It’s what kept my curtains closed each evening–even on the 2nd floor of a relatively safe suburban neighborhood, far from the Pacific Northwest the natural habitat of sasquatch and, most recently, teenage vampires.
On the eve of Leonard Nimoy’s return for another installment as the logical Mr. Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness, I am reminded of that cool, calculating, “It’s not logical, Jim” voice taking me through the late 1970’s show, In Search Of.
As a natural segue from Bob Phillips’s blog on Tuesday analyzing the staying-power of the Star Trek franchise, I was reminded of Nimoy’s H.A.L.-like presence that always made me nervous with those reruns of the space-opera I’d watch on Detroit’s Channel 50. Psychologists have long compared the Super Ego of Spock to James Kirk’s impulsive galaxy and bed-jumping behavior.
Spock was always that logical voice that I didn’t really want to listen to. He was the humanized version of Life Cereal; it’s supposed to be good for you. So, like Mikey’s brothers, I didn’t want to try it either.
So I avoided cleaning my room, Star Trek reruns and that creepy little space under our stairs where we kept the Christmas decorations. Then all these aversions and fears came perfectly together in this program that aired in syndication on Saturday afternoons in 1977. I had to watch it–after all, it was Bigfoot, flying saucers, the Loch Ness monster, Easter Island, Amelia Earhart’s missing plane–all in one show!
For my amped-up imagination, it was the perfect blend of fuzzy photographs, creepy music, spooky re-enactments and Mr. Spock’s annoying logical voice. By the end of the half hour show that did as much wrapping things up as the entire X-Files series–meaning nothing was discovered, I was left with only my terrors to help me sleep at night.
Anyone who was scared by The Blair Witch Project or even by the shadowy-puppet bear in the Brady Bunch-goes-camping episode can relate to the opening sequence of this seminal bit of editing, scoring and sound effects in this segment…
The poor miners by Mt. St. Helens are under seige by a pack of Bigfeet. It’s that feeling that you’re vulnerable in the dark, surrounded by evil more terrifying than Greg Brady’s bell-bottoms or Leonard Nimoy’s turtle-neck and leisure suit.
I was hooked–and so was America. Bigfoot sightings multiplied and even Steve Austin battled a cyborg sasquatch that aliens let loose from their secret mountain cave every few decades. The Six Million Dollar Man would tear off his arm to reveal the real explanation to all of my fears, blending two In Search Of storylines together–visitors from outer space controlling a yeti robot–ah hah!
But before the silly robot and Harry and the Hendersons completely let me sleep again, I can’t help but shudder a little when I think of the absolute last bit of film I ever need to see again–until the crawling baby on the ceiling in Trainspotting. It wasn’t In Search Of, but because of the popularity of Nimoy’s show, this 1970 Mysterious Monsters film resurfaced.
A woman was home alone and heard a noise. But before that, we see the monster’s silhouette on the window shade. The editors probably used some perfect blend of shrieking strings and cymbals crashing to cement the shock into my subconscious.
I love the guy with the gun who doesn’t use the little windows to help him see Bigfoot before he swings open the door. (I don’t remember picking that apart when I was 12.)
From that day on, probably until I was 20 or so, those upstairs curtains stayed closed. For I knew that on the other side lurked either a hairy ape-man or Mr. Spock–neither one I wanted to see and thus admit his existence.