Reptilian Alien Tearing Through Fake Human Face Thermos

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

Anyone remember the 1980s TV series V? I was a kid when they were on, and only barely remember it, but I do recall some reasonably creepy face-peeling by the reptilian aliens as they tore off their human masks to reveal their true, scaly selves.

Honestly, that's about all I remember. But just based on that, I wouldn't have guessed it as a good candidate for a kid's lunchbox set. But then I saw this Thermos on display at a diner in the California desert, and I realized how much growing up I have to do.


  1. Of course it would make a good kids’ lunchbox. They were eating live mice!

    And it had the guy who played Freddy Kruger in it too.

  2. Oh man. The part that I remember was when the half-alien, half-human baby was born, and it looked human and everyone was all “phew it’s a human after all…” and then it’s tongue came out and it was all alien-snake tongue! and then it cut to commercial.

  3. Jeez, kids these days. Don’t remember the classics.

    “V; The Final Battle” was a big deal when it originally aired, and it was spun into a regular series for a season or two afterward.


    You forgot the baby’s twin, born slimy and green, that died shortly. That was the horrific part, at least for a pubescent girl!

  5. Hehe. I too was a kid in the ’80s, and the face peely thing is one of the only things I recall. We were probably slightly traumatized:P

  6. Marc Singer was in V. And that’s all I needed to know to watch it. Looking forward to the reboot.

  7. The thing I remember is the woman eating the mouse whole, and the lump in her neck as she swallowed it. Awesomeness.

  8. I remember the animal gobbling. Does someone eat a budgie too?

    They aired it again around 2001, on Sky in the UK, we sampled it for some hiphop instrumentals, oddly enough there was also a couple of samples from The African Queen in the same track.. mixed metaphor?

    Oh wait! I totally remember the context.. V is about aliens who have come to steal our water, and the African Queen is all about a journey down a river, on a boat. See? Perfectly rational.

  9. I totally remember being terrified of “V” as a kid, and then actually watching an episode and realizing it was way more fake than Star Trek, so therefore I was no longer scared (or, at least, that is what I told myself so I wouldn’t have nightmares).

    And although it seems like a really odd concept for a kid’s lunchbox, I can say from real 1980s experience that a lot of kids watched it. And I mean a LOT!

  10. Wow, there’s a blast from the past! I knew a kid in elementary school who had the V lunchbox/thermos set, and I remember thinking at the time that it was a more than a little bit creepy. IIRC, that kid ended up getting pulled out of school later that year and all we heard about it was that his parents decided to put him in a “private school.” COINCIDENCE?!?!?!?

  11. Need help from bb community on marginally related issue… I don’t remember “V,” but I have vague memories of another 1970’s/early 80’s Saturday morning sci-fi TV show that I can’t for the life of me put my finger on.

    All I really remember is that the main character rode around in a big, silver RV looking thing, out of the back of which could come one (or more?) ATV type vehicles. I seem to remember that it also took place on either another planet or a post-apocalyptic environment.

    I also remember that that background musical riff reminded me of the bridge from The Who’s, “Bargain.”

    If that’s enough to help someone else jog my frozen brain, I’d be grateful.

  12. @ Pantograph – “It had that guy who played Freddy Kruger in it”.

    Firstly he’s not some GUY he’s ROBERT FREAKING ENGLUND!

    And it’s not Kruger it’s KRUEGER! you’re insulting the characters Germanic heritage, a subtextual element of Krueger which was picked up and played so artfully by Mr. Englund.

    Respekt the franchise!!1

  13. @AndyHavens: I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of Ark II, which ran in the later half of the 70s:

    If you search Google Images for “Ark II” and “Ark Roamer” (their ATV thing) you should be able to check your hazy recollections.

  14. V was my first realization that it was very easy to fall in with Nazi ideals if you don’t question authority and that being part of the resistance was so much cooler anyway.

  15. I have both V miniseries and the entire tv show on dvd.

    It makes for awesome viewing and you get to watch the hair get bigger and the eyeshadow get bluer as the years go on.

    Alienbaby is the best part.

  16. I´m kinda miffed that nobody has mentioned Michael Ironside yet.
    Robert Englund is awesome, sure, but to any kid alive in the 1980´s Michael Ironside was the living definition of “badass”. This was long before Chuck Norris had picked up the gauntlet.

    So any series that has Michael Ironside + Robert Englund + icky alien lizards + laser explotions galore is so full of win that it owerflows.

  17. The funny part is that Englund plays the one *good* alien, if I recall. Funny how he’s been typecast as villains afterwords.

  18. My favorite part about V is that the evil alien leader Diana left V one week only to reappear the next week on Falcon Crest playing pretty much the same character.

