UFO Conjecture(s)

Friday, December 12, 2014

From UFO UpDates [2005]: Gildas Bourdais on films provoking UFO abductions (the Hill episode particularly)

When I was active at UFO UpDates, in the 2005 time-frame, I grabbed this "conversation" between UFO researchers Issac Koi and Gildas Bourdais:

From: Gildas Bourdais
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 18:23:39 +0200
Subject: Re: UFO Couple Use Story To Spark Alien Abduction Fear

From: Isaac Koi
Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 20:04:27 +0100
Subject: Re: UFO Couple Use Story To Spark Alien Abduction Fear

From: Gildas Bourdais
Date: Mon, 9 May 2005 17:18:36 +0200
Subject: Re: UFO Couple Use Story To Spark Alien Abduction

Now, I wish to come back to the possible influence of SF and
UFO stories.

Hi Gildas,

Since this topic has been lingering for a couple of weeks, I
thought it might be worth my chipping in to add a few references
for anyone interested in looking into any of these aspects in
more detail.

First off, as you may know, the Martin Kottmeyer article you
mention is available on the Magonia website at the link below [no longer extant]:


Isaac and all

Thank you for the link. I have read the Kottmayer article with
interest, and I would have many comments to say about it. But I
am just going to come back on some of the SF films which would
be a source of the UFO abduction "lore", according to him, and
other authors such as Kevin Randle. Well, the case seems more
and more dubious to me.

Notes on some films cited by Martin Kottmeyer in his paper
"Entirely Unpredisposed: the Cultural Background of UFO
Abductions reports", and by Kevin Randle et al. in their book
"The Abduction Enigma". The following comments are also drawn
from the "Internet Movie Database Entry", referred to by
Kottmeyer himself, and from some books about SF movies.

1953: "Invaders from Mars"

Note in the book "Yesterday's Tomorrow" by Bruce Lanier Wright
(1993): it is labelled "a kid's movie", together with "The
invisible boy (1957), "Tobor the Great", and "The 5,000 fingers
of Dr T" (p. 146). On the other hand, according to film critic
Philip Strick, in his book "Science-Fiction Movies" (1976), that
film, shot by a William Cameron Menzies (known for his pre-war
British film "Things to Come") had some artistic merits. Strick
found it to be "an ideal metaphor for the political paranoia of
the time..." (p. 14). Is that an invitation to paranoia?

Martin Kottmayer, for his part, points out that "brain implants
are featured in the movie "Invaders from Mars". But there is not
such element in the Hill's incident. So, what is the relevance
to their case? Well, he suggests one. The aliens of "Invaders
from Mars" are of rather human appearance, but with a rather big
nose, and ridiculous bulging eyes, looking like half ping-pong
balls. Kottmeyer compares them with the first description of

"In the original nightmare, Betty compares the noses of the
aliens to Jimmy Durante. This is a very apt description of the
noses of the mutants in "Invaders from Mars". But he also notes
that Barney did not remember that, and that the detail was
"edited out by Betty in her hypnosis sessions".

What can we make of that? Could Betty have been influenced,
inconsciously, at least in her initial effort to remember the
look of her alien abductors, by a very small budget, "B grade"
movie, already height years old in 1961?

Let's admit that it cannot be completely ruled out (maybe a
vague remembrance of a movie poster?), although Betty and Barney
had no interest in such movies. In any case, this supposition
certainly does not permit to argue that she invented her story.
By the way, had they invented it together, Betty and Barney
would have been smarter to give the same description!

1954: "Killers from Space"

Comments in the "Internet Movie Database Entry": "...works
better than sleeping pills..."; and: "...one of the dullest
sci-fi movies around..."; "...a real sleeper..."; "...the only
good thing: the "bulging eyes" of the aliens". Comment of
Kottmeyer: "An abductee.. has a strange scar and a missing
memory of the alien that caused it".

