Saturday, May 28, 2011

'Super 8' alien "very special, scary and unique"

In a recent video interview for Empire magazine, Super 8 director J.J. Abrams described his movie's alien/monster as "very special, scary and unique." Producer Steven Spielberg was in agreement, stating that the creature design was "very, very original." Beyond that, no details were forthcoming of what is already the most talked about alien-beastie of the year. It's an interesting interview, though. Check it out over at Empire (this month's hard-copy magazine also has a lengthy feature on Super 8).

Super 8 is released in the U.S. 10 June.
It's also worth noting that Abrams' and Spielberg's descriptions of the Super 8 alien effectively rule-out any connection between their movie and the much-debated "live alien" footage currently doing the rounds on the Internet, the star of which is a generic and rather friendly-looking little "Grey" fellow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest blogger: Nick Redfern



By Nick Redfern

Back in 2009, I wrote a book titled Science Fiction Secrets that was a study of how, and under what particular circumstances, the realm of science-fiction (whether in books, on TV, or in big-screen films) had crossed paths with that of high-level government secrecy and conspiracy.

Doing the research for the book was something of a revelation for me: it demonstrated that there does appear to be some form of crossover between science-fiction and governmental shenanigans, suggesting the startling possibility that the world of Hollywood and the secrets of the Pentagon may be closer than we think. They may have even come together on occasion to help instill ideas about UFOs and alien life in the collective mind of the populace.

I elected to keep my own views and opinions out of Science Fiction Secrets, and instead I chose to provide the reader with just the facts. But, it’s fair and accurate to say that my personal interest in science-fiction reflects the kinds of things I wrote about in the pages of my book. I’ll tell you what I mean by that. Frankly, watching endless TV shows or films set in the depths of outer-space, in which laser-gun-wielding good-guys and bad-guys do battle with each other, while huge spacecraft soar across the starry skies, and human-looking aliens run around in silver-suits, bores me rigid. In fact, it bores me beyond rigid!

If I am going to watch (or read) science-fiction, then it has to contain a high-degree of conspiracy and cover-up, such as (a) the excellent 1998 movie Dark City and its attendant, menacing Men in Black-style aliens; (b) The X-Files (of course!); (c) the sadly-short-lived Dark Skies; and (d) David Bischoff’s superb UFO book trilogy of 1990-1991: Abduction, Deception, and Revelation (which, if you haven’t read them, then you really, really should!).

But, for me, my all-time number-one science-fiction/conspiracy product is, without doubt, the classic, paranoia-driven 1960s series, The Invaders, that starred actor Roy Thinnes as the alien-hunting hero of the show, David Vincent.

A great combination of the best parts of The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone, Invaders from Mars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Outer Limits, The Invaders was a show years (actually, decades) ahead of its time, and one that easily eclipsed the simplistic, mindless and cheap to make, “shoot ‘em up”-style science-fiction output that seemed (and still seems) so popular on certain TV channels.

Oozing a high degree of menace, a sinister atmosphere, thought-provoking plotlines, and – at the heart of it all – human-looking, hostile aliens bent upon the infiltration of our society and the ultimate destruction of the Human Race, The Invaders came across rather like a UFO-themed All the President’s Men mixed with The Parallax View, and then given a liberal shot of 24’s Jack Bauer.

I recall first watching the show as a young kid in the 1970s, utterly enthralled by David Vincent’s near-solitary quest to expose to the world the dark truth of the alien threat amongst us – while all the time pursued by definitive Men in Black-style extraterrestrial assassins. I thought: this is great!

The show was then repeated some time in my teens, and prior to recently purchasing the DVD set, I was probably in my late-twenties when I last watched the show. And, I’m pleased to say that, having now devoured the entire DVD collection, The Invaders still stands the test of time, more than 40-years after it first aired (the show actually ran for two-seasons: from January 1967 to March 1968).

It’s a great shame indeed that the show was cancelled before the story reached its conclusion. No: The Invaders did not come to an end because of some high-level conspiracy. Ratings were the culprit. But, that the series still commands a loyal following, that it’s now available for one and all to own, and that its legacy is an immensely notable one makes, in my view, The Invaders the definitive science-fiction work.

Nick Redfern and alien-hunter David Vincent (otherwise known as Roy Thinnes)

And there’s an afterword to all this: 4 or 5-years ago, I met actor Roy Thinnes while filming a TV show in New York. I’m very pleased to say he was happy to sit and talk with me backstage, while we waited to be called to the cameras. I had a fun 45-minute (or thereabouts) chat with Thinnes about The Invaders, as well as about his starring role in The Norliss Tapes – the 1973 pilot for a planned paranormal-themed series that was sadly never made, but which would have made a fine follow-on from The Invaders.

