High Strangeness: It Started With an Accident in Space...

Monday, February 4, 2013

It Started With an Accident in Space...

How many great movies start from that tag line? Only one that I know of: the 1980 science-fiction conspiracy thriller "Hangar 18."

I was recently turned on to this flick by the charming blog "Silver Screen Saucers," a nifty little site that combines two of my three great loves: movies and flying saucers. So I visit "SSS" and the first thing I see is an article about how "Hangar 18" was some sort of propaganda film backed by the CIA, the Mormon Church, the Vatican and the Schick Razor Company. Which could explain why it's such a crap movie. When's the last time a shaving appliance company produced a movie that was any good? You have to go all the way back to Norelco's big-budget production of "King Lear," or maybe the Bic classic "How Smooth Was My Chin."

But I digress. "Hangar 18" is a very silly and mostly inept attempt to mash up UFO lore about Area 51, the Roswell UFO crash, government cover-ups and Erich von Daniken's 1970's best seller "Chariots of the Gods," throw in some appealing TV stars such as Darren McGavin and Robert Vaughn, and come up with a suspenseful thriller that isn't afraid to tackle serious questions about the origins of life on earth.

How dumb is it? Well, pretty dumb. For instance, when the heroic NASA astronaut's friend gets killed by CIA agents on a dirt road, he asks an anonymous bystander to "take care of" his buddy's dead body, then steals the bystander's car. Also, Darren McGavin's clothes keep inexplicably changing from scene to scene -- one minute he's wearing a dress shirt with the collar open and a loosened necktie, the next he's wearing a sport coat and a turtleneck, the next he's back to the open dress shirt and loosened tie, then, in the very next scene -- boom -- turtleneck! It happened so many times I lost count! All they had to do was film one quick scene with McGavin saying, "I think I'll change into my turtleneck now," and another with him saying, "You know, I'm kind of in a necktie mood again," and they could have covered it. Amateurs.

Dumber still, the captured UFO being held inside Hangar 18 looks like -- and here's the Schick company's contribution, I think -- a massive vacuum-molded package for disposable razors. Seriously, my tool shed would make a more convincing UFO...

This is the terrifying secret inside... Hangar 18.
Also the coverup and conspiracy are mind-bogglingly dumb. The government has to keep the captured UFO secret for two weeks, because if the public found out they would be mad and the president would lose the upcoming election. Or something. Frankly, I didn't care, because I couldn't get past that stupid UFO. Or that turtleneck. Or that stupid astronaut stealing that innocent bystander's car. That sucked.

I'll tell you what interests me, though: the fact that the Schick Razor company started a film studio that churned out wholesome G-rated filler like "In Search of Historic Jesus," "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams," and the "Greatest Heroes of the Bible" series, and then made "Hangar 18," which has gun play, some fiery crashes, a naughty word, and not a single reference to the Bible or Jesus.

If you ask me, this movie has the CIA's fingerprints all over it. And the Mormons', and the Vatican's. Also, I can't be sure, but I suspect that the gaffer's assistant was a member of the Illuminati. But here's the biggest mystery of all: the Vatican goes all ape-shit trying to keep movies like "The DaVinci Code" and "The Last Temptation of Christ" out of theaters, but when they get a chance to make a movie of their own, they give us "Hangar 18"...

Uh... Pope?
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