Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Are Entombed, But We Live On...

In the Seventies, 'Doctor Who' took at stab at horror.  

While the sixties had plenty of things that went bump (or at least beep) in the night, the seventies REALLY shoveled on the freaks, creeps, and melty-faced space ghouls.

And while they may have taken a cue from the Hammer pictures, they were still making a program for kids, and a low-budget one at that.  Maybe 'Variety' was the word in seventies 'Who' monsters. Or perhaps variety show, depending on how you feel about this pantomime Nimon.
  I admit it scared me, but I take after Shaggy from 'Scooby-Doo' in the 'easily startled' department.

From the vegetable Krynoids seeping into human blood-streams and eating them from within, to the swamp-dwelling Drashigs devouring them whole, seventies 'Who' monsters were a slimy bunch.  If it oozed, it losed.  The pop-eyed Jaggaroth under a human mask, a squelchy Rutan slaughtering humans in a deserted lighthouse, the ruthless Spider Queen of Metebelis 3, and not least, underground masses of giant mutant maggots. 

Chief among the squishy BEMs were the Sontarans: a perpetually warring race of potato-headed clones-of-bitches who twice menaced Earth and once briefly conquered Gallifrey during this era.  Damn, did they look cool!  For every five boglin puppets in popcorn bowls dripping snot (I'm looking at you, Arcturus.  No, I'm really not.) there was a blessedly well-executed creature like the Sontaran (although they forgot how to make good ones in the eighties.)

Then again, the cold steel of the robot clamped itself around soft, pulpy human throats a time or too as well: with the killer bots of Storm Mine 4, the mad machines of Kettlewell and Xoanon, robots disguised as mummies, the spangly-wigged Movellan androids locked in a stalemate space war with the Daleks, and a return from those loveable Cybermen.  Top marks for new robot goes to the Autons, also known as the Nestene Consciousness, a race of living plastic whose foot soldiers took the form of shop-window mannequins with guns concealed inside their molded hands. (Although 'The Avengers' TV show had Cybernauts VERY visually similar a few years earlier.)

Top marks as well for cyborg Davros (first image on page), half Dalek, half icky bastard.  The clinical, xenophobic, wretched, ass-banjo who invented the Daleks and, given the SLIGHTEST opportunity, would've killed everything that lives just for the unadulterated hell of it.  Burying him  alive?  Yeah, that'll work. Probably.

Cultists met in dark rooms to sacrifice in the name of the dread god that crumbled the nameless world where the asteroids now loom.  Vampires were staked by rocket ships. Archeologists went mad from unearthing Sutekh of the Osirans.  Victorian young ladies were siphoned by the physically mangled and psychically twisted 'Weng-Chiang'.  Entropy itself and the collapse of the universe were at stake when nigh-omnipotent beings beyond the powers of the physical fought for control of the key to Time: The Black Guardian of Chaos and the White Guardian of Order.

And several insane Time Lords had a go as well: 
Omega and Morbius, deranged and bodiless outcasts in creepy castles.  
Omega was the Time Lord who made time travel possible by harnessing the power of a black star, but it cost him everything but his consciousness in an antimatter void.  
Now he wears a funky hat.
Morbius was a would-be Time Lord dictator with a body made of bits of other bodies.  He gave me the willies something fierce.

And best of the best: the Space Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes.

He's the crimelord Time Lord putting the Galaxy to the torment for a chance to stick it to his old 'school chum'.  He craves and easily acquires power over human minds. He makes easily dishonored alliances with killer aliens.  He does not need them: he IS a killer alien.  
He just likes to mess with them.  
Roger Delgado's charming first interpretation oozes with menace across the years.  You have a guy here who plots to smother every human being with plastic flowers, and knows it's all just a game to enjoy.

Not content with 9 stories in the seventies, The Master ALSO continued beyond death.  But we learned his alloted regenerations had run out at 12, leaving him a shambling skinless monstrosity: he'd lived his 13 lives and still craved MORE.  
Even if he had to steal them from others.

"Don't let them touch you!  You'll die if they touch you!"- The Doctor, 'Ambassadors of Death'

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