I’m also pleased to be able to say that Thinnes was refreshingly free of the tiresome egotism that affects so many Hollywood types, was friendly and talkative, and discussed his good memories of working on the show, and his thoughts on the UFO puzzle. As for me, well I knew I was hanging out with actor Roy Thinnes, but a part of me just could not help thinking: Holy Crap, I’m sitting next to alien-hunter David Vincent!

Nick Redfern is the author of numerous books (listed here), including the recently-published Space Girl Dead on Spaghetti Junction, and The Real Men In Black (New Page Books, June 16).

Guest blogger exclusive #4

In the fourth instalment of the Silver Screen Saucers guest blogger mini-series, Nick Redfern takes us on a nostalgic trip back to his youth through his fond recollections of watching what would become his all-time favourite UFO-themed TV show. Little did Nick know that one day he'd be shooting the breeze with its star. Read on...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

UFO researchers and character assassination through Hollywood

In her recent guest article for Silver Screen Saucers, Linda Moulton Howe described how in 1980 a Hollywood producer had sought to use the title of her animal mutilation documentary – A Strange Harvest – for a big screen adaptation of her work and had even requested the right to lift from her documentary entire excerpts of real witness testimony.

Linda had serious reservations, however, and was concerned that the use of her factual but bizarre animal mutilation information in the context of a "Friday-night sci-fi flick" would not only damage her reputation as a serious journalist, but also the credibility of the mutilation phenomenon itself.

Linda ultimately denied the producer her requests. It was a wise decision, as the resultant movie – Endangered Species (1982) – distorted the facts as documented in A Strange Harvest out of all recognition and effectively pushed the idea of animal mutilations further into the realm of cinematic fantasy. And perhaps that was the point: take a serious and controversial idea, then rubbish it in the public mind through the process of ‘Hollywoodisation.’

Linda’s ‘near-miss’ with Hollywood has clear echoes of a case from the mid-1950s involving Donald Keyhoe – then a jagged thorn in the side of the US government’s UFO secret-keepers. A group of Hollywood producers had approached Keyhoe seeking to buy the rights to his non-fiction book, Flying Saucers from Outer Space (1953), telling him their film was to be a serious documentary about UFOs. Although initially suspicious, Keyhoe eventually went along with the deal. Big mistake. Upon its completion in 1956, the "documentary" turned out to be the schlock sci-fi B-movie Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers. Keyhoe was outraged and demanded that his name be removed from the film's credits, but to no avail.

As suspicious as all of this may sound, it should be noted that - as far as I can tell - there are no clear links to the US government from the producers of either Endangered Species or Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers. The same can be said for the writers and directors of these two movies. It could be argued, however, that if any such links were plain to see, then the government's propagandists would be undeserving of their paychecks. In short, more research is required into not only the backgrounds and professional associations of the key individuals involved in these movies, but also the precise structure and financing of the production companies and studios that backed them. Although I myself am currently engaged in such research, finding satisfactory answers is a laborious process - all the more so considering most of the individuals involved in these movies are either retired or dead, and that their production companies no longer exist. Still, if and when I find anything of note, I'll report it here at Silver Screen Saucers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guest blogger exclusive #3

In the third instalment of the Silver Screen Saucers guest blogger mini-series, Emmy Award-winning TV producer and investigative reporter Linda Moulton Howe recounts a meeting she once had with a Hollywood producer who took a took a special interest in her ground-breaking animal mutilation documentary, A Strange Harvest (1980), and who had some rather suspicious requests of Linda in the context of a future big-screen adaptation of her work. Read on...

Guest blogger: Linda Moulton Howe

When Hollywood Wanted "A Strange Harvest"

By Linda Moulton Howe

Thirty-one years ago on May 25, 1980, my ninety minute TV documentary A Strange Harvest was first broadcast on the CBS Channel 7 KMGH-TV in Denver, Colorado. At the time, I was Director of Special Projects and produced documentaries and live studio programs about science and environmental issues. The subject of A Strange Harvest was my 9-months-long investigation of the animal mutilation mystery in Colorado and the surrounding region, North America and beyond to both hemispheres of this planet. Cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and even wild game such as deer and marmots were found dead with bloodless excisions and no tracks around their bodies, not even their own tracks.

My documentary crew and I travelled to many mutilation sites and interviewed sheriffs and deputies in law enforcement. Retired former Logan County Sheriff Tex Graves showed us photographs of strange aerial lights he and others had seen over pastures where mutilated animals were found with the same bloodless pattern of excisions. But even though Sheriff Graves had told me off camera that he and others in law enforcement believed the animal mutilation perpetrators were “creatures from outer space,” he would not talk about that on camera.

