Over the years, science fiction has become synonymous with the weird and the wonderful, and the downright spooky. Twinning with the likes of horror and thrillers, such as the X Files and Doctor Who, during its run, each series of the Star Trek franchise has found something creepy and fantastic about exploring the edges of our understanding, our universe, and where the fringes of our reality lie. Week on week, Star Trek explored these ideas in sometimes fun and frolicking episodes, sometimes whimsical, sometimes philosophical, and now and then, we all had to get a cushion ready.
The horror effect is brought to bear in the movies, too. In The Wrath of Khan, parasitic ear bugs are used by Khan to crawl into the victim’s brain, wrap around the cerebral cortex, and turn the unwilling host into a compliant slave, going as far to inflict merciless pain on the victim if they fought against the subdermal orders. Frightening to think about. Gross to watch. First Contact ensured many of us developed an adequate fear of the Borg when Lieutenant Hawk became one with the collective, succumbing to the attacking Borg, and returns in Borg form to attack Picard.
From traditional horror to the more psychological in Voyager’s episode “The Haunting of Deck Twelve”, as Neelix gives a Halloween campfire-style ghost story to the young Borg kids to feast their fears upon. A strange tale for some, a gas nebula cloud for others, the space alien roams the deck, seeing the next victim. Or there’s the Next Generation episode, “Night Terrors”, with plenty of the tropes we like to see in a good sci-fi horror, such as Dr Crusher hallucinating the morgue stuffed with corpses all sitting up, the crew of the USS Brattain who murdered one another coming through the communication, and the persistent themes of insomnia.
Honourable mention: While it didn’t make it to the final list of spooktaculars, Voyager’s “Scientific Method” is, perhaps, one of the best episodes there is. Aliens doing scientific experiments are all over the ship, all over the crew, and people are dying. If you’ve not seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, because honestly, it’s one of my favourite episodes of Voyager, if not Star Trek, ever. Strong acting performances all round make it superb. Go watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
Dishonourable mention: Of course, we can’t let this slide past us without mentioning the actual ghost story (kinda), TNG’s “Sub Rosa”, where Dr Crusher fornicates with a ghost in a candle. There. It’s in here, it’s had a mention, let’s just move on.
Considering this is the final leg before Halloween, I’ve selected a couple of my favourites which sent my pulse racing the first time I saw them, so, this week we’d like to know…
Which of these episodes gave you the frights, jitters, and jumps?