The Outer Limits (1963–1965)
7.4/10
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13 user 1 critic

Don't Open Till Doomsday 

A tiny space creature, bent on destruction, is captured by the scientist Mordecai Spazman. His rival, professor Harvey Kry, convinces the media that Spazman's claims are bogus. The vengeful... See full summary »

Director:

Gerd Oswald

Writer:

Joseph Stefano
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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
Miriam Hopkins ... Mary Kry
John Hoyt ... Emmett Balfour
Russell Collins ... Justice of the Peace
Buck Taylor ... Gard Hayden
Nellie Burt Nellie Burt ... Justice's Wife
Melinda Casey Melinda Casey ... Vivia Balfour Hayden (as Melinda Plowman)
David Frankham ... Harvey Kry Jr.
Anthony Jochim Anthony Jochim ... Dr. Mordecai Spazman
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Storyline

A tiny space creature, bent on destruction, is captured by the scientist Mordecai Spazman. His rival, professor Harvey Kry, convinces the media that Spazman's claims are bogus. The vengeful Spazman boxes up the invader's miniature spacecraft as a wedding gift, presenting it to Kry's son. The alien imprisons Harvey Jr. inside the ship, to force Dr. Kry to help him complete his mission. Written by David Stevens

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 January 1964 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Like The Outer Limits: Feasibility Study (1997) which was also written by Joseph Stefano, this episode involves a teenage couple who elope (or plan to elope) over the objections of the girl's father. See more »

Goofs

The bezel of the small window of the doomsday box has two small holes at the top and the bottom, but in tighter shots of the box the bezel is smooth with no holes. See more »

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User Reviews

 
See It For Miriam
17 May 2017 | by ferbs54See all my reviews

Although it had been presaged as early as 1950, with Gloria Swanson's classic portrayal of grotesque has-been actress Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard," the film category soon to be known as "psycho biddies" really started to get rolling 12 years later, with the release of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" In this film, in one of her greatest roles, screen legend Bette Davis portrayed another female grotesque, Jane Hudson, alongside her longtime rival, Joan Crawford. The film, a smash hit, ushered in a slew of similarly themed wonders featuring aged actresses, almost single-handedly jump-starting a subgenre also known as Grande Dame Guignol and hagsploitation; my buddy Rob has referred to it as "aging gargoyle movies," a term that I prefer. Before long, the public would be treated to similar geriatric female wackos in films such as 1964's "Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte" (Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Agnes Moorehead), 1964's "Strait-Jacket" (Crawford), 1965's "The Nanny" (Davis), 1969's "What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?" (Geraldine Page), and 1971's "What's the Matter With Helen?" (Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters) and "Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?" (Winters again). Anyway, I mention these films, and "Baby Jane" in particular, as they are the type of horror films that are most strongly suggested to me by the 17th episode of "The Outer Limits," the terrific outing known as "Don't Open Till Doomsday." First aired on January 20, 1964, it is an hour of television that seems to have been, whether consciously or unconsciously, directly inspired by the Davis/Crawford film that had premiered on Halloween Day '62.

This wonderful episode opens in 1929, in the small town of Winterfield, on the wedding day of Harvey Kry (well played by David Frankham) and his bride Mary. A wrapped box is delivered to their house, where the festivities are in full swing. When Harvey peers into the box--which is pierced with a peephole of sorts, out of which flashes a mysterious light--he is somehow sucked inside, never to be seen again. Flash forward 35 years. Now, another couple, a pair of elopers, is about to be married: Gard Hayden (Buck Taylor) and his bride Vivia (Melinda Plowman). The wife of the local justice of the peace (Nellie Burt, who would go on to appear in "OL" episode #26, "The Guests") steers the couple to the Kry house to spend their honeymoon night ("even heaven itself couldn't find you there," she tells them, ominously). There, the newlyweds encounter Mary Kry (the great '30s and '40s actress Miriam Hopkins), who has been waiting for the reappearance of her lost husband all these decades, and who maneuvers the couple into the vicinity of that mysterious box, in the hopes of getting them sucked in, and her lost husband released. And yes, as it turns out, her husband IS still very much alive in there, still young in the box's ageless limbo, and sharing the space with a very ugly alien being, indeed. And things only get more complicated when Vivia's father (played by the great character actor John Hoyt, who had just starred, the previous year, in both "Cleopatra" AND "X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes") comes to the Kry residence, looking for the runaway pair....

Viewers wanting to peruse what must be the definitive examination of this wonderful hour would be advised to read David Schow's insightful article in his indispensable "Outer Limits Companion" volume, an article that discusses all the Freudian symbolism and sexual frustration that the episode dishes out in spades. The episode features an alien monster that Schow describes as being a "feculent blob," and that has been elsewhere less elegantly termed "the turd creature." It is a truly memorable creation, whatever one chooses to call it. But even more memorable than El Turdo itself is the character that Hopkins created for this film, an insane grotesque who manages to make such a strong impression on the viewer that I feel the actress should have been given some kind of Emmy Award for her work here. Her overly made-up visage is very much on a par with Jane Hudson's--there are even similar sequences in the two films, of the aged biddies applying their lipstick in close-up--and is used to shock and startle the audience just as much as the sight of the alien monster. On at least two occasions, we are given shock cuts of Mrs. Kry's face in close-up, and the scenes DO manage to startle. Hopkins--who had starred with Davis on two occasions, in 1939's "The Old Maid" and 1943's "Old Acquaintance--easily steals the show here, but the episode has lots more to offer than her exquisitely sad and ghoulish portrayal, having been created by one of my favorite triumvirates of "OL" talent. It features a wonderful script from "OL" producer Joseph Stefano, expert direction from Gerd Oswald, and always interesting cinematography from DOP Conrad Hall (just take a gander at the lighting in the stairwell of the Kry residence, and the swirling mists that seem to perpetually float inside that darn alien box!). The result is one extraordinarily strange and atmospheric hour of television, with a truly one-of-a-kind story line (illogical as it may be), and one of "The Outer Limits"'s finest offerings. To be succinct, despite all the many questions that the episode leaves unanswered, it is one of this viewer's Top 10 favorites....


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