Then on the evening of October 18, 1979, in an interview with Lou Girodo, Chief Investigator for the District Attorney's Office in Trinidad, Colorado, he said those words on the record. Lou had been assigned to investigate the several cattle mutilations around Trinidad and with our TV camera rolling, I asked him, “Who? or what? do you think is killing and mutilating these animals?” Lou Girodo looked right at me and said, “Who is doing this now is very possibly creatures not of this planet.” He and a deputy had even watched an orange glowing sphere split in two over a farm region where there had been cattle mutilations. One orange sphere went north and the other orange sphere went south. A few minutes later, Lou said with amazement in his voice, the two orange spheres merged back together “and went straight down into the ground!”
KMGH-TV Director of Special Projects Linda Moulton Howe with TV cameraman Richard Lerner and audioman Mark O'Kane in cattle corral south of Denver, Colorado in spring of 1980 during production of Howe's investigation of the animal mutilation mystery, A Strange Harvest, that originally broadcast on May 25, 1980.

After the May 25, 1980, first broadcast of my documentary investigation, the station phone operators could not keep up with all the viewer calls and the mail room started dragging large, gray canvas bags full of letters to my office. Usually, the opening sentences were, “I've never told anyone this before,” and then it would be a description of an orange glowing sphere over a pasture where a farm animal was found bloodlessly mutilated. Or there were sketches of what people thought first were helicopters, but there was no noise and the “helicopters” dissolved into misty clouds or simply popped out of visibility.

One of the phone callers was a Hollywood producer named Carolyn Pfeiffer, from Alive Enterprises, who was working with then-feature film director Alan Rudolph, a protégé of director Robert Altman. Rudolph had worked as an assistant director for Altman on The Long Goodbye and later Nashville. Pfeiffer said she wanted to visit me at Channel 7 in Denver to screen my documentary, A Strange Harvest, and to talk with me about a feature production concerning the animal mystery that Alan Rudolph wanted to direct.

She came, screened my film and then proposed her company licence my title, A Strange Harvest, for their Hollywood production. Further, she wanted my written permission for the Hollywood production to use whole excerpts of interview dialogue from my documentary. Every intuitive instinct I had said, “No, the credibility of my non-fiction documentary investigation will be weakened, even ruined, if Hollywood gets to use my title, script and the honest words of real people in a made-up, fiction movie.”

Endangered Species movie poster: "What you don't know can kill you." The small-print blurb reads: "This is a bizarre mystery story... direct from today's headlines. Someone is trying to cover-up what ranchers and journalists know is true. This is not science fiction. The facts are documented. The danger is real."

Carolyn was upset that I wouldn't go along with her proposal. But I was so relieved that I followed my gut instinct when I finally saw the 1982 Hollywood production, Endangered Species, distributed by MGM. I was dismayed that none of the actual worldwide, bloodless, trackless animal mutilation phenomenon was portrayed accurately in the “Friday night flick.” Instead, it was as if Rudolph asked a butcher to slice up some cattle carcasses and then concocted a story line about a secret American paramilitary operation whose agenda never made any sense. And had nothing to do with the true animal mutilation mystery that has been reported since at least the mid-20th Century ongoing to date around the world in both hemispheres and that law enforcement has long attributed to “creatures from outer space.”

I often wondered if Endangered Species were a modern counterintelligence gambit that substituted paramilitary operations for weather balloons and swamp gas in the ongoing United States policy of denial about the UFO phenomena in the interest of national security as ordered during the Truman Administration? 

Copyright © 2011, Linda Moulton Howe

Linda Moulton Howe is a graduate of Stanford University with an MA in Communication. She has devoted her documentary film, television, radio, writing and reporting career to productions concerning science, medicine and the environment. Linda has received local, national and international awards, including three regional Emmys, a national Emmy nomination and a Station Peabody award for medical programming. Her groundbreaking documentary A STRANGE HARVEST was instrumental in bringing to popular attention the worldwide phenomenon of ‘animal mutilations.’ Linda has also produced numerous documentaries on other topics for organizations such as UNICEF (on child survival efforts) and for Turner Broadcasting (on environmental challenges).

Linda has been interviewed on a variety of television programs including CNN’s Larry King Live; Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor; and The History Channel’s popular Ancient Alien series, among others.

Linda produces, reports and edits the award-winning science, environment and earth mysteries news website, In 2010, Linda was honored with the Courage In Journalism Award at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by the Paradigm Research Group’s X Conference.

