Corpus Earthling

The Outer Limits (1963)

Corpus Earthling, directed by Gerd Oswald.

After a lab accident a doctor begins hearing voices discussing the invasion of Earth. A metal plate in his head allows him to eavesdrop on a conversation no one else can hear. When the aliens become aware of him his death becomes their priority.

The two invaders look like simple lumps of coal. They "breathe" when no one is watching and when attacking they turn into crab-like creatures, which are rudimentary rubber models but still horrific in effect.

It's a familiar dilemma from other paranoia stories like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): when faced with the impossible, do you doubt your own sanity or decide the universe is not what you supposed? Keep it to yourself or risk being sent to the psycho ward?

I remember this one! You can bet I scrutinized my rock collection carefully afterwards. "Fear of rocks" is a new one, but you can see how it can work: rocks are inconceivably ancient compared to human life. Who knows what mysteries the Earth has known during those millions of years?

I also started having the paranoia dream: finding that everyone had changed and I was the last one...

I did not remember the intimate TV drama moments between husband and wife, tending to ignore those segments when I was young. Now I study the dark, striking visual composition of the scenes.

Another intriguing plot point I had forgotten: our couple flees to a modest rental pueblo in Mexico. When danger appears the caretaker builds a circle of fires, claiming this is a defense against possession by evil forces, and that his people have known this evil many times.

It is a remarkably bleak episode. In a truly horrific segment the wife is captured and her face forced down onto the crab-alien while she screams and screams.

Robert Culp returns. His wife is played by Salome Jens who I remember having a good part in Seconds (1966); didn't she jump into the vat of grapes during the orgiastic wine festival?

Photographed by Conrad Hall.

The commentary track is by Craig Beam. He says that William A. Fraker was the camera operator on every one of the first season episodes.