UFO’s It Has Begun (1981, but really 1974)

You have to hand it to the producers of this film. Based on the book UFOs: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Emenegger, it was originally released with that title in 1974, then re-released in 1976. And after Close Encounters of the Third Kind, they changed the title to UFO’s It Has Begun and put it back in theaters in 1979 and then again in 1981.

That’s ingenuity. Or grindhouse ingenuity, as it were.

Supposedly, at some point in 1971 Emenegger was asked by either the Republican Party, officials at California’s Norton Air Force Base or the Department of Defense itself to produce a film about UFOS using only official DoD and NASA source material. If he agreed, he was allegedly promised footage of a 1964 landing at Holloman Air Force Base (that footage is in this movie but the few seconds shown don’t prove anything).

The main reason I got into this was that Rod Serling hosts the film — from the grave, as he died in 1974, so as the film expanded for the 1979 re-release, they needed to add more actors to narrate — and starts it off just like The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, asking questions of our existence.

The rest of the movie features episodic stories of otherworldly events, such as a Lubbock, Texas event that is explained away as ball lightning, tales of ancient aliens punctuated by Burgess Meredith reading from the Bible, an appearance by Dr. Jacques Vallée, tales of how the Air Force, Pentagon and CIA got involved, animal mutilations and finally, a dramatization of alien visitors landing at Holloman Air Force Base and collaborating with the U.S. government.

Somehow, this movie was nominated for Best Documentary Film at the 33rd Golden Globe Awards. Other than the time Pia Zadora won the New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture Golden Globe, this would be the only time I ever cared about that show.

In a 2018 episode of Ancient Aliens,  Emenegger again told the story that the government promised to give him the Holloman footage, as well as the potentially apocryphal story that he handed Steven Spielberg a copy of the original UFOs: Past, Present, and Future film and that’s why the director made Close Encounters. You have to love when a huckster never stops being a huckster.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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