Linda has written four books: MYSTERIOUS LIGHTS AND CROP CIRCLES, about eyewitness accounts and scientific research of biophysical and biochemical changes in affected cereal crops by complex energy systems; AN ALIEN HARVEST, about the worldwide animal mutilation phenomenon; and GLIMPSES OF OTHER REALITIES, VOLUMES I AND II, about U. S. military, intelligence and civilian testimonies concerning non-human interactions with Earth. All of these books, as well as Linda's A STRANGE HARVEST documentary and its sequel, STRANGE HARVESTS 1993, are available for purchase through the shop

For a list of Linda’s forthcoming festival and conference appearances, see

Contact Linda Moulton Howe at:  

TEL:  505-797-7727       
FAX: 505-797-7908

More Spielbergian intrigue...

Two new clips of the Spielberg-produced, J.J. Abrams-directed UFO movie Super 8:

Needless to say, they don't show much!

Just what the alien (or aliens) in this movie looks like is still anyone's guess. Care to guess, anyone?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almost Vacation Time

I got over to Eastern Island and checked on the short-tailed albatross chick this week.  It still looks like it's doing alright.  It will have to be banded soon.  We don't want to lose track of that one.  The weather is getting warmer so more of the other albatross chicks are starting to die from starvation or dehydration.  I still haven't got any Laysan duckling photos, as I said before though, I like to leave them alone.  There isn't much big news out here again this week, but it is the last week for this group of volunteers.  We'll be getting a new trio of volunteers on the Thursday flight.  That is also the flight that I'm leaving on.  I'll be heading back to Alexandria, VA to visit Dasha (my wife), but I'll do one more blog from there next week most likely.  I'm not sure if anyone on island will be doing any type of blog for you to get your Midway info.  Every once in a while a volunteer will start one.  I'll let you know if anyone does. 

 This is the latest photo of the short-tailed albatross chick on Eastern Island.

 This photo was taken a few weeks ago by Joe Van Os.  He led a couple of groups for Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris.  If you'd like to read his trip report or see a slideshow of some of his photos, you can check out:

The vegetation is coming back on Eastern Island.  This was all bare sand a month ago.

A white tern found a dead naupaka bush to rest on.  Well, I guess it's not quite dead because you can see a few leaves sprouting out of the branch.

I'm showing a few more of the old buildings lately.  This is the old machine shop.

 Here are a bunch of circular saw blades that I decided to try to get creative photos with.

 Here's one of the shots.  I zoomed in as I snapped this one.  I won't bore you with all 240 pictures I took of these sawblades.

It looks like this albatross is contemplating whether or not this sign pertains to it.  It says "AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED  All Public Entry Prohibited".

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest blogger exclusive: #2

In the second instalment of the Silver Screen Saucers guest blogger mini-series, Hollywood filmmaker Paul Davids provides a comprehensive overview of Tinseltown's historical fascination with extraterrestrials and gives thoughtful consideration to what he refers to as "The Black-Ops Theory of Hollywood science-fiction films."

Incidentally, just who were those mysterious Men in Black types sniffing around the production of Davids' 1994 Roswell movie? Read on...

Guest blogger: Paul Davids


By Paul J. Davids

The State of Kansas will forever be identified with a fictional man named Oz and the click of the heels of a pair of ruby red slippers. Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower will always be connected somehow with mashed potatoes, a certain five bars of music, and a famous Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

The power of Hollywood to imbed images and sounds – from the click of red slippers to the slosh of mashed potatoes – into the conscious awareness (and Jungian collective unconscious) of millions of people has been a fact for nearly a century, when it all began with silent films.

At first, it was done exclusively using what we have called the Silver Screen, and the only sound was an organ, while you read captions. Then came the Talkies. Then came the Tube. Then Video. Now comes a range of technologies for receiving images and sounds that is so varied and wide that it’s a challenge to keep up with IPhones, IPads, IPods and all the other IP’s. 

Media has featured a variety dramas and comedies and themes of every kind imaginable, but some themes rose to prominence. One of those themes which gained colossal power over the viewing public was the theme that we are not alone in this universe, and that we have been visited by strangers from other worlds, some of them resembling us not only physically, but also in terms of our obsession with warfare and destruction.

The spacemen that resemble human beings got their first foothold in Saturday afternoon serials. We met those aliens along with heroes like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Radar Men from the Moon were among the first movie alien villains. Superman became a very famous fictional alien from Krypton. There was a large supply of movies featuring people playing the role of space visitors, and they spoke English but carried futuristic ray guns and often wore silly capes.  Their space-faring vehicles had control panels that often unfortunately looked less complex than the airplanes control panels of the day. Eventually, creatures and monsters began to join cinema’s population of alien beings.

The point is that a marriage was made between Hollywood cinema and aliens from outer space, and it is the longest Hollywood marriage in existence. This may have begun as a shotgun wedding, but it is still a solid match. There has been no divorce, and we have well passed the Golden Anniversary of UFO’s in cinema. The public, of all ages, approves, or this would not be our entertainment. What began as something very small became a one hundred billion dollar enterprise. It became one of America’s largest exports to the rest of the world.