But, like for the implant of "Invaders from Mars", Betty had no
scar. In fact, if she had one, it would have been an element
supporting her story! On the other hand, Barney did suffer
physically, with a circle of warts which had to be removed
surgically. Nothing like that was shown in that film or any
other of the time: so much for the influence of SF movies. 1956:
"Not of this Earth" (cited by Kevin Randle et al)

This one the very low budget movies, quickly shot in a few days
by  Roger Corman who was a specialist of the genre. Comments in
the book "Yesterday's Tomorrow" (p.142):

The Davannans suffer from a strange anemia and need constant
blood transfusions just to stay alive. Johnson, the alien
scouting the Earth as a potential source of blood, "...can
control people with a form of hypnotic telepathy, and kills his
victims with radioactive blasts from his milky-white eyes,
normally hidden beneath dark sunglasses. He then drains their
blood with an odd pump he keeps in a metal briefcase". Comment
on the alien, by P. Strick in his book "Science-Fiction Movies":
"Dedicated as he is to his mission (there is much screaming and
macabre business with tubes and bottles), it seems an inadequate
solution to a racial emergency. Aliens, to judge from the
cinema, behave somewhat irrationally in times of stress" (p.
15). Comment of Kevin Randle et al.: "Although he is not
collecting genetic material, as has been suggested of the aliens
reported by abductees, he is required to send humans to his home
world as they attempt to end the plague destroying them. The
obvious purpose is to gather genetic material." (p. 122)

But again, the same question arises: could such a low budget,
rather comical SF-Horror movie released in 1956, influence
people like the Hills? That seems a bit far fetched. And there
is no precise element, really comparable, in their story.

1956: "Earth versus Flying saucers"

Kottmeyer notes that the film "...also precedes UFO lore in
featuring an abduction in which thoughts are taken. Saucerian
abduct a general, make his head transparent, and suck out the
knowledge to store it in an Infinitely Indexed Memory Bank".

That sounds impressive! Could it inspire nightmarish fantasies
on innocent spectators, and prepare the ground for future
abduction "lore"?

The book "Yesterday's Tomorrow" (p. 106) does not see it that
way, though:

"Earth Versus" was designed to capitalize on the postwar flying
saucer craze, which began in the late forties and reached a
culmination of sorts in the great Washington D.C. flap of 1952,
when for months, it seems, residents of the city could scarcely
go out of doors without having their hats knocked off by silvery
discs from beyond" (sic!). "By the film's end, Marvin (the
heroe) devises an anti-flying saucer ray. In a thoroughly
enjoyable climax, earth's forces use the ray to foil an alien
raid on Washington D.C., and saucers crash into every
recognizable landmark larger than a mailbox".

This one does not seem to have been designed to trigger
nightmarish dreams, either. On, the contrary, it loks like an
effort treat UFOs as entertainment and to reduce the worries of
the public about them. Take it easy, folks, the situation is
under control!

1956: "It conquered the World"

Comments in the book "Yesterday's Tomorrow" (p. 108):

"... a ten-day, $80,000 quickie featuring a giant cucumber
menace..."; the invader resembles "... a conical cucumber with
muscular-looking crab claws...". "...The leaders (of a little
town) are attacked by batlike creatures produced by the alien,
that have, and I quote, "radiological electrode-type things in
their beaks". One sting from a bat-critter makes the victim a
willing slave". At the end of the film, the heroic scientist
"...kills the alien with a blowtorch..."; the book praises the
work of designer Paul Blaisdell: "While his monsters aren't
exactly convincing or frightening, they are charming, and very
much part of the history of the genre".

Here is another note on that film, from the book "A pictorial
History of Science-Fiction films", by Jeff Rovin (1975):

"From Venus came the most absurd-looking monster ever, created
by Paul Blaisdell, who should have known better, in "It
conquered the World (1956)" (p. 103). Nothing there to impress
the Hills, it seems.

