Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

The Outer Limits

Written by James Vaughan • November 6th, 2013
The Outer Limits

1963 – 1965 The Outer Limits

For those who watched the original Outer Limits on flickering black and white screens in the early 1960’s the experience is imprinted on a section of our brain labeled awe and terror.

Baby-Boomers have deep and dark memories from The Outer Limits original airing or early re-runs. With tilted camera angles, nerve jarring close-ups and shadowy surreal sets; many episodes of Outer Limits already had the feel of half remembered nightmares.

Mentioning of the series at a party will instantly produce a huddle of victims anxious to share their collective traumas. In excited whispers, they will piece together jig-saw puzzles of complete episodes. Contents of the collective closets of their childhood terrors.

The Outer Limits was on past my bedtime. It was also went through parental review and judged too scary and weird for my young and impressionable psyche. But my much older, semi-beatnik, sister was a prime target audience and devoted fan. As a recognition of her special status and royal temperament, she had her own TV in her room. So it was, from across the hall, I heard  rather than saw my first encounters with The Outer Limits episodes!

Sleep was impossible after I heard the series opening  ‘control voice’ . Vast and incomprehensible powers had seized control of my sister’s  television set. I sat frozen in the darkness imagining the slimy, alien invaders crawling out of the TV screen just across the hall.

Hopelessly hypnotized I would get out of bed and traverse the vast dark distances to put my ear to my the door for a better listen.  When you are seven years old, standing alone in a cold dark hallway, listening to the sound of monsters is about the scariest thing you can do. That is; unless your big sister catches you listening at her door to The Outer Limits. Then she makes you come in and watch the monsters with her!

To multiply the experience, and contrary to the grave cautions of leading ophthalmologists, my sister watched TV in the dark! There we sat; huddled together watching, perched at the edge of her bed. Alone together in a world lit only by the flickering blue light of the terrors on the television screen.

In retrospect maybe I was a pawn in a larger plot. Little brothers are a powerful deterrent. In the well-tested rules of horror and science fiction, no teenage girl was ever harmed by monsters or aliens while in the company of their impressionable seven year old brother. It is a sub-paragraph in the Creepy Creatures Union contract.

“You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.”

The Outer Limits ran for forty-nine, hour long, episodes on ABC television from 1963 to 1965. Created by Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano. The ‘control voice’ was done by Vic Perrin; who also did many of the voices on ‘Jonny Quest’.

Above: 1963- The Outer Limits – Borderland

Above: 1963 – The Outer Limits- The Galaxy Being

Above: 1963 – The Outer Limits- Sixth Finger

Above: 1963 – The Outer Limits- Nightmare

Above: 1963 – The Outer Limits- It Crawled Out of the Woodwork

Above: 1964 – Outer Limits- Wolf 359

Above: 1964 – The Outer Limits- Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Above: 1964- The Outer Limits … The Mutant

James Vaughan

James Vaughan was born in 1955, resides in Ohio and has taught at Kent State University. James spends his days photographing conceptual and editorial style studio photography.

Find out more about James Vaughan

  • Steve Mills

    I didn’t catch it until reruns in the ’70s, late at night on a local channel in southeastern Iowa. I instantly liked it better than Twilight Zone, mainly because Limits just gets right to the point without so much drama and psychology. Yes, there were many good Zones, but Limits had the monsters; the Zanti Misfits, the Galaxy Being (incredibly spooky sound accompanies him), or the big blobby thing in the “Don’t Open Till Doomsday” box. Those are the things adolescent boys stay up late for with a bag of Doritos and a glass of Pepsi.

  • Diane Moro

    I was about 10 when I began watching it and to this day it scares me…I picked up some dvds on Amazon…awesome.

  • JBL

    I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime one night a week. That was Monday night, of course, after seeing the advertisements for OL. It was a one-time-thing, a product of its time, the brainchild of a never-to-be-repeated conclave of artists, unified behind the vision, and active at a time when television was open to experimentation. The second season dispersed much of the artistic talent and the show suffered accordingly, but even then a few gems helmed by Harlan Ellison and Seeleg Lester made it through the new, far less imaginative regimen.

    The 1990s reboot had quite a few successful episodes, but there was no way it could have duplicated the incredible experience of that first glorious season, the season of the Zanti Misfits, of the Man Who Was Never Born, of the It that Crawled Out of the Woodwork, and into a vacuum cleaner, and from there into the memories of a million baby boomers like myself.

  • Pingback: Best TV Shows of the 1950s and 1960s Part Four: The Outer Limits | charles french words reading and writing()

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