I have been a fan of science-fiction since I was a young sci-fi boy, and I am gratified to have had the opportunity to play a small role in these developments in Hollywood. In 1994, Showtime funded and released an original television movie on which I served as executive producer and co-writer of the story. It was called ROSWELL when initially released, and when it went to video, the title was expanded to ROSWELL: THE UFO COVER-UP. Unlike many of the other alien-themed movies, it claims a basis in fact: The Roswell Incident of 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. 

Paul Davids with Martin Sheen and Kyle MacLachlan during the filming of Roswell (1994)

While we were developing and making this movie, strange things happened that reminded me of the Men in Black. In the early 1990’s when we were at work on this film, a great deal was happening in the world of ufology. Some of it was related to the MJ-12 documents which had surfaced mysteriously without any specific provenance, and which appeared at face value to be secret briefing papers for President-elect Eisenhower. A few documentaries were breaking through on TV at that time suggesting extraordinary secrets involving alien technology, dating back to the days of the 1947 Roswell Incident and extending to Area 51, Nevada, in present day.

We seemed to be under some kind of surveillance in making the film. People were appearing inexplicably offering special kinds of help and wanting information and to observe. There was an incident where I am sure the authors of the book UFO CRASH AT ROSWELL were being followed in an obvious way, and sometimes telephones may have been tapped. Phone calls would be repeatedly disconnected when certain subjects were discussed, especially involving alien bodies. Yet despite all this, there was no interference with the film and no effort to impede it. If anything the opposite was true. We were helped in every possible way to complete a very difficult production more quickly than seemed possible. We had the impression that the film was wanted, that others operating in an unseen way understood its larger purpose. And yet in spite of the success and popularity of the film, there was an onslaught of a debunking campaign against it as soon as it was ready for broadcast. It was attacked from many quarters in the press and from debunking organizations, but the incident with the most repercussions for public credibility was the Pentagon press conference in September 1994 announcing that the Roswell Incident had been solved, and that it had nothing to do with aliens.

This raises a lot of questions about how films are used for unexpected purposes by organizations with agendas, and one of the largest organizations with agendas is the Federal government. More than a decade after making ROSWELL, after making independent films that included TIMOTHY LEARY'S DEADSTARRY NIGHT and THE ARTIST AND THE SHAMAN, in 2006 I took up the theme of the connection between Hollywood and aliens in a feature documentary I produced and directed.  It was an independent film I decided to call THE SCI-FI BOYS.  It was eventually picked up and released to DVD and television worldwide by Universal Pictures, but it started as a totally private project with no corporate support. THE SCI-FI BOYS is a documentary that deals specifically with how a cottage industry (special effects movies, mainly with alien and UFO themes) developed into a multi-billion dollar business over more than half a century.   

Front from left: Peter Jackson and Forrest J. Ackerman. Rear from Left: Basil Gogos, Rick Baker, Bob Burns and Paul Davids. Golden Globes party, 2005.

How did the marriage of Hollywood and aliens start? Some say human imagination made it inevitable. Herbert George Wells declared war against Mars in a famous novel long before there were movies. Orson Welles followed suit, using radio to convey the message of Herbert George. That was in 1938, and Orson panicked your grandparents.  As if the world didn’t have enough else to worry about in 1938.  World War was going to burn Europe once again. And we had plenty of heroes and villains here on earth, without needing to reach beyond out planet’s atmosphere.

But then less than a decade after that war, one of the generals of World War II – General Douglas MacArthur – said something funny about space aliens in a speech at West point that, well… wasn’t very funny. He said that “The next war will be an interplanetary war. The nations of the earth must someday make a common front against attack by people from other planets.” The quote is cited by nearly every historian of UFO’s (we call them ufologists). It is part of the UFO Holy Grail.

The quote by General MacArthur makes us think that maybe the shotgun wedding of Hollywood and aliens didn’t happen by accident – and it wasn’t merely a result of imagination merging with cinematic technology. Maybe there was method to the madness. If the premise of ROSWELL is a fact, and if an alien spaceship and its crew did meet a disastrous end in the deserts of New Mexico in 1947, then it didn’t take very long for that concept to reach the silver screen. Howard Hawks produced a dramatic masterpiece in 1951 called THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. To most of us, it was known simply as THE THING. And what a Thing it was.

THE THING (1951 version) was the story of a flying saucer crash, not set in the desert of New Mexico, but in the Arctic. All the themes of the Roswell Incident were there. The military covered it up. A newsman pleaded for disclosure. There was buried saucer wreckage. There was an alien body (that turned out to be still alive). There was secrecy. And in the movie, there was danger.

