Sleestak are lizard-skinned, seven-foot-tall creatures with giant insect eyes and three pronged pincher hands. They have a single nubby horn on their head, a little nubby tail, and presumably internalized genitalia. They carry crossbows, slink about in caves (they don’t like light!) and introduce their presence with the most horrible slurpy hissing sound that’s ever been heard outside of a dentist’s office. It has come to my knowledge that the more you learn about Sleestak the more atrocious they become. They sacrifice humans to their gods, they feed live animals to their recently hatched young, they hibernate in cocoons and, perhaps most disturbingly, they communicate with a “library of skulls” which is a grouping of their previous leaders’ heads that death can’t even shut up.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that there is one Sleestak who is polite enough to wear some clothing, speak the mother’s English and can the hissing. His name is Enig (originally spelled Eneg as an anagram tribute to STAR TREK creator GENE RODENBERRY), he’s an “Altrusian” with golden skin, and of a more reasonable height. You have to feel sorry for the guy because he originally believes the barbaric Sleestak are his ancestors but comes to find out that they are his peace loving people’s inevitable future selves instead. (THE LAND OF THE LOST‘s mind-fucky time collage at work once again.) Enig spends a lot of his time in a lost city working on a time matrix table chuck full of shiny stones trying to get the hell home and really, who can blame him? Good luck with that Enig, let us know how that works out.
Go ahead and laugh at the Sleestak, just don’t underestimate the tightness of their pinchers grip on the psyche of a generation. You can find them lurking in paintings, used as icons for rock bands and skateboard hubs, lampooned on ROBOT CHICKEN and infiltrating slang with alternate spellings and meanings. As ridiculous as they sometimes appear, they have an astonishing primal power that viewers respond to immediately. What is that power? Does it come from the fact that with their round dark eyes, non-existent nose and slit grimace mouth, they more than slightly resemble our most innate and ancient symbol for death, the human skull? Or is it their reptilian nature that gets our dander up? Lizard men in general have existed across the globe in many mythologies from the beginning of time. In the present they loom in the form of alien abductee stories and conspiracy theories that claim our leaders are hiding some green scales of their own ala the famed miniseries “V”. Do they represent a primitive version of ourselves or a cold callous being we are afraid we’re becoming? To a kid, the question when seeing these threatening creatures is a simple one: fight or flight? I think we all know the answer that every child of the seventies formed in their heads as soon as they heard that first horrible “Hisssssssss.”
So here’s to you Sleestak, you really don’t get enough respect. Sure you starred on a show that displayed some of the worst and most often repeated blue screen effects in television history and, yes, most of us noticed that there was a limited supply of you on hand (the KROFTS had only 3 Sleestak suits and they had to represent many more) but I can tell you from experience that whenever you entered the television screen in my house you could hear a pin drop. And yes, I admit that the foolish day that I tied a rope onto the back of my brothers bike and forced him to pull me around on my roller skates in the basement that when I inevitably bashed my head into the cement that the first thing I saw was not a circle of chirping canaries but a circle of hissing Sleestak looking down on me (true Traumafession!) You, my dear Sleestak may have been kicked out of the boob tube decades ago, but there is a cave in my and many other peoples’ heads where you still roam hissing, and naked with a crossbow poised and aimed.
KINDER UPDATE: Here is how the Sleestak will look in the upcoming tongue-in-cheek LAND OF THE LOST theatrical MOVIE starring WILL FERRELL