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

Three Uncommon [PDF] Papers on Roswell (from our archive)