If the Roswell Incident was a real spaceship, could THE THING have been a way of dramatizing the story couched in fiction? It was based on a science-fiction story called WHO GOES THERE? But there are thousands of science-fiction stories, and only a small fraction of them are produced as films.  Was it a coincidence that a great producer put this tale to film just three years after the famed declaration of the Roswell Daily Record that: RAAF [ROSWELL ARMY AIR FORCE] CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION. Howard Hawks’ film changed the location from the New Mexico desert and added snow and ice.

Since THE THING came out, I believe there have been more major motion pictures about alien/human inter-cosmic relations than there have been Westerns and World War II movies and comedies combined. Usually those inter-cosmic relations have been frosty. The aliens seldom, if ever, have our best interests at heart. Since there have been no credible disclosures from the government, generation after generation wonders whether there is truth in Hollywood’s space mythology, as is implied by General MacArthur’s West Point remarks.

The budgets of these films have ranged from the miniscule to the immense. Low-budget space films such as INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN and KILLERS FROM SPACE flowed throughout the 1950’s. They came to us courtesy of Roger Corman, Lou Arkoff, American International Pictures and even major studios, such as Columbia Pictures (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS). The high-budget films of the 1950’s included FORBIDDEN PLANET, which taught us about advanced alien technology, and THIS ISLAND EARTH, which showed us that sometimes human-like aliens walk among us.  here was also George Pal’s classic version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, released by Paramount Pictures, a superb drama with the master’s touch that exceeds every attempt to mimic it, reshoot it or copy it.

With the advent of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the budgets grew exponentially. Spielberg made it a personal mission to take the public by the hand as both a dramatist and teacher. The education and lessons in E.T. and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and A.I. could fill a university course. From his bar-room scene on the planet Tattooine in STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, George Lucas taught us that beings of all shapes and sizes filled a certain galaxy far, far away… and he helped prepare us for the fact that our own galaxy might contain similar surprises.

So does all this stem only from imagination? Or only from the pursuit of commercial success? Or has some other driving force been at work behind the scenes, steering Hollywood to become a sort of propaganda mill for the idea that we may be unknowingly sharing our world with EBE’s or Extraterrestrial Biological Entities? This is, in essence, the Black-Ops Theory of Hollywood and government related to UFO’s. The theory is expounded upon in many books such as Richard Dolan’s multi-volume: UFOS AND THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE.

The Black-Ops Theory of Hollywood science-fiction films credits military intelligence and the CIA for the fact that fictional aliens long ago gained great importance for the Los Angeles film community. A Congressional panel known as the Robertson Panel of the early 1950’s offered as its conclusion the idea that belief in flying saucers could be dangerous for the American public. Such beliefs were problematic, Congress decreed, because they could confuse and weaken morale in times of international conflict. Congress recommended that Hollywood (Disney studios was specifically named) join in a national UFO debunking campaign. Part of debunking belief in saucers was to make the whole concept appear to be ridiculous, and Hollywood became instrumental in that effort for awhile, no question about it.

If you do have a question about it, take a look at I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE. Or watch (if you dare) the immortal Ed Wood monstrous classic, widely declared the worst film ever made: PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE.  Delores Fuller, who starred in many Ed Wood movies and was his lover, passed away May 10th 2011, but memories of what Ed Wood wrought have not passed away. His strongest message was a simple one: aliens are here in flying saucers and the government is lying to you about it. And his films made his premise seem utterly and totally ridiculous, especially when the aliens became grave robbers from outer space. His special effects were preposterous, and his sense of believability was totally absent. It played right into what the Robertson Panel wanted. 

The other facet of the Black-Ops theory is expressed in the Brookings Institute’s Report to Congress of 1960, PROPOSED STUDIES ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF PEACEFUL SPACE ACTIVITIES FOR HUMAN AFFAIRS. The Brookings research team, led by sociologist Margaret Meade and other notables and government consultants of that time, sounded an alarm. They concluded that if our space exploration were to bring us into contact with beings from other worlds, or even artifacts of their vanished civilizations, such as extraterrestrial ruins, the discovery would cause massive culture shock for humanity. It might bring about panic, angst and disintegration of religious belief or loss of confidence by scientists and political leaders in the concept of human supremacy. The government was advised that if such discoveries were made, it would be in the best interests of the ‘domestic tranquility’ to withhold the information until the public had been sufficiently prepared (Of course, it’s possible… and I personally think very likely… that even while the Brookings report was being written, contact had already occurred, as depicted in our film ROSWELL).

