predecessor, the Thrilla-A-Day blog, and bone up on the work of Donald Sanford. Further, you are summarily required to purchase the deeply wonderful THRILLER DVD boxed set, featuring incisive audio commentary by Steve Mitchell, Gary Gerani, Larry Blamire VIDEO WATCHDOG’s Tim Lucas, among other luminaries and some guy named DJS. Plug ends.

    Nellie Burt simply OWNS this episode. She has a bit as Martin Landau’s housekeeper in THE HAUNTED pilot, and it would have been nice to see her as a semi-regular on this never-realized series.

    #2 slot goes to Robert Johnson, again, for his lusty rendition of the inquisitive alien, with the slight hint of British diction to differentiate him from the Senator. This and “Fun and Games” are the high watermarks of his nascent “play for pay” sub-career … and one of the reasons Bob Justman thought of him when MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE needed a distinctive tape recorder voice. The rest is TV history.

    Special Merit Award to Project Unlimited, for figuring out how to RECYCLE a previous alien — the Chromoite — to 100% better effect. It’s all in the lighting. And the wet-down.

    Citation of Noteworthiness to Paul Stanley, who proved that a non-Stefano, non-Hall, non-Oswald episode could Goth it up with the best of them. Not much is known about this journeyman TV director, whose broad swath cut from 1956 to 1987. I never got to interview him. He died in 2002. Anybody know more?

    Geoffrey Horne, of course, everyone remembers from BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. He’s currently an acting coach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute … and “The Guests”’ sole surviving cast member.

    For an episode tracked instead of scored, "The Guests" wins the Big Moby Soundscape Prize. The music is arguably more of the total canvas here than in any other OUTER LIMITS episode (with the POSSIBLE exception of "Nightmare," bits of which it re-uses) — the house seems to "breathe," then pulsate with ominous portent, and the strategically-placed patches of silence are deafening, suffocating, claustrophobic.

    "The Guests" is the kind of one-off aberration that was possible within THE OUTER LIMITS — it fit, yet was different.

  2. Okay, I’ll make the sacrificial leap here and admit I’m a sucker for this one. It goes in my top five. I believe in this ‘instant romance,’ which still comes off effectively because of the performers. I dig the expressionist lighting in the hall of doorways (and enjoyed reading how it was done in the DJS notes). The house/brain image resonates powerfully in my psyche (and in my own dreams). The little music embellishments hit the right heartstrings. The opening scene of the aged escapee turning to dust is a terrific tease. Just call me another dreamer because it's all “Terrific terrific terrific” I say.

    And I’ll never forget when I first saw this as a kid and Wade closed the gate again after watching Tess turn to dust. I was screaming, “NO! Go, go, GO!” And Stefano or Stevens obviously thought enough of the story by itself to say, hey, we don’t need no stinkin’ control voice here.

    There’s a bit of evidence suggesting Stefano tampered with this when we hear almost the exact same line we heard about Dave Crowell in “Second Chance,” where Wade is asked “Where are you drifting to,” and it’s amended to “drifting from.”

    But if Joe Stefano was being dosed by his psychiatrist at his Freudian analysis sessions, Don Stanford was chewing psilocybin at his Carl Jung sessions. Any more shout outs to dreams, illusions, more dreams and more illusions and my archetype would have imploded.

    No entities in classic television talk or speechify more than OL aliens, so it’s a damn good thing and a remarkable coincidence they all had such primo voiceover voices. I guess the Wally Cox voice aliens all got gigs on The Twilight Zone.

  3. The next drifter showing up in a TOL episode and being asked "Where are you drifting to, or from?" I expect to answer, "Where've you got?"

  4. This one flirts with the top ten for me, hanging on the fringe, threatening to bust in. I love it--the whole dreamlike trip. The seemingly disparate elements do mesh (as DJS says), but then so much of OL is that strange blend of sci-fi and horror. And I think it helps that it is possibly the best music tracking of any episode. And I would love someone (Larry R? DJS?) to pinpoint that gorgeous piece when Luana Anders leaves the cemetery gate.

    Speaking of Anders, I think her somewhat fragile quality works well here. And Horne fares better here than in his TWILIGHT ZONE.

    And speaking of The Zone: the fascinating genesis of this script brings up Beaumont's "Valley of the Shadow", which I've always felt came closest to OUTER LIMITS than any other one-hour TWILIGHT ZONE.

