Atomic Submarine: Inspiration for Kang and Kodos

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Kang and Kodos are the two aliens who debuted on “The Simpsons” Halloween special and have been an annual special guest on the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes ever since. Kang and Kodos are two of the most instantly recognizable minor characters on “The Simpsons” and officially achieved legend status with an appearance on the cover of the Season 14 DVD.

The big head monsters with the cyclopean eye, multiple tentacles and slobbering mouth are relatively unique in the world of alien creatures. The names were chosen in homage to characters who appeared on the original “Star Trek” series. Kang was a Klingon and Kodos was known as the Executioner, a title that would come back to describe the Simpsons doppelganger.

“Relatively unique” is the proper way to describe Kang and Kodos. These aliens who call Rigel VII their home may appear to be completely original in their physical attributes, but fans of cheesy 1950s science fiction movies will eventually come across a movie that features an alien that cannot help but remind them of Kang and Kodos.

That movie is “The Atomic Submarine” and although hardly a masterpiece, it is certainly no worse than any other 1950’s sci-fi movie…or any entry in the “Lord of the Rings” series. Melodrama, romance and questionable science make up the bulk of the movie’s running time that is for the most part instantly forgettable. About 70 minutes or so into the movie, however, things suddenly become very interesting as the humans finally get their look at the alien threat.

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Anyone unfamiliar with Kang and Kodos from “The Simpsons” will become much more interested in “The Atomic Submarine” at this point because the alien is much more fascinating than the humans. Those who are familiar with the “The Simpsons” will feel the hair stand up on the back of their neck and a tingling sensation of deja vu shoot through their nervous system. The alien–given the name Cyclops–sports a large head of which the most prominent feature is the single eye. At the bottom of Cyclops are large tentacles. The alien is even covered with a slime that reminds you of the drool which constantly issues from from Kang and Kodos.

The similarity between the Cyclops of “The Atomic Submarine” and the Rigel VII aliens who occasionally pop in for a visit to Springfield even extends to the deep, commanding voice that is tinged with just enough self-satisfied superiority to make it even more unwelcome and threatening. If the perennial Halloween special guest stars Kang and Kodos were not based at least unconsciously on Cyclops, then it has to be one of the most amazing coincidences in history.