  19. Although many children did this for other reasons, the whole reason I poured elmer’s glue on my hand, waited for it dry, and peeled it off, was because I wanted to recreate my own personal bit of “V” every day as a small child.

    I too barely remember anything other than the face-peeling, but boy did that one thing have an effect on me.

  20. Not surprisingly, I loved V as a kid – just made my wife (who was too young to remember its original airing) watch the complete series with me and for the most part it holds up really well, if anything its pacing is just a bit slower along with some film conventions that are showing their age (angles, cuts, etc).

  21. Remember being bugged while it was coming out. Reruns of Tom Baker Dr. Who was on at 9 in the morning and got no support and was frequently pre-empted by professional wrestling. This show, which I always thought of as “Dynasty in Space” was plugged beyond belief. Had as the theme “if someone is from far away and funny looking, they’re likely evil”. If you still believe the part about being funny looking, you haven’t been following the career of Rep. Waxman. Hopefully the new series will be transmogrified beyond recognition.

    Curious what Lizardman’s take on this is.

  22. @ SNIG

    Looks like we cross posted and you missed mine.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the “if someone is from far away and funny looking, they’re likely evil” theme though, one of the big points in V was the aliens look just like us (at least in their disguises) and when we discover their true faces we also discover they are evil and here to steal resources and use us as food. Sorry if that is a spoiler for anyone.

  23. @William: YOU ARE MY HERO. That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking of! Many, many thanks. That small, itchy part of my brain is now calm and relaxed.

    And, holy crap… you can see the opening sequence on YouTube, of course:

    “A highly trained crew of young people…” (and a chimp, of course).

    This is truly what makes bb great. Access to the Hive Overmind.

    Thanks again, William.

  24. I think V is what truly cemented the burgeoning geek in me – Star Wars gave me a healthy start but V really nailed it.

  25. @Lizardman

    Interesting. Never thought about it, but I guess it just pushed the wrong buttons for me. As an outsider at the time, i felt more kinship with representations of outsiders. When they drew the outsiders as inhuman maneating monsters not to be trusted, outside of the one token “good monster”, I felt that they’d dissed my people.

    Also, as a young science geek, I disliked the depiction of bringers of new technology as evil schemers.

    And none of the aliens wore scarves or used brilliance and irreverance to overcome smallmindedness, damning it in my eyes.

  26. I dropped out of the boy-scouts because the meetings were on the same night as V the series. if it weren’t for V (or had they invented the DVR earlier) I might be a totally different person today.

  27. Snig,

    By the the time V came out, I had long since resolved myself to identifying with villians since they were always cooler. But with V, I just thought they looked cooler. The aliens were not outsiders, they were the establishment or at least almost instantly merged with the earth establishment.

    As for the bringers of new technology, really the aliens were the suppressors of technology – they witchhunted the scientists (which fit nicely with the R.A.W. I was reading at the time) under the guise of sharing technology. As a young science geek V was probably trying, if anything, to speak to you about the ways in which science was the power to save mankind – the heroes were the scientists discovering the truth behind the alien lies / deceit and organizing the resistance.

    How long has it been since you last watched it? I wonder if time has not oddly colored your memory of its details.

    And I know it is heresy of a sort but Tom Baker, while the one that first drew me into Dr Who, is not my favorite doctor.

  28. Lizardman,
    Thanks for answering. I haven’t looked at it since it came out. I was an adolescent at the time, so judgement was likely suspect. One thing I remember being miffed was the sudden proliferation of “V” novels crowding into the Waldenbooks scifi section. I felt like Hollywood was crowding into my corner of the ghetto. As I said, adolescent, so more than a dram of drama. I may well have not given it enough of a chance. May try again.

    Rowan Atkinson is probably my favorite incarnation of the doctor, so no offense taken.

  29. Arky,

    The mixed metaphors is pretty good for another reason: those mouse-swallowing aliens would have found the African Queen’s waters real tasty, what with all the blood-sucking leeches infesting it.

    I was an adult, so I have no excuse for watching this turkey … but I did.

    Okay: Diana turned me on.

  30. I was a child in the 80s, and Mom didn’t let us watch V. When my brother and I got our wisdom teeth out in college, we rented the entire V miniseries, “Barbarella,” and “Dune.”

    I guess I’m saying it goes well with painkillers. Didn’t they eat a guinea pig, too?

  31. The original contains a scene with a guinea pig that include a large lump going down the throat, there is also a scene with a white mouse eaten by the same alien later in the series – the two get conflated / mixed up a lot

  32. I remember them redesigning the aliens at least 2 or 3 times throughout the run of the series, with no explanation for why the aliens suddently look differant.

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