The Mutant

The Outer Limits (1963)

The Mutant, directed by Alan Crosland Jr.

Planet Annex One seems like a perfect candidate for colonization, apart from the perpetual blinding sunlight and regular radioactive rain. Messages from the exploration team seem a bit "off" and Earth sends an investigator to check it out.

"Off" is right. One of the team has mutated and has huge "fried egg" eyes. He can read thoughts and kill with a touch. He controls the others who live in terror of him.

Warren Oates deserves great credit for a difficult, thankless role, having to act through that heavy makeup. He is really very good at it: always the weird one, the outsider, now in charge but never loved.

A somewhat klunky SF thriller, it has its good points. How do you defend yourself against a mind reader? What possible conspiracy can succeed?

Further, there are intimations of a deeper story. Sleep on Annex One is dreamless; when does the subconscious get to work out its issues? In constant daylight there are no shadows, and no secrets or privacy. The malicious telepath is like an all-seeing surveillance state.

In this case horror is in the daylight -- rationality? -- and escape is in the dark cave -- the unconscious?

Returning: Walter Burke from The Invisibles and director Crosland from The Mice. And: a slightly mutated Zanti from The Zanti Misfits! It has that same angry hornet sound.

Photographed by Kenneth Peach.

The Blu-ray commentary track is by David J Schow. He gives extensive readings from earlier treatments of the story, much more than anyone wants to know.

He points out three ways ABC interfered with the series, to its detriment: