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Nightmare Fuel / The Outer Limits (1963)

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You would think all The Outer Limits (1963) dated costumes and special effects would look silly in the present day, but some of those monsters can still freeze your blood. It must have been the scariest thing on TV at its time.

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.


  • The Pilot episode, "The Galaxy Being" right off the bat absolutely horrifies with how hard it hits the Uncanny Valley. It is an ingenious display of practical special effects before a time when there was blue screen or CGI (they soaked a black costume in mineral oil and filmed it in an all white room and then applied inverse 'X-ray' style lighting effects...) Simple, and yet done so artistically, it is nightmarish beyond compare. Its presence is accompanied with such inhuman metallic roars, and the being acts almost tornado-like in nature whenever it enters a room. It emits fatal radiation, and once its alien voice becomes translated into human speech for the protagonists' benefit, it is not any much better....it only sounds like a robot being strangled violently in a dark sewer underground.
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  • Robert Culp gets transformed into a space creature in "The Architects Of Fear", and the flashes of his gradual changes are shocking to see (Culp's performance is a big part of it). The final monster is really a piece of Nightmare Fuel, and it's only a mild example. The "Thetan" from was considered by several ABC affiliates to be so terrifying in appearance, that they blacked out the screen each time it appeared!
  • "Nightmare" is every bit as frightening as the title suggests; it's a Prisoner of War story set in space, with a Multinational Team of human soldiers held captive on the planet Ebon. The Ebonites (one of whom is shown above) are scary in several ways: they look like giant, demonic, humanoid bats; they speak with high, reedy, mechanical voices; they carry wands that can negate any of the five senses; and they use both physical and psychological warfare on the prisoners. They definitely do not make for pleasant bedtime contemplation. Oh, and it hits you with one heck of a Downer Ending: one prisoner and one general die in what's revealed to be a botched charade by the human military, who had been using the torture as a Secret Test of their own troops!
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  • The ending of "The Man Who Was Never Born"; while it counts as a Bittersweet Ending since Andro succeeded in his quest to undo the Bad Future he came of, it ends up wiping him from existence, leaving Noelle alone in his spaceship, despairing as the ship floats into outer space and the film fades to black...
  • The Space Plants from "Specimen: Unknown" look harmless in appearance, but the effects they give on the astronauts, especially when they're trapped with them on the spaceship, tell otherwise. It turns out the flowers emit poison gas! It only gets worse by the climax when they show just how fast they can spread and grow. And when they're finally defeated by a sudden rainstorm, they're all screaming in pain and agony.
  • The frozen spectre of Private Gordon from "The Human Factor" is probably one of the most terrifying apparitions in the series, and It only appears in three brief scenes! The original "Chill Charlie" design was even more frightening!
  • The Luminoids from "A Feasibility Study", especially their first appearance coming out of the fog.
  • The fate of the Limbo Being from "The Premonition" (trapped in a Place Beyond Time/Void Between the Worlds), and his soliloquy about how horrible it is. Also the fact that the episode's protagonists threaten to set him on fire and don't even try to help him.
  • "Soldier" isn't too big on the scares, but the sight of the war torn future, the idea of two men literally having spent their whole lives doing nothing but wage war, and the sight of the enemy soldier painfully trapped in a loop between time isn't sweet dreams material. Not to mention that the enemy soldier's explosive entrance into the Kagan home, which comes out of the blue, is a real show stopping scene.
  • "Corpus Earthling" is about alien parasites disguised as rocks that transform into half-spider/half-crab Big Creepy-Crawlies to control human beings, causing Death of Personality when they take over. Particularly terrifying is the scene where the possessed Dr. Temple forces one of the parasites on Laurie Cameron, who screams a lot. The sequence is not too far off from a horrific rape or murder, and on some level it's both.

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