Buck Rogers 1.14 – Space Vampire

I asked our son whether tonight’s episode was scary. “No,” he said, “but it was very, very weird. And it was in part a mystery! Like why couldn’t anybody see that vampire when he was standing… RIGHT! IN! FRONT! OF! THEM!”

Continuing the show’s unfortunate tradition of silly episode names, this one’s called “Space Vampire.” Yes, the title is terrible, but it could have been worse, as both Buck and the show’s announcer, William Conrad, call the monster a “space age vampire,” reminding us that this was made in 1979. But that’s all the teasing I can muster, because this one is really, really entertaining.

The monster is called a Vorvon and it does all the usual vampire stuff, with the curious twist that vampire tales and legends have mostly died out. Buck figures out what’s going on immediately, and the space station’s doctor has no idea what he’s talking about. Christopher Stone, who must have set a goal to appear on every adventure program from the period, plays the station commander, and he’s certain that it’s some strange space virus that’s killing people.

The episode’s tone is surprisingly creepy and very effective. The music is harsh and angular and, combined with Erin Gray’s performance – she spends the whole hour feeling chilled and unsettled by something she can’t explain – it all works very well. It even features several newly-shot special effects scenes with new ships instead of recycling earlier miniature footage, including a ship crashing into the space station. It feels like the producers knew they had something memorable with this one and gave it some extra attention… which might explain why they had to resort to a clip show just two weeks later!

2 thoughts on “Buck Rogers 1.14 – Space Vampire

  1. I’m surprised there isn’t more posts about this episode. Glad even the studio realized this was a good one. But they did have ulterior motives for making it. The late ’70’s was infamous for its vampire craze the way people (sigh) seem to be nuts for zombies now (ugh). Perhaps the sickness was more acute in the U.S., but vampires seemed to be everywhere with Christopher Lee, Louis Jourdan, Frank Langella, Klaus Kinski, George Hamilton, …even Jack Palance (again, ugh!). Given that, it would have been surprising for there – not – to be a ‘space vampire’ episode in one of the sci-fi shows going at the time…

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