Main cast: Jason Lee (Bob), Jamie Kennedy (John), Laraine Newman (Becky), Edie McClurg (The Farmer’s Wife), Harvey Korman (The Farmer), Chris Sarandon (Carson Walls), and Maureen Teefy (Chrome)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Panic is one of the more wholesome episodes in Perversions of Science – which is to say, it has minimal gore or violence, especially for something with Tobe Hooper at the helm – and Chrome’s bookend segments are the most “adult” moments in here. Still, this is also one of the more entertaining and humorous episodes of the series, believe it or not.
This one is inspired by the infamous 1938 episode of the radio show The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which was based on HG Wells’s War of the Worlds. It had quite a number of its listeners into believing that the world was indeed being invaded by Martians. This time around, a similar broadcast was launched, the whole thing penned and directed by the suave Carson Walls. Among the listeners are Bob and John, two high school kids who are throwing a Halloween party for their friends. Oh dear, the alien landing site is in a tract of land near their place! As these kids begin to wonder whether Martians are really invading Earth, all of a sudden Bob and John begin killing the other kids. What is going on here?
Well, I’m not going to say anything more as that will spoil the fun of folks who have yet to watch this one. Let me say instead that the entire episode works like a charm. The pacing is just right, the camp element is just about the right amount to keep me entertained without making things too silly, and Jason Lee and Jamie Kennedy are just right as two dim-witted kids who walk right into the proverbial pit of dung. The denouement is absurd enough to be just about right too, and even the hilariously fake rubber masks for aliens are just… right.
I’ve had fun, and hence, this episode is simply, absolutely all right!