Trek R' Treat!
"Captain Kirk, can you hear me?
There is a curse on your ship.
Leave this place or you will all die."
- The deceased Crewman Jackson to Captain Kirk in "Catspaw"
Star Trek was built for Halloween. No really.
When one considers the origins of the franchise, there is a thread of "the creepy" in its DNA. In the history of Sci-Fi there is a close relationship with and appreciation for fear.
Not too many years before Gene Roddenberry launched the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE on her maiden voyage another genius of that era had already created what was possibly the greatest sci-fi, fantasy & horror anthology series ever, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone.
William Shatner in The Twilight Zone episode, “Nick of Time”
What Gene gleaned from Rod’s show was that anthologies are fun but expensive - with new people, locations, props and costumes needed week after week.
One of Gene's ideas for Star Trek was that he could make a weekly Sci-Fi anthology series more cost effective by using a permanent cast, with standing sets, equipment, and uniforms.
Of course the reality was that with high attention to detail, high production value (for the era) and setting it on a starship a few hundred years in the future guaranteed that Star Trek was still the most expensive show of its day.
Star Trek's initial concept as a mildly creepy anthology series is really evident in its early episodes.
Come on, the first episode of The Original Series features a vampire!
Captain Kirk under the spell of the M-113 (Salt Vampire) creature in “The Man Trap.”
Within the first handful of shows we're treated to death, mass insanity, duplication, murder, mad scientists, childish gods, ghoulish despots in disguise and more.
Even “Lurch” shows up at one point.
Ruk, an original android left behind by The Old Ones in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
As the series goes on there’s entities that feed on violent emotions, body switching, possession, and “Jack The Ripper.”
Scotty, moments after being possessed by Redjac - also known as Jack the Ripper in “Wolf in the Fold.”
Early Star Trek is creepy.
And really aren't those the best episodes?
The Original Series is hardly alone in exploring it's spooky side, but it was the best (in this author's opinion) at it.
At some point or another, every Star Trek series has touched the etheric plane, and shown us everything from body horror to ghosts bound to candles.
Beverly Crusher is the latest victim of a generational haunting in TNG’s “Sub Rosa.”
But TOS’ "Catspaw" (which aired Halloween week in 1967) is the franchise's only intentional “Holiday Special”, and that's perhaps as it should be.
The wizard Korob, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the sorceress Sylvia in “Catspaw.”
It has it all - mindless zombies, sympathetic magic, aliens, witches, warlocks, dungeons, castles, and one very large black cat.
Maybe that’s the trick.
Star Trek and Halloween together make a perfect treat. Afterall, what could be more appropriate than overcoming one’s primal fear in the final frontier?
LLAP & Happy Halloween!
John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.
STAR TREK™ NEXT GENERATION Captain Picard "Darmok"