    Love the crazy corridors (which reminds me of a great AVENGERS episode with Mrs. Peel trapped in "The House That Jack Built"), the clever and effective recycle of the Chromoite, that creepy low register piano "heartbeat" of the house/brain, the brain-house itself--a wonderful pulp-scifi kind of image, Burt, Taylor, Grahame--it's all good.

    And once again, Kenneth are redeemed!

    Three and half Zanties.

  5. It wasn't that long ago that Gloria Grahame was a star acting in excellent films like IN A LONELY PLACE, THE BIG HEAT, and THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL(she even won an oscar). Now here she is slinking around like a has been in a haunted house movie. I understand she had a complex about her lips or mouth, but I couldn't see what the problem was. I guess she recovered from the hot pot of coffee that Lee Marvin tossed in her face.

    Another lost episode of THRILLER. I loved the ending when the alien shuts down and everyone starts screaming.

  6. A personal favorite, definitely in my top five.

    Sanford's dialogue is some of the sharpest of the series, even with Wade's lame flirtation and Florida Patton's schizo navel-gazing; it makes me want to revisit his Thriller episodes. Kenneth Peach outdoes himself, too, and along with his work on "Second Chance" and "Fun and Games" (and the upcoming "The Chameleon"), this makes me realize I've underestimated him. So what explains the shitty-looking second season? Cheap-ass ABC, I imagine.

    The cast is great all around (I stumbled on Geoffrey Horne in an episode of The Green Hornet a couple of months ago and he's a decent comic actor), and Paul Stanley does some inventive work as well. I especially like the way the guests never quite enter or leave a room Wade's in -- like in a dream, they're just suddenly there or not there... beautiful stuff.

    Aside from all this (and the almost literally hypnotic music and sound tracks), "The Guests" works as a kind of OL first-season dissertation, or at least as a good distillation of many of its pet themes: connection vs. resignation, illusion vs. reality, etc. More evidence of Stefano's influence, maybe. Either way, it's sad to see his tenure coming to an end.

    Sorry the episode didn't do more for you, John and Peter, even with its Thriller connection and vibe. As for fond memories, I distinctly remember the scene where Wade discovers that the door and windows of casa cerebro have disappeared freaking me the fuck out. Gus the Fireman bolting out of the woods and disintegrating stuck with me, too; at the time he really did seem like the oldest man I'd ever seen.

    Nice job with the Control Voice intro/outro, by the way -- although now I'll never be able to listen to a Beatles song without hearing it in Vic Perrin's voice, with the sine-wave buzz in the background.

  7. Cool show, for all the above reasons. And yeah, those unused Control Voice speeches are unexpected little gems -- thanks, guys! All you need is love, indeed...

  8. Everything I wanted to say has been said, so I'll just add my appreciation for this episode, with special acknowledgment of the music and the direction/photography. Props to John for the Burt Mustin callout, to Peter for Wolverton, and to Hollywoodaholic for "where've you got" (LOL). I'm also with Walker Martin for finding the ending pretty chilling, when the lights start going down . . .

  9. What follows feels like cinematic poetry... The camera first heading to the creature's cranium, followed by a cut to outdoors and another great push-in, this time on Wade, watching... watching as the House transforms into its true "alien brain" self, then again transfoms into... nothingness. Back to a renewed Wade Norton, clutching his memento of love and hope, turning to face the world even as OL's triumphant, yet ultimately dark, main theme ushers us out, minus narration.


  10. THE OLD DARK HOUSE goes on the couch to see what decrepit sentiments lurk in its shadows and cobwebbed corners.

    In this stylish piece of surrealism, groaning and pulsing with guilt and despair (in accusing low strings), is humanity on trial for having lost its way? is our uncommitted "drifter," Wade Norton, being psychically strip-searched for his contribution to human value? or are we all trapped in the puzzling dream of a towering alien intellect? of a god randomly judging the human race's worth?

    Ultimately, the truth of the context doesn't matter, as we take from the narrative the haunting observation that the veils of illusion must be parted, if life is to be embraced.

    An eerily complex meditation, generated by Beaumont and percolated through Sanford--two revered writers. A brooding soundtrack, some powerful dusty-manse lighting and set-ups by Stanley and Peach, aggressively referencing the series' signature visual ambience.

