Rothco press is overjoyed to announce a new partnership with author David J. Schow that will feature new books and classic releases which should hit shelves beginning in late Summer 2015. In the mean time, we couldn’t be happier than to sit down and chat about his Rondo Award-winning book The Outer Limits at 50.
Monster shows used to be dismissed as juvenilia – think Lost in Space – but here was a program in which the “monsters” were frequently more humane than the human beings around them. In retrospect, it’s a very nihilistic series – practically the opposite of Twilight Zone. It was made during a period when deep-core cinematic filmmaking began to impact television programs. I don’t think it’s “timeless” – any show is necessarily a product of its time – it’s just that that was a very interesting time; we were already stuck in Viet Nam, Kennedy was assassinated, flower power was right around the corner, and we were six years away from landing on the Moon.
Q: What can hardcore fans of The Outer Limits expect from the book?
They can expect to be dazzled by many crystal-clear, high-rez photos not in the Companion. Many behind-the-scenes shots, which was something lacking in the earlier book. New artworks by such luminaries as Tim Bradstreet, Bernie Wrightson, and Steve Bissette. Rare color shots from this black-and-white show. An eye-popping section on the merchandise, toys, collector’s cards. And a look back at what it’s been like living with The Outer Limits for half a century. The book was intentionally laid out to resemble a Taschen art book, not a TV show round-up. It was designed as a work of art in itself, to honor the show.
Q: What will new fans discover? What famous actors, writers, or directors got their start there?
If you don’t want to deep-dive into chapter-and-verse – that’s the job of the Companion – then this book is an excellent overview. You’ll find actors like Robert Duvall, Robert Culp, Bruce Dern, Warren Oates, Martin Landau, Sally Kellerman, David McCallum, and Chita Rivera all making their bones. You’ll find classic film actors like Neil Hamilton, John Hoyt, Miriam Hopkins, and Sidney Blackmer finding a second wind in TV. Many of the best episodes were written by producer Joseph Stefano, who was already famous for writing the script to Hitchcock’s Psycho. The camera team was comprised of future Oscar winners like Conrad Hall and William Fraker. Look ‘em up … and you’ll be amazed.
Q: With OL on Hulu, where should a novice start?
A couple of decades ago, TNT MonsterVision used to run marathons of what they thought were the best episodes. If you don’t want to start with Episode #1 and pound through them, recreating those Marathons might be a good approach. So try these first: “A Feasibility Study,” “The Chameleon,” “Soldier,” “Don’t Open Till Doomsday,” “Nightmare,” “The Architects of Fear,” “Demon with a Glass Hand,” “The Zanti Misfits.”
Then go to: “The Galaxy Being,” “The Invisible Enemy,” “The Mutant,” “Keeper of the Purple Twilight,” “The Inheritors,” “The Invisibles,” “Corpus Earthling,” and “Fun and Games.”
There. We’ve covered like a third of the episodes already.
Q: The Outer Limits was a product of 1963-1965. How do Twilight Zone and Night Gallery fit in?
Well, you could see The Outer Limits as a “response” to Twilight Zone … but TZ was less cinematic, and almost never did monsters, which are abundant in The Outer Limits. The Outer Limits never ventured into the supernatural. The two shows have very little in common other than their vintage, and some of the talent (actors, directors) who did both shows. Night Gallery was Rod Serling’s attempt to return to Twilight Zone form a decade later, with mixed results. The weird 1970s fashions seen in Night Gallery hit your eye a lot harder than the standard-issue garb from the earlier shows. And Serling was never comfortable with science fiction, except as parable. There’s no law against being a fan of all three shows, but essentially they have very little in common.
Q: Congrats about that Rondo Award, by the way.
The Rondo Hatton Awards are given out by David Colton, who runs the Classic Horror Film Board, and works at his day job as an editor for USA TODAY. It’s a cool little bust of the actor who played the Creeper in The Brute Man (1946), which will only make sense if you are of a certain classic horror bent. But, I mean, who wouldn’t want a bust of Rondo Hatton?
If you don’t understand that, you probably shouldn’t be reading the rest of this interview.
Q Tell me about the genesis of The Outer Limits at 50.
I had already done the be-all, end-all, 800-pound gorilla version of a book on the series, and that was The Outer Limits Companion. I lucked into a treasure trove of never-published photos from the series just as it was edging up on its Golden Anniversary, Year Fifty. Taylor White’s Creature Features emporium in Burbank wanted to debut their re-opened store with an art gallery show devoted to the series’ anniversary. All these things swam together, and the discovery of the “lost” photos pushed us from doing a pamphlet or art show catalogue to an entire, bull-goose, 156-page book. So it’s a companion to the Companion.
Q: So what’s next for you?
Fittingly enough, the success of The Outer Limits at 50 has spurred renewed interest in bringing back The Outer Limits Companion for a revised third edition, since existing copies of the earlier book go for prohibitive prices online … if you can find one. Once more into the breach …
Look for Shoot Up The Night the first installment of the David J. Schow Signature series coming soon to Rothco Press.