1957: "Invasion of the Saucer Men"

Comments in the "Internet Movie Database Entry":
Genre: comedy/sci-fi. "It's great fun for 50's monster lovers".
Comments in the book "Yesterday's Tomorrow"(p. 110):

The film "...began as a serious (more or less) film.... During
the film production, however, it "just sort of collapsed" into a
comedy, as Blaisdell (designer of the bug-eyed monsters) put it.
The result is a weird mishmash that veers from low-grade
slapstick to some fairly gruesome, if unconvincing, violence,
all larded over with an exceptionally irritating "comic" sound
track". Further comments: a small town is invaded by
"...swollen-headed, bulging-eyed midgets from Beyond. The aliens
kill an over-curious passerby by injecting him with a lethal
dose of alcohol delivered through their needlelike claws.
Later... an alien tries this trick on a bull, and gets one of
his huge eyes bloodily gouged out. Remember, it's a comedy, so
yock it up".

Another comment: "... Saucer-Men is fairly dismal by any
objective standard. Unsurprisingly, most of the laughs to be
found here are of the unintentional variety, and so the "so-bad-
it's-good" crowd seems to have adopted the film as a, uh,

Another note on that film, from the book "A pictorial History of
Science-Fiction films", by Jeff Rovin: "Invasion of the Saucer
Men (1957) is another of those teenagers-versus-aliens films;
however, there is something to be said for this effort. It is
what amounts to a satire wherein diminutive creatures from space
inject alcohol into bloodstreams of their victims, making them
drunk; naturally, when the unfortunates run to the police,
their story of alien invaders is not believed. The creatures are
eliminated when teenagers unite and disintegrate them with the
high intensity-beams of their auto headlights".

What we have again is another low budget movie for kids which
ends well, nothing to trigger nightmarish fantasies. But lets
put back in perspective these little sci-fi-horror movies: they
were marginal productions, compared with the better known
movies of that time, and should not be granted more importance
and influence than they had.

Gildas Bourdais


  • A good look at these movies and it seems that comedy had a part to play a some in some of them, sometimes a huge part.
    TV shows like 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Outer limits' also played a part. I heard that the big, black 'wrap-around' eyes of aliens were shown on 'The Twilight Zone' not long before Betty's description of the aliens' eyes changed from a rather pale blue (much like the human equivalent) to large and black and wrapping around the side of their faces.
    I realize that something is not necessarily true just because I heard it from someone.

    By Blogger Woody, at Friday, December 12, 2014  

  • It is very odd, and I think disqualifying, for Bourdais to question the influence of movie imagery by looking up the details in a book or IMDB rather than looking at the movies themselves.

    Certainly, by citing the plot points of Killers from Space, he misses the disembodied eyes that menace Peter Graves' character Doug Martin (a la Barney Hill).

    Dr. Douglas Martin: Those eyes! Those HORRIBLE eyes!

    Disembodied eyes appear as Graves drives down a highway at night:

    They're also in the movie poster:

    Less noted, there is a scene where a disoriented Martin is approached by a hospital orderly; through Martin's blurry vision, the man's facial features soften until they resemble that of a grey-ish alien. (This may explain why many abductees do not see aliens during waking hours but only when they are coming in and out of sleep.)

    I am not writing from home so I cannot upload the images of the orderly that I have captured from the DVD. But the effect has been written up by Malmstrom. These images of his give an idea of what I describe:


    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Saturday, December 13, 2014  

  • It was the "Bellero Shield" episode of the Outer Limits series that Kottmeyer thinks Barney probably saw just 12 days before the hypnosis session in which he described and drew the eyes of an "alien" very similar to the program's.

    But not only did their appearance match, it was the strange twist on the idea of telepathic communication--speaking eyes--that Barney adopted that makes his viewing and the show's influence difficult to question.


    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Sunday, December 14, 2014  

  • "It is very odd, and I think disqualifying, for Bourdais to question the influence of movie imagery by looking up the details in a book or IMDB rather than looking at the movies themselves."

    Bourdais, an old-time ETHer, will ignore anything that threatens his quaint belief in flying saucers piloted by visiting ET. He even promotes Roswell and defends "alien abduction" and calls the PSH case "dubious."