Getting the public prepared for such a leap in awareness requires a ‘Public Acclimation Campaign.’ Author Richard Hoagland (DARK MISSION: THE SECRET HISTORY OF NASA) calls it the ‘Time-Release Aspirin Plan.’  That means giving the public hints of these ‘New Truths’ in little doses. This is like gradual immunization, to prevent a gigantic Freak-Out when our cherished beliefs about our place of primary importance in God’s universe begin to collapse.

Thus, it is fair to say, Hollywood has for more than half a century been the city of the ‘Time-Release Aspirin Plan.’  From Ray Harryhausen’s classic 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS all the way up to INDEPENDENCE DAY and MEN IN BLACK, WALL-E, PAUL, DISTRICT NINE, SKYLINE and BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, almost every nook and cranny of the alien invasion and visitation theme has been explored. And that includes all the themes emphasized today by ufology’s authors and lecturers.

Consider these examples:


Implants and body probes using needles (INVADERS FROM MARS).


Hypnosis to recall alien abduction memories (KILLERS FROM SPACE).


Contamination and infestation due to alien life forms (DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, ANDROMEDA STRAIN).

Alien ruins on the moon (FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON) or ruins floating in space (ALIEN).

Undersea aliens (THE ABYSS).

Impregnating Earth Women (VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED).

Crop circles (SIGNS).


The Mothman creature in West Virginia (THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES).

And then came the Mars movies, beginning with films such as THE ANGRY RED PLANET and ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS in the 1950’s up to TOTAL RECALL and MISSION TO MARS.

About the only theme that’s been under-worked is cattle mutilation. However, the milk industry did a TV ad about aliens abducting cattle and they used the tag-line “Got Milk?”

Amidst all of the scares and horrors, there has been the sub-genre of Supposedly True UFO Stories. Truth is in the eye of the beholder and the presenter. But there is a body of cinematic works, based on events to which there is public testimony in books, articles and the like. These have been very limited in number. You can count them on the fingers of one hand or maybe two.

In the category of Supposedly True UFO Stories, Hollywood has brought the awful hidden “Truth” to light. Namely that E.T. will never really phone home using Speak and Spell or covet Reese’s Pieces. Why so few of the movies that claim to be “The Real Stuff?” Do people want to know that maybe, just maybe, the real E.T. is here to cut up our cows before we can make hamburgers out of them? 

Supposedly True UFO Films probably began with THE UFO INCIDENT, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction story. There was FIRE IN THE SKY, about Travis Walton’s alien abduction. Once again, I will bring up ROSWELL which was about, well… all the weirdness that happened in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. Let’s include COMMUNION, about Whitley Strieber’s adventures with the gray entities with wrap-around big black eyes that go bump in the night. Include THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, of course. And THE FOURTH KIND is a Supposedly True UFO Film but in that case the operative word is definitely “supposedly.”  Internet bloggers have made it clear that this is a UFO version of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Never happened as an actual case, but maybe it was inspired by a few things that did.

What does the deficiency of stories based on true cases really mean? If you’re a Black Ops agent whose job is to keep the lid on the supposed UFO invasion, you’d only want to see a few of those productions get made. It’s like a big booster shot that you only get once in a rare while. But it helps to keep the Big Secret if Hollywood keeps producing UFO tabloid fiction at the level of Ed Wood.

Let’s now consider the TV series. There have been more aliens on TV than in theaters. CONEHEADS, ALF, THE INVADERS, MORK AND MINDY, X-FILES, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, STAR TREK, ALIEN NATION, V, DARK SKIES and mini-series such as Steven Spielberg’s TAKEN. There’s also THE TRANSFORMERS, the all-alien robot show about the Autobots and Decepticons from Cybertron. That show gave me my first “big break” as production coordinator of 79 animated episodes from 1985 through 1986. All considered, the various TV series about aliens tended to reduce all of this far-out stuff to the mundane. How could you get too excited about aliens living in your neighborhood if they have pointy cone-shaped heads and are brought to you by Cheerios, Oreo Cookies and AT&T?

Hollywood also churns out UFO documentaries. Most of these claim to be true in most details. From the Bermuda Triangle to the secret NASA Shuttle tapes or the supposed Roswell Alien Autopsy, this entertainment usually appears on the tabloid TV shows. Things have been changing, though. The History Channel has its own UFO franchise. So does the Discovery Channel. UFO Magazine’s publisher, Bill Birnes, has become a TV personality with UFO HUNTERS. The UFO subject is now at the edge of legitimacy. However, President Obama has done his part to keep things from getting out of hand. On May 2nd, 2011 at the Correspondents’ Dinner, a humorous affair that’s always a cross between a roast and a ribbing, Obama equated “birthers” with the conspiratorial types who question whether the U.S. really sent astronauts to the moon and with those who are still prying into Roswell.

