After reviewing the made-in-Georgia Kubrick-Spielberg amalgamate that is UFO: Target Earth (1974), my mind — thanks to their somewhat similar titles (all of these ’70 UFO doc-titles are interchangeable, anyway) — drifted back to this documentary by Canadian filmmaker Ed Hunt.
Ed Hunt is a guy that carries a lot of respect around the B&S About Movies cubicles. He made eleven films, ten which he wrote. As most writer-directors starting out (Howard Avedis, Norman J. Warren), Ed Hunt made softcore skinflicks, three, in fact: The Freudian Thing, Corrupted, and Diary of a Sinner between 1969 and 1974.
Sam, the bossman who guides the U.S.S B&S About Movies down the Allegheny confluence, always errs to the side of Ed’s John Carpenterian take on the ’60s crazy-kid romp The Bad Seed by the way of Bloody Birthday (1981). For yours truly, always Ed’s the much-ran USA Network ditty, The Brain (1988), hits my VHS-spot. The twain between Sam and myself then meets with Ed’s utterly bonkers contribution to the Star Wars cycle of films with Starship Invasions (1977) — its tale of an intergalactic “League of Races” secluded in an underwater pyramid lorded by Christopher Lee’s Captain Rameses, adorned in a one-piece, black Gumby suit.
Oh, but Ed Hunt’s love of UFOs and extraterrestrials dates to his first film proper, his fourth film that broke away from his softcore skinners.
The impossible-to-find-on-VHS Point of No Return (1976), which served as the warm-up for Starship Invasions, was also cobbled from “actual UFO accounts.” That pre-Lucasian sci-fi thriller concerns an investigator looking into a series of violent deaths, via suicide and murder, which are “somehow” connected to UFOs and nuclear research — a plot device also repurposed in Starship Invasions.
So, with that bit of Lucasian-Spielbergian-inspired hokum of alien-induced suicides and underwater Egyptians out of the way — and after polishing off a paranoia-world plague piece known as Plague (1979) — it was time for Ed to get serious about his obsession with UFOs and aliens.
Sure, for the many exposed to these same teachings by Giorgio A. Tsoukalos of the long-running Ancient Aliens series on The History Channel or A&E’s Mysteries of the Bible, you’ve heard all of this bibilical-aliens stuff before. However, back in the ’70s, with only three major networks and a smattering of local UHF channels to choose from, the only way you got your documentary download on aliens, the world’s and the universe’s unknowns, was to hit a local drive-in or twin-plex to watch theatrical documentaries.
If you need more UFO documentaries/reenactments — but, be warned, these are pretty dry and overly-repetitive cheapjack cash-ins — there’s the ex-“Midnight Movie” romps UFOs: Past, Present, and Future (1974; You Tube), Overlords of the UFO (1976; You Tube), UFO: Top Secret (1978; You Tube), the most psychedelic-tripping of them all: UFO – Exclusive (1979; You Tube), and the forever-lost UFOs: Are We Alone? (1979).
Oh, yes, it was the height of Star Wars-mania.
So, if distributors weren’t repackaging their pre-Lucasian wares produced in a post-Erich von Däniken/Stanley Kubrick world, they made “new” flicks, which, of course, stock-raided their own films for footage. We, the wee-lads of the ’70s, went to see all of these — and Ed Hunt’s UFO’s Are Real — as “Midnight Movies.” Of course, we had weed, fifths of liquor, and radio station swag as incentive to ease us through them.
Yep. Radio stations sponsored “Midnight Movies” back in the day. I, myself, won a pair of tickets to see Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash from a radio station giveaway.
But I digress, again.
The plots of all of these UFOuments are are pretty much the same, with the tale of the world’s most famous abductees of the ’60s, Barney and Betty Hill, the Bermuda Triangle, the missing five Avenger planes of Flight 19 from 1945, the Rosewell crash, Bigfoot tie-ins, and submarine technology based on UFOs, documented, ad nauseam. (The Hills had their own movie proper with 1975’s The UFO Incident; starring James Earl Jones as Barney Hill.)
Where Ed Hunt’s document detracts in quality from all of the low-budget knockoffs of the more-skilled Sunn Classics progenitors — which that studio made in the backwash of their own box-office bonanza with 1970’s Chariots of the Gods? — is that Hunt either filmed or secured fresh material. So we hear from never-before-interviewed air force pilots, army officers, eyewitnesses, as well as from the film’s narrator-producer Brandon Chase’s colleges Ted Phillips and Bruce Maccabee, as well as Wendelle Stevens, Marjorie Fish, and Stanton Friedman (who also contributed as a co-screenwriter to Ed Hunt). Now, those names mean nothing today, but back in the ’70s, these “saucerians” were always popping up on TV anytime the subject of aliens and UFOs needed discussing.
The real highlight — which ties back to Hunt’s Gumby-nauts from the Constellation Orion in Starship Invasions — is the appearance of Billy Meier; the infamous Swiss farmer speaks at length with his ongoing, since childhood friendship with the Pleiadians*, itself an oft-read tale among UFOlogists that fueled Georgian filmmaker Micheal De Gaetano developing the lead character in his film, UFO: Target Earth.
While Ed Hunt obviously created this fact-based passion project to prove UFOs are, in fact, real, on a shoestring, it’s still the best of the low-budget alien documentaries of that bygone era when man was desperate for answers as to our part and place in the universe of our post-Lucasian world.
* Learn more about them with the book Bringers of the Dawn: Teachings from the Pleiadians (1992) and this “Nordic Aliens” entry on Wikipedia.