Traumafessions:: Unk on Sleestaks

Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman; all seemed like cool guys I could pal around with when I was little… Sleestaks, not so much.  Truth told, Sleestaks freaked me out. For those not familiar, Sleestaks are inter-dimensional, reptilian humanoids that appear in Sid and Marty Krofft’s seventies-era Saturday morning adventure series LAND OF THE LOST. They’re like eight feet tall thanks to extended lower legs, have sorta crab-claw hands, a spike/horn on their heads and gigantic glassy insectoid eyes. Did I mention they hiss(ssssss)? And if there’s a group of them (I seem to remember them preferring to travel in threes) the hissing is especially worrisome (and even vaguely insulting if you are a kid who suffers from asthma).

I don’t know what my deal is but as a child, I had a near primordial reaction to them. It was sorta like that thing when you put a cucumber behind a cat and it mistakes it for a snake and jumps three feet in the air (I beg you not to do this). Although I have to admit they never failed to liven up the show, they gave me true heebie jeebies. It didn’t help that they kind of hunch over with their arms spread out and almost ape the familiar movements of an adult trying to wrangle a child. As I recall there was a kind, helpful, more sophisticated Sleestak (possibly from the future) who did indeed attempt to aid our heroes Marshall, Will and Holly but his mellow disposition did not make up for the aggressive behavior of his more primitive brethren 

Here’s where it gets weird (and by that I mean, where I get weird). I have a very strong memory of my older brother riding a bike with a rope tied behind it and me on skates being pulled while holding on to said rope. This was in the basement so I’m sure we were not moving at any incredible speed. Anyway, I fell and smashed my head hard against the cement (not my first head injury by a long shot). I must have been out for a second because when I came to I was surrounded by Sleestaks looking over me and then they were quickly replaced by my familiar basement surroundings. What the hell was that? Normal brain damage or some unglued memory of alien abduction!?! Am I in some bed somewhere attached to tubes MATRIX-style and have no clue? I honestly DO NOT want to know. Anyway, Sleestaks; I very much prefer them on my TV rather than in my basement (or head).

Subscribe
Notify of
8 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
bdwilcox
bdwilcox
4 months ago

I hear ya’ on the Sleestak phobia. Their bug eyes totally freaked me out, reminding me of a spider’s eyes. Ironically, they look closest to a jumping spider’s eyes which are the only spiders you could categorize as ‘cute’.

Sleestaks have a whole mythos behind them. They are the devolved ancestors of a highly intelligent race called Altrusians. The kind, intelligent Sleestak is actually an Altrusian called Enik who fell through a time-tunnel to end up in his society’s dystopian future. They were named Sleestaks by a Peter Koenig, a Revolutionary War soldier that ended up in the Land of the Lost; he named them after Major Joshua Sleestak. Sleestaks regard humans as terrible threats and will sacrifice them to their god. And to play the Sleestaks, the producers hired high school basketball players who fit the tall profile.

SmallDarkCloud
SmallDarkCloud
4 months ago

The Sleestaks loomed large in my childhood fears, as well. I was born in the middle of the show’s original broadcast run, but Land of the Lost was still airing in reruns as late as the early-to-mid-80s, when I was a kid. That’s when I watched the show. Those weird pylons that were gateways to time vortexes (I think, or something like that) also scared me.

Several notable science fiction writers contributed to Land of the Lost, which is one reason why the show’s mythology was so intelligent, and above the usual quality level for Saturday morning television.

Regarding the 2009 movie (which I hated), Will Ferrell had a role in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where he played a police officer (I think) named Marshal Willandholly. Groan. I’ve wondered if that somehow convinced a studio executive to green-light a comedy film of the show. I like Ferrell, but it’s not one of this better movies.

Last edited 4 months ago by SmallDarkCloud
popcornmonster
popcornmonster
4 months ago

I’m with you on this on, Unk. As a little kid this was my favorite show as I loved the dinosaurs but the Sleestaks were nightmarish. I heard somewhere they only had three Sleestak suits so you only ever see up to three at a time on screen. I think my biggest trauma from the show is from an early episode where Marshall touches a crystal in a pylon and he screams while the screen starts flashing psychedelic colors.

Oddly enough I’ve been thinking about this show lately and might spring for the full series on DVD from eBay since they are out of print.

bdwilcox
bdwilcox
4 months ago

Incidentally, Enik’s original name in the script was Eneg. That’s Gene backwards, an homage to Gene Roddenberry.

The other character that really freaked me out was The Zarn, an alien that appeared as a human-shaped collection of lights. He was always so sinister to me.