Dragon’s Domain (1975)

tentacled monster
Tentacled monster!

Captain Tony Cellini (Gianni Garko) suffers from a nightmare linked to his dreadful encounter with a monster that occurred years previously: an encounter that pretty much nobody else believes actually happened. Commander Koenig (Martin Landau), leader of Moonbase Alpha, is one of the few people to think there could be some truth behind Cellini’s claims, and he is proven right when they enter a ‘spaceship graveyard’ zone where the cyclopean horror awaits…

Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) thinks Cellini is delusional, but Koenig believes there is truth in Cellini’s claims
A graveyard of derelict ships
A graveyard of derelict ships

The plot for DRAGON’S DOMAIN is interestingly structured: it begins on Moonbase Alpha as it passes through a desolate part of the galaxy, then, once Tony Cellini has his nightmare-induced ‘breakdown’, the story jumps back to the ill-fated Ultra Probe mission, where we witness three crew members being devoured by a tentacled creature. After scenes showing Cellini, the only survivor of the mission, being treated as, at best, delusional, the tale cuts back to the present, with Cellini, Koenig and others coming face to face with the space beast that has somehow brought the mass of derelict space vessels into this area of space.

Professor Juliet Mackie, Doctor Darwin King and Doctor Monique Bouchere should not open the airlock...
Professor Juliet Mackie, Doctor Darwin King and Doctor Monique Bouchere should not open the airlock…
Too late! They've opened the airlock!
Too late! They’ve opened the airlock!

This was the 8th episode from the first season of Gerry Anderson’s SPACE: 1999. It was written by Christopher (THE TRIPODS) Penfold and directed by Charles (A FISH CALLED WANDA) Crichton. DRAGON’S DOMAIN really stands out because, for a 1970s family show, this episode is pretty horrific!

Tentacle attack!
Tentacle attack!
Cellini is unable to save the rest of the Probe crew members
Cellini is unable to save the rest of the Probe crew members

The standout moment is the flashback sequence where the Ultra Probe crew is attacked and killed by the creature. The tentacled, Lovecraftian monster materialises after swirling lights, noise and wind enters the Probe’s airlock. The screaming thing’s single, glowing eye mesmerises its victims, compelling them to willingly allow the writhing tentacles to grab them. They are then pulled into the slot-like orifice/mouth of the creature, which immediately digests them and their desiccated corpses are unceremoniously spat out onto the floor!

Sucked-dry corpse!
Sucked-dry corpse!

Seeing Doctor Darwin King (Michael Sheard), Doctor Monique Bouchere (Barbara Kellerman) and Professor Juliet Mackie (Susan Jameson) systematically hypnotised and then consumed by the beast certainly sticks in the mind, especially if you saw this as a youngster!

Glowing-eyed beastie!
This where the monster pulls you inside to be consumed!
This is where the monster pulls you inside to be consumed!

The monster, which cannot be detected by life sensors, finally meets its match during the finale when Cellini, and then Koenig, attack it with an axe and a knife. With its hypnotic eye chopped-up by Koenig, the creature dematerialises… but can such a monstrosity truly die?

Koenig picks up an axe!
Koenig picks up an axe!

The episode’s title, and dialogue at the end of the story, suggests the plot is a retelling of the George and the Dragon myth, but it is more akin to Moby Dick, with the obsessed Tony Cellini acting like Captain Ahab: a man totally focused on getting revenge on the monster he has faced before.

The monster!

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