    The brain Mansion is the perfect decaying dowager house, from the clash of terrible wallpaper prints to the palable mustiness.

    The cast ranges from the solid (Horne), to the fitting (Anders, comfortably shrouded in Victorian opacity), to the brilliant caricaturists (Burt, Taylor and Grahame). Nellie Burt purloins her scenes like the best gaslight scolds. (Her "dream a life and live a dream" soliloquy is priceless. And how about the perverse irony of "Shut up, Randall, or I'll be nice to you"!)

    I've always thought Grahame's "My Madcap Heart" bit was a sharp little knife-twist: we, too, are momentarily fooled into believing her suddenly sincere. She seems to have enjoyed the whole gig, slathering mustard on her ham and devouring it with the scenery.

    Was Burt Mustin EVER young? He's Father Time with the face of a barn owl.

    Throbbing creepiness abounds: the moist Chromoite-bust portraying an eagerly seeking Brain (love the "jelly-tingle" effect when Wade and Tess kiss); the video-show "thought balloons" of human good and evil; the crowding shadows that smother Wade at the stairwell; the jagged matte shots, the convoluted spaces, the colonnades in the black void, the endless doors into nothing---except a densely packed cemetery; the way an abrupt smothering silence means that "It" is momentarily distracted---

    It's a compendium of so much of the style and tone that made TOL stand out from all other shows.

    Bob Johnson's Brain-voice here always reminds me of that of the intellectual overlord of JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET.

    Essentially, from the time Wade leaves his car to the time he presumably returns, nothing has happened, materially, in "The Guests." The dust has settled, the dreamer has awakened, and "OK, the human race has a future---just checking!"

    But how much as transpired on a spiritual plane during that long, momentous sleep?

  11. Wait a minute.....kookiness in a haunted house? Is this the Outer Limits I'm watching? Yes. Yes it is, and a damn good one. Well maybe not 4 Zantis, more like 3. I found this to be a fun one. I may even declare that this ep. has the best soundtrack of all of them! A bold statement maybe, however, this brings back childhood memories of listening to haunted house soundtracks, in the early 80's, when I was a wee one.

    I know some have compared the main character to the oncoming 60's rebel set. To me, he's more like a 70's vagabond, drifting with no purpose, yet, because of his rolling stone status, can't help but be a focal point no matter where he goes or what he does.


    Come comment? Your one of my favorite posters.

  12. From the "OL essential" resolution-through-darkness of Fun And Games, to the "OL essential" resolution-through-love (even if unfulfilled) of The Guests. Peter and John, you never cease to surprise and entertain with your Zantis, but one and a half and two? Surely you jest! I have to say four (one being the Regent)! Very interesting CV narrations; even Lennon and McCartney owe a bundle to OL. I agree with the assertion that the music is very integral to this episode- please a Vol.2 soundtrack with this and some of the O.B.I.T./ Woodwork pieces! The visual contrasts are very satisfying; for example going from the claustrophobia of the house through the confusion of the maze, to the strange beauty of the graveyard (I always think of it more as a garden). There's something very powerful about the innocent love that neither Tess nor Wade expected to find; the courage it gives Tess to leave, knowing she's going to die but wanting to save Wade, his willingness to sacrifice his freedom to stay with her. I always wondered if the alien, given it's powers over space and time, could have given Tess her life back- would this have diminished the impact of the ending? I don't know. Actually the Brain Creature is more indifferent than theSenator was; he at least, seemed to acknowledge Mike and Laura's shortcomings and point them in a direction that might help them. What did the the people do in that house all those years? It's interesting to imagine them trying to pass the time, desperately trying not to go crazy. And I guess we must continue with the nominations. The lovely Tess is an OL babe to be reckoned with. (How would she have fared in the 1960's, had she been able to leave the house?)

  13. UTW--
    Just got home; I actually had to do some real work today. I (ahem...) did a little advance work on this episode a few days ago, and just posted some comments on John K. Muir's excellent "Spotlite on The Guests".

    I've always like this show a bunch--the best of the later 1st Season episodes, in my opinion. I echo all of the above-posted sentiments, and can only continue to marvel at the sheer imagination, lyrical tone, and visual beauty that envelops the viewer from first frame to last.