Which leads me to ask: Mr. President, is there really something foolish about prying into the Truth about Roswell? And why do you think so? Why is this a matter for ridicule without a clear-headed look at the facts, as reported so precisely in WITNESS TO ROSWELL, by Donald Schmitt and Tom Carey? 

Never mind. Let’s not hold our breath waiting for an answer. The fact is, the great Hollywood alien space race has been enough to make all our heads spin. And that seems to have been the idea all along, because nobody ever could have foreseen in the 1950’s that this would become a one hundred billion dollar business. By now, all movie-goers are probably entitled to an honorary Ph.D. in the field of Hollywood Space invasions. We’ve been well prepared. The fear Orson Welles stirred up in 1938 will never return. Now we have learned how to “kick some alien butt” and “rid the galaxy of alien scum” thanks to Tommy Lee Jones and his fellow Men-in-Black. Does it sound like a space war is really coming? Or that real aliens are sticking their noses (if they even have noses) into humanity’s business?

The bottom line in all of this for me: While we were filming ROSWELL, some very mysterious people were extraordinarily interested in exactly what we were doing. Within a few months of the film being broadcast for the first time, the games seemed to end. No more clicking on the phone lines. No more “knowledgeable informants” trying to shape our thinking and our project.

Maybe General MacArthur knew what he was talking about long ago when he took the podium at West Point. That could explain a lot of things. And maybe astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper were on the right track, too, when they insisted that world governments know aliens are real and that they aren’t talking. Why aren’t they talking?  Hollywood has given us more than a hundred possible answers. But we still don’t know what the real answers are.

Paul Davids with his Roswell movie star

The aliens we created for ROSWELL: THE UFO COVERUP have shown up in photos everywhere from Penthouse centerfolds to online blogs, usually accompanied by false claims that they are “the real thing.” Some conspiratorial folks have suggested that maybe we were shown “the real thing” by the NSA or CIA before designing those movie prop aliens, so we’d get them just right. And they often claim that maybe some of those photos that look so much like our movie props are real alien photos secretly slipped into the pile. Do you wonder and does it keep you up at night? Well, don’t expect any answers from me. Sorry. My lips are sealed. I’ve been sworn to secrecy.

Or maybe not.

But leaving all ambiguities aside, something very big certainly has changed in this picture, since producers, writers and directors began trying to use Hollywood to get the word out. Thanks to new technologies, there has been a breakdown of the control of the Hollywood content providers, who used to have a godlike power over the public. For nearly a century, the incredible power of media has been exclusively in the hands of a select oligarchy that could unilaterally select content, and could shape, censor and advertise messages using vast tools of multimedia, from print ads to billboards. Usually this was done exclusively in the name of entertainment – and profits.

YouTube now gives the power to YOU to distribute movies and videos. And the internet gives you the power to instantly distribute still photos to very large groups of people. It is harder than ever before to prove any of those movies and videos and photos are real. The tools to tamper with photography have never been more sophisticated. “Seeing is believing” should no longer be true, whether the evidence is couched in the fiction of a Hollywood movie or posted by some anonymous source on the worldwide web. Unfortunately, this leaves us more at the mercy of those who have something to hide – and keeps us under the thumb of those who are devoted to keeping the public in the dark about things the public wants to discover and deserves to know.

Copyright © 2011, Paul Davids.

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Paul Davids is a Princeton graduate who has 79 credits on the TRANSFORMERS TV show plus a credit on the original TRANSFORMERS movie (1985) and then went on to co-write and executive produce the Showtime original film ROSWELL, nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture for Television (1994). He has co-authored six STAR WARS books for Lucasfilm with his wife, Hollace Davids (THE GLOVE OF DARTH VADER, LOST CITY OF THE JEDI, ZORBA THE HUTT’S REVENGE, MISSION FROM MOUNT YODA, QUEEN OF THE EMPIRE and PROPHETS OF THE DARK SIDE). He has also produced, written or directed the following motion pictures: SHE DANCES ALONE, TIMOTHY LEARY’S DEAD, STARRY NIGHT, THE ARTIST AND THE SHAMAN, THE SCI-FI BOYS, JESUS IN INDIA and BEFORE WE SAY GOODBYE. He is currently completing the film: THE LIFE AFTER DEATH PROJECT, with Whitley Strieber’s wife Anne Strieber as executive producer with Hollace Davids. He has written and performed a song about Hollywood called WE LOVE YOU, WE HATE YOU which Dr. Demento chose as the lead-off for his March 19th online streamed radio show (visit You can also find WE LOVE YOU, WE HATE YOU at ITunes and