The Wild World of Video: Overlords of the UFO

The Project X over at the Future Threat Studios is heating up again, and that means I’ve had to postpone a full and special post for you all today.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t have a little something, though, and that brings once again to the strange corridors of the paranormal. Cue that “X-Files” theme if you have it handy.

As many of you know, I’ve been on an “Ancient Aliens” kick of late. I find the need to make the world more magical quite fascinating and the sort of viewpoints espoused by the Ancient Astronaut community are worth closer examination. I’ll get to that in a subsequent post, but in the meantime, I want to focus on a old, but brilliantly insane documentary that illustrates just what passionate folk permeate the field of paranormal research.

Yes, I’m feeling generous today, so we’ll call it a legitimate line of inquiry.

Overlords of the UFO is a 1976 documentary that used to play on TNT every few months. No doubt inspired by similar films like Chariots of the Gods, the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and maybe even the pilot movie of “Battlestar Galactica”, Overlords is the summation of Oregon newsman W. Gordon Allen’s investigation into the UFO phenomenon. His thesis: the UFO (almost always singular) is controlled by a mysterious group of Overlords from another dimension. Their identities have been withheld from the public and even researchers on the ground at the time have failed to ask this simple question: “Who are the overlords of the UFO?”

Bands had some shitty album art in the 70s.

Using some poorly draw illustrations, Allen reviews the famous alien encounter stories up to that date. One of the fascinating things about the film is just how much it tries to conduct itself like a TV news-magazine feature, but cocks it up thanks to poor planning. The most egregious example is the second credit sequence in the middle of the film. It announces a thirty minute diversion from Overlords entitled Space Voyage from Ummo. The Ummo were, apparently, alien visitors encountered by European researchers in the late 1950s. This section of the film animates supposed transcripts from interviews with the Ummo about their journey to the Earth. You’ll notice I’m pretty skeptical about this whole Ummo thing and might be wondering why I can’t have more of an open mind about extraterrestrial visitors.

Turns out the Ummo encounter was a fraud.

Space Voyage From Ummo ends elliptically and abruptly all at once. I know, that seems hard to believe, but it is 100% verifiable fact (unlike the Ummo.) Returning to the train of thought that began Overlords, the film continues for another twenty minutes or so and reveals one fascinating aspect of the late 1970s.

People were freaked out.

Still recovering from the previous decade, the ’70s contained a lot of unresolved fear and tension. You see it crime movies from the time and the ongoing worries about cults, revolutions and the like. It spawned movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry. I think it also fueled the nascent fire of what we now call UFOlogy. The mystery lights in the skies offer a perfect boogey-man for a society hopped up on an unidentifiable unrest.

And to see just how panicked one local newsman was, check out Overlord of the UFO:

About Erik

Erik Amaya is the host of Tread Perilously and the former Head Film/TV writer at Bleeding Cool. He has also contributed to sites like CBR, Comics Alliance and Fanbase Press. He is also the voice of Puppet Tommy on "The Room Responds."
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