    True, it's got a few few spots that are TOO deliberately-paced, plus a couple of real GROANERS in the dialogue, (and the character of Florida Patton quickly becomes tiresome for me), BUT--once again, TOL has left us a fabulously imaginative, one-of-a-kind TV experience.

    Tons of other influences mixed together in this show (as many of the other posters have noted); even TOL itself is recalled. Distinct similarities between "Guests" and "Doomsday": creepy old house with an alien hanging out upstairs--both of them coincidentally sounding like Robert Johnson, a pair of young lovers, a crazed older woman (or two) who's been in the house since the 1920's, etc.

    As DJS notes, the soundtrack is a mighty impressive assemblage of previous cues that sound as if they were originally intended for this specific show (as of late, the standard Frontiere cues have started to sound awfully routine in their usage). The plaintive, yearning love theme is nicely showcased here. When Roger Farris was sending me the Frontiere scores in 1985, I actually wrote out this beautiful melody (by ear) in one of the letters I sent to him, asking about its origin. When I called him, I asked "did you recognize the melody that I wrote out in my letter?" "It was called 'Soames' Theme' he immediately responded; Dom wrote it for an episode of "Stoney Burke." (Unfortunately, Roger did NOT have this score in his possession). Then there's the pulsating alien-glob music (which Frontiere wrote for "Nightmare" under the title "Betty Loop"), heard to great effect here whenever the quivering attic blob comes a-callin'.

    Love the expressionistic visuals as Geoffrey explores the house; technically simple but wonderfully effective for the small screen; I mean---who ever tried anything like this for TV before?? And even though they seem a bit like padding, I'd rather lose myself in the mesmeric quality of these pantomime sequences than listen to the occasionally stilted and self-conscicously arty dialogue that falls rather clumsily upon the ear in other scenes.

    Overall, though---a standout show, which demonstrates that the peculiar Stefanoesque/Hall magic could be captured quite effectively without their direct involvement. I enjoy "The Guests" every time I come back to it.


    PS - Too bad that the soundtracks are so CRAPPY on these Dvds; they are in desparate need of remastering. My old tv cassette recording from 1979 sounded better than this!

    1. I finally have all the episodes on DVD, and yes, that's the one fly in the ointment.

  14. WHAT'S THIS ... ?!

    Can it be the first NEW Outre Limerick in the better part of a decade?

  15. The old dark house indeed...eerie, a passel of eccentrics and a sweet time-lost romance. Great actors. Definitely a weird one but effective and memorable. It's episodes like this that make some people mix up OL and Twilight Zone, I think. The doomed-in-time love story feels TZ-ish.

    When we did a Gloria Grahame-a-rama on TCM's Movie Morlock's blog a while back, I did Grahame's TV work and featured "The Guests" -- naturally!

    It's good that so many really like this episode!

  16. Classic episode!! Thought y'all might be interested in the documentary we just released about Charles Beaumont (who wrote the teleplay). He died of premature aging and early onset dementia at the age of 37. In fact, he was already well into the disease when this episode aired. Check out our website:

    1. Quite correct:Charles Beaumont lived between 1929 and 1967, and died several weeks before his 38th birthday.What a blow to the fantasy genre to lose such a skilled writer.

  17. A poster on IMDb compared the STAR TREK pilot "The Cage" to "The Guests" —

    "It's the same premise: group of people trapped in a prison by alien beings, dreaming their lives rather than living them, the pretty girl who is actually extremely old, and whose condition is revealed at the story's end."

    I never thought of it that way before. Even though I'm the last person in the world to trust IMDb.

  18. I don't know if it's been brought up already, but does anyone know anything about those out-of-place background voices you hear in that "cemetary" scene? (I know it sounds like I'm trying to be spooky by connecting those two things, but I'm sure you can hear one or more accidental voices for a moment or more.)

  19. Am I the only one who has ever made this connection with this episode. There was another TV series on at the time. It had a drifter/sailor, the everyman whom we the audience identify with, an old couple with the guy being involved in finance, the beautiful actress who got stranded here and just wants to get back to her rolls on the stage and screen, the innocent girl, and the brain who sort of watches over things. And they are all stranded in this place together. Does anyone know what series I am talking about?

    1. Does "the brain" look like one of the astronauts in "Specimen: Unknown"?

  20. " I defy any of the OL-Kids to tell me this was one that they have fond memories of."

