Richard Bellero (Martin Landau) is a brilliant but frustrated scientist, forever failing to find approval from his wealthy, pacifist-oriented father Richard Sr. (Neil Hamilton), even when he develops a practical high-energy laser. Much to the displeasure of his ambitious wife Judith (Sally Kellerman), he has been told by his father that he is being passed over for chairmanship of the family-founded corporation. By accident, however, Richard's laser device draws in an alien being (John Hoyt) who, among other attributes, possesses an invisible force-shield. Judith sees this shield as something that would earn her husband the respect of his father and the world, and the chairmanship of his father's corporation, if he could claim it as his discovery. With help from her servant Mrs. Dame (Chita Rivera), she shoots the alien and takes the control device, a button attached by a vein to the being's body, and activates the shield for her father-in-law; the shield is, indeed, impenetrable, but Judith finds she is unable to deactivate it. With her air running out, it becomes apparent that nothing, including her husband's laser, can get her free. Her father-in-law finds the alien's body, but is killed by Mrs. Dame, an act that stirs the alien -- who is barely alive -- just long enough to rescue Judith. Now freed, she starts to move across the room but is blocked by a barrier that only she sees -- she has gone insane.