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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, July 28, 2023

The UFO Incident (1975)

More made for television fun with this based on “real events” NBC movie of the week. Back in the seventies everyone was all about Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, and yes Aliens! The UFO Incident is based on the story told by a married couple, Barney and Betty Hill. Apparently in the early sixties while returning from vacation they were abducted by some little grey aliens and poked/prodded before having their memories wiped out. Only that last bit didn’t take as they started having nightmares and health issues. They finally went to see a doctor who helped them recover their memories under hypnosis. 

Years later after Barney had passed away in the late sixties Betty became a regular in the UFO community. Again, there was such a thing because as I’ve already mentioned the seventies were all about spooky unknown stuff like this. Personally, I think that all the conspiracy stuff got so popular since a big portion of the public no longer trusted the government… I blame the Vietnam War and Watergate. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

What I’ve written above is honestly the whole story. There isn’t much else to talk about. The movie plays out in an interesting way though. All the various sessions both the interviews as well as them under hypnosis were recorded so the movie uses recreations of those to tell the story. This is accomplished with a combination of them sitting in a chair talking as well as some flashbacks. It makes for a rather slow and at times boring watch. The movie teases the audience by bringing you right to something happening only to cut away to them having an argument or the doctor hypothesizing about what might be going on. When we finally get to the abduction it is brief and while staged well for the time and budget hasn’t held up well. 

There is even a bit of social commentary due to the fact that they were an interracial couple, Barney was African American and Estelle was white. This took place in the sixties so that was a very controversial thing at the time and the stress of it on Barney was used as an excuse for him maybe hallucinating the abduction. It gets weird when they try to explain things. This as well as them being overly tired are given as plausible explanations in what I expect the filmmakers trying to be fair and give alternate possibilities other than just aliens. But the movie is already slow and muddled and honestly the audience doesn’t need more to slow things down and muddy the water. 

While the writing left me underwhelmed, I loved the performances from James Earl Jones as Barney and Estelle Parsons as Betty. Especially so since most of their most dramatic and emotional scenes are them sitting in a chair recalling horrible memories. They have to make it both engaging and believable on their own and don’t even have many chances to play off each other. The acting from the pair is the best part of the movie. When they are on the screen together they play the loving couple with chemistry that makes it feel like love each other and that translates into us being invested in them as characters. It really does suck that the writing doesn’t do much to support this excellent cast. 

I wonder if I had seen this when I was younger and still a believer in all this cryptid, mysterious disappearances, and alien stuff if The UFO Incident would have played differently for me. As a child of the seventies I grew up on these stories and the documentaries so maybe. That said this movie seems to lack the charm and fun of something like The Mysterious Monsters or The Bermuda Triangle so perhaps not. Regardless I can’t recommend this one though if it does interest you there is a copy floating around YouTube as of the writing of this review so you can check it out for free. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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