    The Guests is the one OL episode of which I have the fondest memories. Defiance met.

    I saw this episode as a kid. The opening scenes freaked me out and were burned into my memory. I was forever corrupted in the right direction, into a fanatic of the incomprehensibly frightening and inexplicable. Thank you Outer Limits!

    If only other TV programs dared to be so profoundly confrontational. The closest thing we have at this point in time is the brilliant series "Fringe", oddly broadcast by the dysfunctionally neo-con-job Fox network. Who could imagine.

  21. I may not be able to actually make Derek's claim, but I'm glad to see it, because I think The Guests is a great episode.

  22. 0 Zantis. I disliked this more than you did. It seems more like a Zone, and a padded one at that. What a waste of the great Gloria Grahame. It becomes tedious and preachy, the only slightly imaginative touch is the drifter's walk through the surreal highway. Not a great blob/bear, plus we've seen enough of those. I noticed they didn't include any closing narration in the last 2-3 episodes.

  23. A Fugitive vibe in this one? Wade Norton isn't on the run from anything in particular except from maybe what they used to call the "straight life" (no, I don't mean it was that way) behind. There's no Lt. Girard in pursuit but there are similarities between Norton and Richard Kimble, as each learns from his plight/flight, while others remain stuck, though in The Guests they are freed (and die), while in The Fugitive eps they just return to life as usual. The Fugitive often offered critiques of mid-20th century bourgeois life, as do, more pointedly, does The Guest, in its implications anyway.

  24. Great never-before-heard (and never again) musical tracks in this one (especially in the ending cemetery scenes) which I had always wondered about, but I finally got my answer here thanks to the ever-knowledgeable Mr Rapchak : those tracks were STONEY BURKE's originals ! Can we assume the same holds true for the fantastic ZANTI MISFITS score which was NEVER included in any of the OL Soundtrack albums ? Same for that haunting theme heard in WOODWORK (when Stu returns to the hotel with his brand new pacemaker) and in OBIT (right after Dr Scott replies on the witness stand : - Mr Byron Lomax !). Was that also a STONEY BURKE theme ??

  25. So many fascinating-- and wild-- comparisons. THRILLER. THE TWILIGHT ZONE. "The Cage". GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (for God's sake!!!!!). Crazy.

    This is another one I saw when I was 4. I remember the old man. The "brain". The old house. The weird people. The STAIRWAY. What the-- no, seriously, WHAT THE HELL?????

    In some ways, this was both more watchable, yet more disturbing-- than "Don't Open Till Doomsday". Clearly, "variations on a theme". Perfectly-matched "bookends" you could run as a double-feature one night if you were in that sick kind of a mood. Of the two, I MUCH prefer this. Who'd think someone else could out-do Stefano?

    I HATED this as a kid. When I caught it in the mid-70s, I still hated it. THE OUTER LIMITS tends to be a "science-fiction" show, albeit one with a dark, nightmarish tone to it. But generally, they make sense. This one DIDN'T. Not that I could see.

    Then, the night I came home from seeing "DRESSED TO KILL" (with Angie Dickenson, Michael Caine, and Nancy Allen), I got home JUST as this was coming on. My Mom (the one who introduced me to horror movies in the first place!!) was sitting in the living room, lights out, the TV on, and the teaser for THIS just popped on. I looked, shocked, horrified, and said to myself, "Oh my GOD-- it's THIS one!!!" And... I sat down to watch it WITH my Mom!!

    That night, I really paid close attention, and no doubt, I picked up on tons of details and nuances I never could have as a little kid. I didn't think I came to actually like it that night... but I did come to appreciate it.

    Years later, I caught it again when I rented and copied all the 1st season on videotape. I've seen it several times since, each time it gets better.

    Like "Doomsday", with the haunted house, the trapped people, the space where time stands still, and the F***ING WEIRD-looking alien in control of it all, the most elusive thing about this story is the "why". Between the two, the "explanation" in "Doomsday" is somehow easier to comprehend, but makes no sense. This one, I sense (but I'm still not sure) makes more sense, but is harder to fully grasp and understand. Oh well.

    I've gotten to really like Luana Anders in "PIT AND THE PENDULUM". I've seen that now more times than this (especially since getting a nice sharp widescreen copy off of TCM).

