Overlords of the UFO (1976) (part 1 of 14)
|Summary: Ladies and gentleman: A documentary completely devoid of facts! And no, I’m not talking about Bowling for Columbine. UFO “expert” W. Gordon Allen attempts to reveal the “proof” of the existence of UFOs. After a non-stop ninety-minute voiceover that shatters all rules of grammar, logic, and simple common sense, he reveals absolutely nothing about UFOs. In fact, he reveals a negative amount of information about UFOs. This is a documentary so deranged, so misguided, so incomprehensible, you’ll seriously wonder if people with actual mental deficiencies were involved. And if they ever got help.|
This is the first-ever documentary to make it into the Agony Booth, and my god, it’s a bad one. I mean, just look at that page count up there. I’m creeping into territory previously only occupied by Zardoz and Armageddon with this one. Which is pretty amazing, especially considering Overlords of the UFO is at least thirty minutes shorter than both of those films. But trust me when I say you are not going to believe the crazy shit in this movie. Come on, have I ever lied to you before?
Now, I’m always down for some UFO paranoia. I’ve had something of an interest in UFOlogy ever since reading Whitley Strieber’s Communion, and I’ll admit to doing a fair amount of research on the subject. And some of the evidence of UFO contact is tantalizing, and some of the stories “abductees” tell are so bizarre, and at such a “high level of strangeness” as Strieber put it, that it almost seems like they have to be true. But if UFOs are real, why is there no solid evidence of them? Why has no one ever been able to take a clear photograph of one, or record clear video of a space alien? With the prevalence of digital cameras, video cameras and cell phone cameras these days, it’s pretty hard to believe no one can get a conclusive photograph. Which sort of leads me to conclude that UFOs, at least in the sense of being spaceships piloted by extraterrestrials, probably don’t exist.
But, of course, no little thing like “lack of evidence” is going to stop the makers of Overlords of the UFO. Oh, no. They’ve slapped together some of the weakest proof one could possibly find, everything from interviews that are 100% hearsay, to irrelevant stock footage, to outright fraudulent UFO photographs. Obviously, this movie is trying to be like the TV granddaddy of all pseudo-scientific documentaries, In Search Of… But it fails in a spectacular way. It might be the complete avoidance of facts, it might be the narrator’s utter inability to put words together in a sequence that creates meaning (otherwise known these days as sentences), but this thing is just one big ludicrous, incoherent mess.
This documentary was made in 1976, when UFOlogy was just gaining momentum thanks to the supermarket tabloids. The 1947 Roswell incident, where the US Army briefly claimed to have captured a flying saucer, was just a couple of years away from returning to life as a wildly elaborate tale of alien autopsies and governmental cover-up. (And despite being soundly debunked in the ’90s, the event still retains its mythical status to this day.)
Few people notice that the Roswell story was forgotten for nearly thirty years. It didn’t gain currency until the notion of governmental cover-up suddenly became a lot more believable in the wake of Watergate. These days, it’s sort of a given that you can’t trust the government, and that cynicism has only been reaffirmed by Iran-Contra, Whitewater, Monica-Gate and the Mystery of the Missing WMDs. But until Nixon’s downfall, the idea that the government would lie to us was just plain ridiculous. (Which means we have Richard Nixon to thank for those nutters who seriously believe NASA faked the moon landing.) Therefore, it’s no surprise to hear the narrator of this documentary mention Watergate several times over the course of the film. (Of course, he never mentions Roswell at all, because that particular fable hadn’t yet been resurrected at the time this doc was made.)
Now, I really don’t want to insult any of my readers, but as far as this recapper is concerned, most people who seriously believe in UFOs or claim to have seen aliens are nutcases. They can be very nice people, they can have jobs, they can be great parents. They can have no ulterior motive for saying what they’re saying. They may not even want the slightest bit of publicity or attention. Unfortunately, they’re still nutcases. And Overlords of the UFO is clearly the kind of movie a nutcase makes. As I watched it, I kept asking myself, are the filmmakers really insane? I have no way to know for sure. But if they’re not, then it means they’re just promoting this kind of insanity for the sake of a buck, which is just as bad. Even if they’re perfectly well-adjusted and this movie was intentionally made to be demented, it’s still demented, so I have no qualms about giving it the trashing it richly deserves.
