As a young teenager, especially in the winter months, I looked forward to watching television on Sunday afternoons. Why was this so important to me? A Chicago cable station carried reruns of the 1960s television series “The Outer Limits.” The program was an anthology series with self-contained episodes, intelligent writing, and for its time, an innovative approach to presentation with an occasional plot twist. The plot of each episode presented a problem that needed a creative solution from characters who emotionally involved themselves willingly or by happenstance. The show had a weekly monster, referred to as the “Bear,” as the reluctant centerpiece. What could have been an hour long superficial science-fiction program was really a wonderfully-styled morality play from some of film and television’s best writers. Now writer/director Scott Derrickson (“Doctor Strange”) and his “Sinister” writing partner, C. Robert Cargill will adapt the famous episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” for the big screen.
Derrickson is a long time fan of the show, and has stated in the past that he preferred “The Outer Limits” series over Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone.” “Demon with a Glass Hand” was written by Harlan Ellison, who is famous for writing the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” and who also heavily influenced filmmaker James Cameron with “The Outer Limits” episodes, “Soldier” and “Demon with a Glass Hand” to create the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film “The Terminator.” This is what Derrickson posted on his Twitter account about his latest project.
Scott DerricksonVerified account@scottderrickson 6h
My screenwriting future has LIMITS: http://j.mp/1iMntvV pic.twitter.com/qgd96byjAn
“The Outer Limits” originally aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965 for a total of 49 episodes. The program was famous for its cold open or preview clip, followed by Vic Perrin’s “Control Voice” narration that was played over visuals of an oscilloscope. The earlier and longer version of the narration ran as follows, using an Orwellian theme of taking over your television.
Here are the first lines of each episode:
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission…”
Each episode would conclude with these last lines:
“We now return control of your television set to you. Until next week at the same time, when the control voice will take you to – The Outer Limits.”
The series attracted some of Hollywood’s top writers such as Robert Towne (“Chinatown,”) Joseph Stefano (“Psycho”) and Harlan Ellison. The show enjoyed a revival in the late 1990s on Showtime and the Sci-Fi Channel, but was a poor substitute for the original series.
Here is the synopsis for “Demon with a Glass Hand:”
Trent is a man with no memory of his life before the past ten days. His left hand has been replaced by an advanced computer shaped like his missing hand and protected by some transparent material. Three fingers are missing; the computer tells him they must be reattached before it can tell Trent what is going on. Trent is being hunted by a handful of humanoid aliens called the Kyben; they have the missing appendages. The action takes place in a large rundown office building which the Kyben have sealed off from the world. In this deadly game of hide-and-seek, Trent enlists the help of Consuelo Biros (actress Arlene Martel,) a woman who works in the building.
For reasons unknown to him, Trent was sent into the past via a “time mirror,” located in the building. A captured Kyben tells Trent that both of them are from a thousand years in the future. In that future, Earth has been conquered by the Kyben, but all the surviving humans except Trent have mysteriously vanished. The aliens are being obliterated by a “radioactive plague” that is killing all intelligent life on the planet, apparently unleashed by the humans in a last-ditch effort to repel the invasion. In a desperate attempt to find a cure for the plague and to extract whatever knowledge is stored in the hand/computer, the Kyben have followed him back in time with the missing fingers.
Eventually, Trent defeats all of his Kyben hunters by ripping off the medallion-shaped devices they wear to anchor them in the past. Trent successfully destroys the mirror, and recovers the missing fingers, one by one. When the computer is whole, he learns the terrible truth: he is not a man, but a robot. The human survivors have been digitally encoded onto a gold-copper alloy wire wrapped around the solenoid in his thorax. Immune to disease, he must protect his precious cargo for 200 years after the Kyben invasion, by which time the plague will have dissipated. Then he will resurrect the human race.
Trent had thought he was a man, and he and Consuelo had begun to develop feelings for each other. With the truth revealed, she leaves him, pity mixed with horror in her eyes. Trent is left to face 1,200 years of a lonely vigil.
Currently, “Demon with a Glass Hand” has no scheduled release date. Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill will write the screenplay. Mark Victor is producing via his Mark Victor Production. MGM’s Motion Picture Group president Jonathan Glicksman and executive vice-president Adam Rosenberg will oversee the project for the studio.
Sources: Scott Derrickson, Heat Vision Blog, wikipedia