The Zanti Misfits

The Outer Limits (1963)

The Zanti Misfits, directed by Leonard Horn.

First Contact is not what anyone hoped for: planet Zanti is sending its criminals to Earth and we have to manage them. No discussion and we have no choice but to cooperate.

The Zanti haven't been completely honest: what seems like a disaster and quick siege and die bug die! frenzy was just what they intended all along. We killer apes ("practiced executioners") are useful to them and we are left wondering: will there be more? Count on it.

This is a well-known episode and even those not regular fans of the series are aware of it. This is the only use of stop-motion animation in the series. It's expensive and we have just a few seconds worth, but that is effective. Quick glimpses are scary. (Later: Counterweight has stop-motion also).

And that killer-hornet sound the Zanti make: every good horror story needs an evil sound.

We do cross over from SF creature feature to actual horror: we see the Zanti crawling up Bruce Dern's arm, then cut to the HQ and pan across the faces as they listen to his terrified screams as he pleads, "Get it off me!"

As a kid I did not notice the Zanti had faces so much as their large human-like eyes, which I thought was stupid. I would reconsider now: other invertebrates like the octopus have singular eyes so insect-like aliens might also. On Blu-ray the details of their faces and fringe beards are a little goofy, but at the same time unsettling.

Our cast:


The Blu-ray has two commentary tracks: dry and somewhat sparse thoughts by Tim Lucas and another where Gary Gerani and Steve Mitchell relive their boyhood viewings with joy.