    His summary and dismissal of admittedly mostly forgettable 1950s drive-in schlock might have merit if it weren't for the fact that these films and a hundred others like them--some being much better--played CONTINUOUSLY in theaters and drive-ins and then on late night TV in the USA from the late 1940s to the late 1960s or longer in some regions as documented by their production.

    So how many opportunities did the Hills have, as one example, to see Invaders From Mars in nearly a decade? Plenty! And the same goes for every other person in the USA during those decades. There was a limited range of entertainment choices then and science-fiction had always been a staple of the movie business, so after flying-saucer mania arrived, the ready-made mythology of pulp-fiction was laid on Hollywood's doorstep to be developed and exploited. And that's exactly what it did! One continuous catalogue of plots, conceits, devices, tropes and inventions recombining endlessly to produce nearly every bit of the "UFO" myth in all its variety wonderment and terror.

    To ignore that historical fact and pretend otherwise is contrarian obscurantism of the ETHer kind.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Sunday, December 14, 2014  

  • Yes,, zoamchomsky, these factors which played such a huge part in ufology: science fiction, cognitive bias, the slutty media, characters building stories of alien visitation, stories without real support.
    A determined ingnorance of these things has been vital to the growth of the foul global monster called ufology.
    Without ignoring these real things, observable and testable things, ufological wank may not have grown as strong as it has in our societies.
    Those 'ufologists' who still give some credence to these well known and shown factors, they must still give them less stock in order to forward their own ETH agendas.
    Because those agendas are so damn popular and enriching.
    I think that deep inside, even those 'ufologists' who partially acknowledge the existence of those shown factors know that combined, they strip ufology down to a basic desire to know what some reports may represent, simply in the name of security and a little humble curiosity.
    If there is much more to ufology than these simple concerns, I am unaware of it despite the slimy efforts of the ETH crowd.

    All the best,

    By Blogger Woody, at Sunday, December 14, 2014  

  • The PSH (psycho-social hypothesis) case is not only dubious; it is worthless, pseudoscientific and untestable garbage.

    The being that appears "Bellero Shield" episode is NOT similar to the typical alien described by the Hills or other abductees. Therefore Kottmeyer is LYING if he claims that the being in the “Bellero Shield” is very similar to the one reported by the Hills.

    The notion that science fiction movies and magazines shaped the UFO scenario is ABSOLUTELY preposterous.
    On one hand, the quantity of fiction stories and movies is/was so large that it is/was easy to find vague similarities between stories and description of entities seriously reported by witnesses. Therefore, the purported similarities mean nothing.

    On the other hand, if science fiction stories were to have real influence on people’s minds, we would now have thousands of purportedly real reports of ships and characters from the Star Wars saga, Star Trek saga, Babylon 5, Flash Gordon, ETC. We don't have such reports, ergo the PSH’s untestable notion that there a causal relationship beetwen Sci FI movies and the UFO REALITY is ridiculous.

    By Blogger Don Maor, at Thursday, December 18, 2014  

  • @Don
    > The PSH (psycho-social hypothesis) case is not only dubious; it is worthless, pseudoscientific and untestable garbage.

    Thomas Bullard, UFO proponent with a folklore PhD, agrees with Kottmeyer about the PSH and the Hill case. It's all in Bullard's book "The Myth and Mystery of UFOs" (2010).

    Have a look, Don, and see if you then feel like calling Bullard a liar too.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Thursday, December 18, 2014  

  • Terry:

    Why don't you look at the being of the "the Bellero Shield" episode and see for yourself?

    Oh I forgot that according to the PSH, the perception of humans is highly fallible and therefore you cannot trust your own eyes when they tell your brain that the being shown in the "Bellero Shield" episode DOES-NOT look like the alien described by the Hills or the typical grey alien.

    That is the reason why you need the the wrong but "scholar" interpretation of "authorities" like Kottmeyer (which by the way, is also human and as such (according to his own PSH) highly prone to be fallible regarding his interpretations).

    By Blogger Don Maor, at Friday, December 19, 2014  

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