Monday, March 30, 2020

THE OUTER LIMITS / "The Mice" Season 1 Episode 15 - 1964

In today's story, an advanced civilization contacts the US to test both worlds' experimental teleportation systems, by exchanging a pair of citizens. Fearing the matter transport will fail, the military selects a prisoner serving a life sentence to be sent to the planet Chromos, 10 light years away from Earth. What could possibly go wrong?..

This one stars Henry Silva, Diana Sands, Michael Higgins, Ron Foster and Dabney Coleman. Henry Silva took drama classes at age 13, in 1955 he auditioned for the Actors Studio and was one of five students chosen out of more than 2500! Diana (A RAISIN IN THE SUN) Sands died at age 39. And, Dabney Coleman is still up and at 'em!

Well, here are the three prisoners brought before officials heading up the teleportation project. After being informed of what was required of them, only Chino, on the right, volunteers for the assignment after the two others decline the offer which includes possible freedom from prison.

Chino is moody and toys with the doctors a bit, it's a weird situation to be in. When the first exchange takes place of the creature from Chromos, he can think of nothing but escaping.

Well, the thing gets teleported to Earth okay but it spazzes out like a Curly, crashing into everything, knocking stuff over and more. It eventually escapes into the woods after getting through the door. It's tougher than it looks!

Chino sees his chance to escape during the commotion and ducks out of the lab. Unfortunately, he runs into a room and tries to jump out a window that has a force field and he gets knocked out cold.

Dr. Richardson is out at the pond in his spiffy 1963 Mercury Comet. He's there to destroy some weird growths he found the creature hiding in the water. And wouldn't you know it, the creepy old Chromoid darts in and kills the doc!

Then, Dr. Harrison sees the monster at the pond, eating slime it pulls out of the water...

It chases her back to the lab and she barely escapes its grasp...

In another room, Chino is set to teleport, but, something's amiss and the exchange fails. Chino faints and is put in a hospital bed to recover.

The creature goes into the lab and starts setting all the dials, preparing for an exchange back to Chromo would be my guess. Chino and the policeman watching him go to the lab to see what all the noise is about...

The thing knocks out the cop and then tosses Chino across the room, into the wall. The Chromoid then places the cop in the transfer location and sends him to Chromo!

Chino gets a gun and the monster attacks him! It's a battle to the death, but Chino holds the thing at bay with the pistol until more policemen arrive.

Dr. Kellander, head of the project, talks to the leader of the Chromoids and tells it that they were lying about their real purpose for the exchange. He says that they only needed to ask for help with their problems on Chromo, Earth would have gladly helped out, instead, they deceived the Earthlings and so the project failed. Yep, it's one of those kinds of endings, you should'a just asked...

And, it looks good for Chino to be released from prison, a free man!.. Check in again on Wednesday for more cool junk from The Dungeon!!..


K said...

A terrific episode that scared the p1$$ out of me as a kid, primarily thanks to the superb but horrible Chromite "garbage eater" alien. Diana Sands is remarkable, Henry Silva is fantastic, Michael Higgins as Dr. Kellander is amazing, and I'm running out of adjectives or whatever here in the wee hours.

I obtained a photocopy of the script long ago, bearing the working title "Exchange Program," just to study it. (I do that a lot, maybe too much!)

Oh yeah, great cinematography by Conrad Hall as usual, all topped off with very weird music by the maestro Dominic Frontiere, providing the creepy icing on an already goosebump-inducing installment entry.

Thanks for the reminder, so I'll be watching this one later...!


PS: I made my own LD (low-definition) VHS film on camcorder, based on this episode, about thirty years ago. We had the help of a pro makeup effects guy providing the way-out makeup and playing our version of the creature. It was my first venture into shooting a no-budget sci-fi flick on VHS, awful image quality on VHS, but not bad overall. Somebody played it on a local cable access channel at the time.

Randall Landers said...

Never could get the motivations of the Chromoids, especially if they could throw spores into the pond and eat the scum. Not sure why they needed a Human transfer student.

K said...

My take: the exchange program was a ruse to get one of their "people" to earth, scope us out, and see if they could grow their "food" here. Just a first step in a plan to invader earth. So in reality, they had no need of a human being at all. That was subterfuge to establish a beachhead.

Heck, they might have said this in the episode, but I'm half-asleep today.

Randall Landers said...

Thanks for the explanation. I just couldn't wrap my head around the reason they needed the Humans. Not sure I still can. Just a minor plot hole from...The Outer Limits.

Still, creepy episode and truly alien monster!

K said...

Some of the Outer Limits episodes make little or no sense, with unexplained events and plot holes, but are all about the "atmosphere"...the creatures, stark black and white photography, the striking music, etc. I think that's most true in the first season since Joseph Stefano was primarily in charge.

When the show went into the second season, Ben Brady who was in control of Perry Mason took over, so the shows in year two were more "sci-fi" and less "horror" with a ton less of the weirdness and atmosphere of the first year.

Still, the second season had what many consider to have been the best episode of the entire series, Demon With A Glass Hand, written by Harlan Ellison.

Grant said...

This is a coincidence since I saw it last night, and I watch most thing I own only about once a year.
I've always liked it a lot. But I can't help liking that "Curly" joke, because nearly my only complaint is how ungainly he is in that scene, but how "stealthy" he is in those later scenes. But it's no big deal.
Also, I can never help thinking that they got just the right actors (even though I don't know their names) for the other two prisoners in that first scene. One is so believable as a veteran prisoner, and the other as a sort of "boyish" one.

Randall Landers said...

By happenstance, Doug Drexler (Star Trek, The Orville, Dick Tracy) brought up Henry Silva in a post today. Doug apparently did Henry's makeup for Dick Tracy:

Doug Drexler
12 hrs · via Facebook

Working with Henry Silva was a gas. He was one cool cat. He was also an auxiliary member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack. Henry knew I was a Rat Pack fan, so he would regale me with stories of that halcyon era. At the end of a shooting day, Sinatra would give the word that the party would continue at his Vegas suite. " Bring your sunglasses...", he would tell Henry. That meant they would be partying til the sun came up. There was no sleeping, he grinned, and then said it again with a far away look. I loved him. There was a lot laughing and kidding. Just my speed.

I remember enthusing about his Outer Limits episode " The Mice". A brilliant, unforgettable segment. When you've done as many shows as Henry, it's hard to keep them all straight. Don't you remember!? I said. At the end of the show you wrestled a giant piece of snot! I grinned broadly, pleased to be a part of this absurd moment. Henry looked at me bemused... I did?!

Henry was a well known film tough guy, and even when he was relaxed he carried a vaguely threatening aura about him. A few years back, Henry gave me this book (The Century). I treasure the inscription it.

"Happy Birthday. I love you, but don't lose this fucking book."

Doug is a wealth of Trek, sf and film knowledge.

K said...

That's fantastic! Thanks, Randall! Anytime I'm turning the dial and run into an old episode of something with Henry Silva in it, I *STOP* and sit down to watch him! I love his line in The Mice calling the thing a "garbage-eater!"

I wish I knew half as much trivia as people think I do. People like Doug Drexler, and a few of my own friends like Edward Hunt, the late Arthur C. Pierce, and the (also-late) acquaintance Ib J. Melchior, now those guys made/make me feel totally out to lunch! I'm no "info-meister" by any means...

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