We open on stock footage of snowy peaks. After a few seconds, we switch to a poorly, clumsily animated cartoon of a fighter jet pilot sitting in his cockpit and cruising along. The style is very similar to stuff seen in Heavy Metal, except it’s not really “animated” in any sense of the word. Nothing moves except for the clouds in the background. So it’s like, non-imation. Finally, a rainbow shaped object blinks on and off in the sky behind him. The pilot, of course, doesn’t turn his head to look, because he’s a character in crappy animation.
Then, to a blare of public domain classical music, the rainbow object turns into a standard flying saucer. And then it just hangs there, as motionless as the pilot. And everything’s just there, and nothing is moving. End cartoon. And also, end opening teaser, because right after this we go to the credits. Excited about watching this movie now? I mean, how could you not be, after that action-packed opening?
Any slight trace of excitement should fizzle out completely when you see the credits. In a wobbly title animation, the credit “TOWER FILMS PRESENTS” flies at the camera, and on the left side of the screen is a drawing of, of all things, the Space Needle [?]. Then we get the misleading credit “A SCIENTIFIC NEWS DOCUMENTARY”. I don’t know if that’s an actual production credit for a company called Scientific News, or if they’re just identifying this film for people too lazy to look at the sticker the video store used to categorize this thing.
Then the next credit clarifies that this was brought to us by “Tower Investments International, Ltd”. Yes, this was indeed a wise investment. The movie’s title appears, and it sort of has that rubber stamp, Army 4F look, otherwise known as the A-Team logo. Wow, that is really not appropriate to the subject matter.
Then we see the credit “G. Brook Stanford Production”. That’s right, there’s no “A” before that. So, they literally could not afford to buy a vowel. What’s worse, It’s like the simplest font ever, just plain gold letters on a black background. The largest credit is for “W. Gordon Allen”, and the credit is so large, in fact, that it doesn’t all fit on the screen. Mr. Allen is credited as the “writer”, “producer”, and “scientific advisor”. How he can “advise” scientifically on a movie that he himself wrote is a pretty good question. One of many questions to be posed over the next hour and a half.
Next, some guy named “Donald Dixon” is credited with “Spacescapes”. Yeah, get ready for those. Seeing a credit like that, would you really anticipate anything good? The film also claims to have “visual materials furnished by” a wide variety of organizations, including NASA, the FAA, and the Air Force. Sorry, but just because you went down to the public library and got freely available stock footage filmstrips, it does not mean they “furnished” you with anything. I mean, that’s like me saying this website’s imagery was furnished by Paramount Pictures.
We fade in on a guy in a white sports jacket, yellow shirt, and black tie. Basically, the game show host from hell. He has an almost Hitler-like mustache, and now that I look at it, his haircut is sorta screaming Der Fuehrer too. He claims to have been a “television and radio reporter in the Pacific Northwest” for the last twenty years. Wow. Vague credentials much?
He says he’s reported from “all portions of the world” (“portions”—like the globe is a bucket of KFC) about “the UFOs”. Yes, the UFOs. Which he even clarifies as being “the unidentified flying objects”. Which he then clarifies some more as “the flying saucers”. He says he’s actually seen UFOs himself and reported on them, but in all those stories there’s been “one incredible glaring omission”. Okay, didn’t he just say he was the one who reported all those stories? So, is he basically confessing to being a crappy reporter right here and now? (Actually, I suspect this entire movie could be taken as an confession of his ineptitude, at least unconsciously.)
That glaring omission? According to this guy, “Not one world agency, or one scientific group has even offered a partial solution to this most amazing mystery of all time!” Okay, that wouldn’t really qualify as an omission in one of his stories, would it? Not that I’m doubting his stories have plenty of omissions in them or anything. Meanwhile, I’m really tempted to pick apart generic terminology like “world agency” and “scientific group”, but if I picked on all of this guy’s vague wording, I’d be writing nothing but this recap for the next five years. Suffice to say, this whole movie is full of phrases that mean absolutely nothing if you try thinking about them for more than five seconds. And it’s safe to say the filmmakers never tried that.
Anyway, courtesy of Hitler Mustache, here comes the central theme of this documentary. “No public authority has told us who are the Overlords of the UFO? And why are they here? Right now? At this time?” Now, the use of this phrase, “Overlords of the UFO”, which you can hear him say right here, is quite an astonishing thing to contemplate in this movie. The narrator guy will constantly refer to “Overlords of the UFO” without ever giving us the slightest hint of what they are or what he’s talking about. It’s almost like we’re already supposed to know that there’s one, über UFO out there, and of course it has overlords. I mean, of course it has overlords. You didn’t know that? Punk.
