Season 1, Episode 9
Written by Orin Borsten and Louis Charbonneau
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Transmitted 18 November, 1963
Rocks: silent, inanimate objects torn from the Earth’s ancient crust. Yielding up to man over the long centuries all that is known of the planet on which we live withholding from man forever their veiled secrets of the nature of matter and cosmic catastrophe, the secrets of other worlds in the vastness of the universe, of other forms of life, of strange organisms beyond the imagination of man.
One of the greatest strengths of the Outer Limits for me is its use psychological horror, and it’s greatest star is Robert Culp. This story combines both in one of the most chilling and disturbing of tales… about killer rocks from outer space.
The story features a rational physician Paul Cameron who has dropped in to his wife’s work space (where she works with a geologist Jonas Temple) to take her out to lunch. While there, he is left alone for a moment and upsets an experiment causing an explosion that prompts an unusual reaction… he hears voices. The voices are insidious and plotting evil deeds… and only Paul can hear them.
His wife Laurie is supportive and worried, but Paul slumps into a deep state of paranoia and anxiety as a series of tests reveal that the voices (which he presumed were picked up through a faulty metal cranial implant) can only be in his head. Returning to the lab, he once more hears the voices who compel him to jump out the window. At home, he cannot rest. He refuses to answer the phone or the door. His wife is beside herself and in a move of desperation the pair decide to take an impromptu honeymoon, making up for the one they never took after getting married not long ago. As they leave with very few belongings, the phone rings unanswered. The lovers disappear for Mexico in the middle of the night, hoping to find some relief from what is surely a mental breakdown.
Unfortunately, they are very wrong. The phonecall is from Dr Jonas Temple, who has become a zombified slave of the alien rocks. His hair a shocking white frizz, his face gaunt, he plots with his fellow rock to kill Paul Cameron who knows far too much and is a direct threat to their plans. Rational people leave a trail, one that is easily traced, so the aliens start tracking the lovers to their getaway.
Corpus Earthling is so haunting, so unsettling and emotionally wrought with tension that it is heart breaking to watch. Seeing Culp’s character struggle to confront his fears and work past them is made all the more painful when the true nature of his situation is revealed. One of the most moving and stunning of the first season, Corpus Earthling is a classic.