Ah, the many monsters of Star Trek.
Through the decades, the shows and movies have featured a variety of wacky, strange and, in some cases, just plain rubish beasties.
As effects technologies and budgets have improved, the franchise’s creators have introduced better beasts, but we still have love in our hearts for the crazier critters.
The new film features a nasty, snow-dwelling brute (above), so we thought we'd look at a small sample from the years gone by…
1. Salt Vampire
From: ‘The Man Trap’ (Star Trek, Season One)
What is it? A cross between the Sarlaac (that toothy, sucking gob) and Bigfoot, this crafty inhabitant of planet M-113 has been hiding out as Nancy, the wife of scientist Dr Robert Crater, and a former flame of Dr McCoy.
This thing can disguise itself as anyone, trap its victims, then reveal its true face and suck the salt from their body like deranged hoover.
Cheesy or cool? Cheesy. It might have the ace ability to appear to be all things to all men (and women, since it can also assume male shapes), but when revealed in reality, the beast is pure rubber camp.
Still, it makes us worry that Megan Fox might be hiding something…
Fact me ‘till I fart: This was the first Trek monster seen by TV audiences - The Man Trap launched the show in 1966.[page-break]
From: ‘The Devil In The Dark’ (Star Trek, Season One)
What is it? A native of Janus VI, this rocky, silicon-based being uses corrosive acid to slice its way through the walls.
Quite how it manages to sneak up on people to kill, them, however, is anyone’s guess.
Cheesy or cool? Both. The costume itself is distinctly fromage-feeling, given that it appears to be a rug with some plastic lava chunks stuck to it.
But the creature itself is revealed as a fully rounded creation, a mother desperately trying to protect her children, and discovered when Spock mind melds with it. “No Kill I” indeed!
Fact me ‘till I fart: The creature was similar to one from an Outer Limits episode called The Probe. Janos Prohaska was the man under the carpet costume for both shows.[page-break]
3. Neural Parasite
From: ‘Operation: Annihilate!’ (Star Trek, Season One)
What is it? These slimy little troublemakers cause the population of Deneva to go nuts, 28 Days Later-stylee by infecting their nervous systems.
The creatures’ big plan, however, is to control the humans and use them as tools to build spaceships so they can spread off further into space. Naturally, Kirk and crew work to stop them.
Cheesy or cool? Cheese-tastic. It appears the production team went to the local joke shop, bought some fake plastic sick and strung it on wires to create the menace.
Despite the best efforts of the actors, the beasts never look convincing.
Fact me ‘till I fart: A scene featuring Captain Kirk’s sister-in-law dying in agony at the “hands” of the parasites has, in the past, been edited from syndication showings to prevent the episode being listed as too graphic.
Bet they don’t do that these days…[page-break]
From: ‘A Private Little War’ (Star Trek, Season Two)
What is it? Hefty, ape-like monster with bright white fur, a single horn jutting from its teeth and an appetite for a scrap.
As a natural weapon, the Mugato’s fangs carry a poison it uses to stun and capture its prey. Captain Kirk learns this fact first hand. Or should we say first tooth?
Cheesy or cool? Cheesy, but affectionately so. The man-in-a-suit approach sort of works given that it’s supposed to be a humanoid monster, but it can’t help looking rubbery also.
We still love it.
Fact me ‘till I fart: Will Ferrell’s Mugatu in Zoolander is explicitly named after the beast, thanks to Trek fan Ben Stiller. His hair is also a nod to the creature’s trademark tufts of white fur.[page-break]
5. Ceti Eels
From: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan
What is it? Small, squiggly, slimy monstoids that look like a cross between a beetle and a lobster. They crawl in through the ear, wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex and set up home, making the victim susceptible to persuasion.
Oh, and causing sheer agony.
They were used by Khan Noonien Singh to control Chekov and Captain Terrell so that he could trick Kirk.
Cheesy or cool? Cool. The freakish little beasties suffered from a few shots that made them look cheaply made, but director Nicholas Meyer handled them brilliantly.
Just don’t watch it you have a phobia of anything getting in your ear…
Fact me ‘till I fart: The name “Ceti Eel” doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the film. Khan never names ‘em and Kirk doesn’t recognise the creepy crawlies.[page-break]
From: ‘Skin Of Evil’ (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season One)
What is it? It look likes an oil slick brought to life by the world’s most evil magician.
Pulsing with malicious intent, Armus doesn’t care about human life – a fact it proves by killing off Security Chief Tasha Yar when she tries to cross it. Everyone cries.
Cheesy or cool? Cool. It might look a little dodgy at times, but Armus’ badass attitude gives it massive credit in our books.
Kudos to the TNG team for actually killing off a lead character – even if it was prompted by Denise Crosby’s desire to leave the series.
Bet she wishes she’d stayed on, given how big the show became.
Fact me ‘till I fart: This was no CGI effect. It was a physical suit worn by Mart McChesney, who had no oxygen tank inside it.
That meant shots had to be timed so that McChesney didn’t suffocate under the goo. That’s dedication![page-break]
7. Alien Parasite
From: ‘Conspiracy’ (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season One)
What is it? The Next Generation capped its first season with this awesome - and goresome – tale of parasites taking over Starfleet Admirals.
It might be a sci-fi cliché, but Trek gave it a healthy airing with nasty, head-infiltrating critters nearly taking over the Federation.
Cheesy or cool? Way cool. Case in point? The scene where Picard and co blasts the mother creature- which has been hiding within Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick.
The resulting effects job is one of the series’ bloodiest and best looking, despite the limited budget available during the early years.
Fact me ‘till I fart: The creature is able to send out a homing beacon before it dies, which was supposed to pre-figure the arrival of an invading, insectoid race.
But budget cuts forced the producers to change the aliens into The Borg and scrap any link with the episode.[page-break]
From: ‘Genesis’ (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Seven)
What is it? Sing with us: “Spider-Barclay, Spider-Barclay, does whatever a Spider-Barclay does…” Actually, he doesn’t do very much at all, really.
As TNG raced to its conclusion, the budget got bigger but the technobabble got ever more stupid, as in this case, where a treatment for the hapless Lieutenant Barclay leads to the crew devolving into other creatures.
It’s as silly as it sounds.
Cheesy or cool? He certainly looks cool and Cronenbergian, shoving the body horror front and centre.
We just wish the episode had less of the utterly crazed science and more of the creepiness.
Fact me ‘till I fart: Barclay is played by The A-Team’s Dwight Schultz, a long time Trek fan who would go on to appear in Star Trek: First Contact and Voyager.
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