162: Hollywood Prepares the Public for Contact (Part 2)

While Hollywood’s take on Alien contact in late 50s and early 60s was definitely negative, many of the films of that era foreshadowed elements of the UFO phenomenon years before they surfaced in the public consciousness. Perhaps the best example of this (at least as concerns Alien Abduction) is, Mars Needs Women, a low budget film released in 1961. Presented in a straight forward documentary style, it was surprisingly accrete in its treatment of Alien Abduction, four years before the case of Betty and Barney Hill was made public.

In the movie, the Air Force intercepts a message from the planet Mars and translates it to read, “Mars Needs Women.” At first it’s thought to be a joke, until women actually begin to show up missing. Martians appear at an airbase to tell the military (and the audience) that they need to take human females to help them reproduce, because Mars is a dying planet. The military accuse them of overt actions of abduction and war, for which the aliens apologize, but their need outweighs earthly concerns and they display their superiority, warning the Air Force not to interfere. The generals are left fuming and impotent. The press uncovers the story and the government lets them publish it. It’s interesting to note that in this movie the public reacts with calm and reasoned discussion of the issue, instead of with panic as depicted in other science fiction films of the period. The government uncovers a disturbing fact, though. The Martians are using hypnosis on the people they take to erase any memories of the experience. In the end, the military is able to drive the aliens from our planet and Earth’s women are safe once more.

For even the most casual student of the subject, Mars Needs Women appears to be a “textbook” summary of what we know about Alien Abduction. Mars is thought by many to have supported intelligent life in the past and that alien bases might still exist there. The red planet features prominently in speculations regarding the origins of the ETs. The sexual aspects of the phenomenon are also well known, and some Experiencers have reported being told that the aliens have lost their ability to reproduce and need our help to do so. This is exactly what the Martians told the Air Force in Mars Need Women, when they apologized for what they had to do despite the objections of Earth’s leaders. And, finally, during a time when the public regarded hypnosis only as a parlor game, the movie specifically describes it as the method the aliens use to hide their interactions with humans.

The latter half of the 1960s saw two noteworthy Science Fiction offerings. In 1966, a surprisingly intelligent space opera appeared on television. Star Trek (the original series) was considered something of a disappointment after only three seasons, but with 79 episodes in the can it was at least possible to syndicate the show, earning additional revenue and making a modest profit. In perpetual reruns, however, it became immensely popular and a cash cow was born for Paramount Studios. A decades long TV dynasty was born, with Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Starship Voyager, and finally, Enterprise.

The most notable feature of Star Trek was its optimism. The original series was begun just three years before Neil Armstrong guided “The Eagle” to a soft landing on the Moon. It presented a future for mankind where we live and work alongside other sentient creatures from “out there.”

In the original pilot episode, first rejected by the studio and then later salvaged as a series of flash-back scenes in a pair of back-to-back episodes collectively called, The Cage, the Captain is “abducted” by short frail beings with large heads, who can make him see anything they so choose. The Grays are, of course, short and frail in comparison to us and they also have large heads. Their ability to alter what we see and hear to create a false memory of what is actually happening is well documented. Yet this pilot episode was filmed a good year before the publication of The Interrupted Journey, which was the first widely publicized abduction case.

 Two years after the premiere of Star Trek, in 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s mind expanding, 2001, A Space Odyssey, was released in theaters. The story of Mankind’s quest to the planet Jupiter, and the transformation and rebirth that awaited there for the sole surviving astronaut was both ground-breaking in its cinematic scope and unsettling to many of its original audience, who just didn’t understand the ending, or what that monolith was all about (my father included). The suggestion of evolutionary manipulation by Higher Beings, (represented by the monolith) of an ape to produce ape-man who evolved into modern man (the astronaut) is probable very close to what really happened.

[To be continued.]

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