    Nellie Burt being in both this and "Doomsday" really makes this seem like not only a thematic variation, but a sequel. Crazy, huh?

    Vaughn Taylor strikes me as a dead ringer for my favorite boss, a guy I worked for for 8-1/2 years back in the 1980s. (I used to joke he reminded me of Lee Van Cleef, but Taylor actually looks much more like him.)

    There's one more story where I see a parallel... and it's the Italian film, "CASTLE OF BLOOD". Young guy spends the night in a haunted house, falls in love with a girl who's not as "young" as she seems (actually, she's DEAD), and at the end, she tries to help him escape, through the CEMETERY that surrounds the house. That and this were made the SAME year!!! What the heck was in the water?

  26. Quite correct, Ms.Psyche:Charles Beaumont(1929-1967) died within weeks of his 38th birthday.What a devastating loss to the world of fantasy literature and TV.

  27. Quite correct, Ms.Psyche:Charles Beaumont(1929-1967) died within weeks of his 38th birthday.What a devastating loss to the world of fantasy literature and TV.

  28. Did those "All You Need is Love" lines REALLY originate in "The Guests" or are you just pulling our pseudopod?

  29. I’m of mixed emotions about this one. There’s a lot to like here, but also some drawbacks to the story.

    The positives? I loved the look of this episode. The dramatically lit interiors merge from the classic Victorian haunted house to a series of bizarre, surreal, abstract mazes. The cast was impressive, too; they got a real name there, with the participation of Gloria Grahame. (Nellie Burt seems so familiar as well, but looking over her filmography I see that I haven’t really viewed very much of her work at all. Perhaps I’m getting her confused with Una Merkel.) There’s been a lot of talk about “TOL babes,” but in this case we have a real “TOL hunk” in lead Jeffrey Horne. He’s one of the best-looking fellows to appear on the show yet and he’s just fine in the part, though he could have been given a better script to work with.

    And that’s the problem here. Now, I love the concept. (Though the idea of a disparate group of people trapped in a house through a supernatural agency is perhaps a bit well-worn. The idea of being trapped in an alternate reality for years, and being unable to leave without turning to dust, is also a story idea that’s been used more than a few times.) But---I thought a lot of the dialogue was highly artificial, in an attempt to be “artistic.” And I never did really understand just what the alien being was trying to figure out, in its observation of the humans. Basically, everything it said sounded just like so much nonsense to me. I couldn’t help but groan when it came up with the rather trite “all you need is love” concept at the end. (That’s another old-hat concept that I’ve seen used in sci-fi drama more than once: aliens are confused/amazed/surprised by the human emotion of love.) And honestly, haven’t several other Outer Limits episodes ended with a similar “aww, love” sentiment?

    So, yeah, another middling episode for me---but it’s one that I liked, rather than one that I didn’t.

    Oh, we see the “Meet Me in St. Louis” house again here, from the MGM back lot, which had last appeared in “The Man Who Was Never Born.”

  30. Thank you ALL for your amazing commentary. Unlike the Alien of the Week , I'm no Brain. Does anyone know the meaning of the Cemetary?

    1. Perhaps it's part of the alien's conception of what should be on the property of a large house. And/or it could act as a reminder to the inhabitants that venturing beyond that gate means a quick but certain demise-though that might well happen anyway once ".. our host finds what he's looking for", said Mrs. Latimer.

  31. I'm answering that question very late, and it isn't really an answer at all, since I don't know the meaning of the cemetery. All I know is that it's a kind of "icing on the cake" when it comes to all the spookiness.

  32. I hated this 12 years ago and still do. I watched it again because DJS praised it in the book with the DVD set but I found it tedious, in it's house bound set it could be a play- a really bad one, like an hour long version something Leonard Pimp-Garnell on the old Saturday night live would parody. A good set but a tiresome episode for me.

  33. For me this episode works because of Robert Johnson's incomparable voicing of the alien, and the concept of its ability to freeze time to find what its seeking. This, Abeles' fine casting, the dark noirish interiors (contrasted with the natural outdoor daylight) and Frontiere's as always magical scoring-created and an odd and alluring atmosphere. I really love it!

  34. Oddly (??), there are several things about this episode that are more than just spooky and eerie that take me far back-and which strongly align with this. Enjoy.


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