The camera jerkily zooms in on the guy, so I guess this next part is important. Sure enough, his next sentence is forcing me to spend several minutes untangling its loopy logic.
|Host: There is no air force defending any portion of this planet that can truthfully deny that the following documented incidents did take place, and that similar incidents are taking place almost every day, somewhere in the world.|
Got that? Basically, this is equivalent to me saying that since you can’t find absolute proof that a purple polka-dotted dinosaur didn’t appear outside my window last night and smoke a joint with me, it must have happened. And it did! Well, except the dinosaur didn’t share the joint with me. Damn bogarting dinosaurs.
The host (who by the way, will never identify himself on-camera by name—and if that’s intentional, I can’t really blame him) points at a map of the US right next to him. He says military aircraft have disappeared in Florida. And somehow, it had something to do with UFOs. Honestly, that’s almost verbatim of what he says.
He then reports that near Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard workers were abducted by UFOs and “given physical examinations”. And one was found to have a little too much of the “bad” cholesterol. He then reports that women in Kentucky were also abducted and given “physical examinations”, but this time he makes a point of mentioning how terrifying it was for them. Because they’re women, I guess? Hey, if I had to look forward to a speculum every time I went in for a routine check-up, I suppose I’d be terrified too.
The host points at Wyoming, saying that a guy who was elk hunting “was picked up by a UFO along with the elk [!]”, then examined and returned safely. No word on what happened to the elk, unfortunately. But I assume it already has a book deal. He then points at Arizona and talks about the famous Travis Walton UFO abduction story, which is covered in much more detail (and, it goes without saying, much more competently) in the book and movie Fire in the Sky.
He says that a few weeks before that incident, in Alamogordo, New Mexico (which he actually pronounces “Alama-guardo”), “a member of the US military” named Charles L. Moody was also given the physical exam routine by a UFO. But the host claims that to cover it up, the military sent the guy off to Western Europe. Ah, yes, the remote wastelands known as Western Europe. Where surely no piece of information could get to him, or be retrieved from him. Anyway, if you want to know about the actual incident he’s referring to, here you go.
The host says that to the “kidnappers of the UFO, humans seems helpless.” Yes, once again, the UFO. We fade to an article (from what looks like a high school newspaper) promising a one million dollar “UFO Reward”. The host says the “largest circulation newspaper in the United States” is offering this reward. And I’m looking at this article, and after a while it becomes clear that it’s merely quoting an offer from the National Enquirer. So, they couldn’t get a copy of the Enquirer, and they’re showing this Xeroxed sheet of paper instead? Wow, I’m filled with confidence. Also, at the bottom of the page I see a reference to the “Overlords of the UFO”, so I imagine whatever paper we’re looking at is actually connected to this nonsense somehow.
There’s a drawing of a spaceman on the page, with a giant head and baggy jumpsuit, and the host’s voiceover claims this is what abductees say the UFO occupants look like. Yeah. When they figure out how to tailor well-fitting spacesuits, then I’ll be scared.
We then fade to a publicity still, and it seems to be taken from this movie too, because it says “Overlords of the UFO” on the bottom. It’s a black and white photograph of a crude flying saucer. With absolutely no shame, hesitation, or basic human ability to sort fact from bullshit, the host pronounces, “This is the best UFO photograph in the world!” If that’s true, I weep for the state of UFO photography. He claims the military took the photo secretly, and then, amazingly, refuses to elaborate any further upon it.
He tells us that NASA has a policy on UFOs, and astronauts have seen UFOs, and the Air Force actually instructs its cadets that UFOs are real. Sorry, it instructs them on “the reality of the UFO”. Then he actually claims this documentary will have a “surprise ending” that will provide “the answers to this incredible, worldwide UFO mystery!” I’m sensing this “surprise ending” will make the ending of The Village look like a work of genius.
And in this ending, the host claims, we will learn “the origin of the alien intelligences [sic] who are the overlords of the UFO!” Sounds like a good deal to me. And since we’re at it, let’s also find out about the slumlords of the UFO, shall we? Or maybe we can also look into who are the lords of the dance of the UFO? What do you think? Anyway, you can hear this clip, too.