Andy Young from Enemy Within interviews Alyson Dunlop (ADX-Files, EDX-Files, and SPI Scotland).
Alyson is a UFO/paranormal investigator, hypnotherapist, writer, and experiencer.
Absolutely fantastic interview with distinguished Scottish ufologist and author, Ron Halliday, on what’s going on in Scotland! We talk about the many sightings and where they’ve occurred, including a couple of abduction cases. Listen to it now via the following link: https://www.mixcloud.com/edradio/the-edx-files-show-7/
I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to chat with my guest Peter Robbins on this month’s EDX-Files about the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident of 1980. We discuss the event and the effect it has had on witnesses such as Larry Warren, the whistle-blower and co-author, with Peter, of “Left at East Gate”. We also discuss the continuing controversy involving Nick Pope, as well as the slanderous allegations of Charles Halt. Please share, and remember to click the heart to follow and show some love! Enjoy, Earthlings!
The Xmas Special of EDX-Files with guest, author and investigator, Malcolm Robinson (founder of SPI). We talk about his new book on the Loch Ness Monster, as well as ghosts, poltergeists, UFOs and alien abduction incidents in Scotland.
The oldest question of all time: are we alone? Contact starts off by revealing how incredibly vast space is. Visually the opening scene is designed to bring home the message which is also the tag-line of the film: “If we are alone in the Universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space.” Indeed.
This film is an adaptation of the book by Carl Sagan (1934-1996), astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. Sagan is best known for his scientific contributions to the search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI). He is the man who put together the first ever message sent into space which might be understood by E.T. intelligence. In fact, Sagan firmly believed that scientists should study the UFO/alien abduction phenomenon, even though he rejected E.T. involvement.
Sagan, as a scientist, also had an incredibly intelligent opinion on the question of God:
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual
It is this balanced view that comes across most strongly in the movie as scientist, atheist and SETI researcher, Dr Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) is put through her paces. The film follows her personal and professional journey of discovery, as well as her struggle against the politics surrounding it. She is faced with being overlooked, not because she is a woman – there was no particular feminist agenda – but because she is a scientist. Once the politicians get involved they have their own agenda, which in this case is power.
There are three themes in Contact: spirituality, politics and science. Visually and symbolically the only way to reach E.T. is to put three pages of alien gibberish together in order to make contact. Once this is achieved the breakthrough happens and the key to interpreting the alien language is revealed. I feel Sagan was far too clever for this to be a coincidence and, given his beliefs, his story holds its own hidden language: if we can unite spirituality, politics and science we might have a chance of discovering some great and wonderful things that none of them can do alone.
The climax of the film is the exciting visuals of space travel and wonderful alien landscapes which the heroine, Dr Arroway, finally succeeds in realising. In some respects, I would have loved for the film to end at this point. It’s not often a film blows me away and moves me to tears, but I could actually sense how incredibly awestruck the experience was and Foster conveys this emotion beautifully.
However, there is a very good reason the film has to continue beyond this as Dr Arroway is forced to re-evaluate her closed atheist mindset and accept that some things simply cannot be proven through science alone, but must be experienced. Ultimately, then, the film concludes with a step forward for the representatives of science, faith and politics as each in their own way is forced to concede that they do not have all the answers. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Alien, Aliens, Betty and Barney Hill, Close Encounters, Demons, E.T., Extra-Terrestrial, faery, fairy, Fire in the Sky, folk tales, George Adamski, gods, Independence Day, John Carpenter, mythology, Orson Welles, PTSD, Quatermass and the Pit, Roswell, sleep paralysis, Terence McKenna, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Fourth Kind, The Invasion, The Thing, Travis Walton, UFO, Vilas-Boas, War of the Worlds
In the mid-1990s, I developed an interest in the UFO and alien abduction phenomenon. I set about becoming a somewhat sceptical UFO investigator. Most of my findings led me to meteorological, astronomical or military activity as conclusions for sightings. One rainy night I got on the train to Stirling. It took about forty five minutes from Glasgow. There was a meeting of the group Strange Phenomena Investigations, in the back room of a local pub. I expected to encounter one or two strange individuals. In fact, they were all just ordinary everyday people, but interested enthusiasts of the subject. They were as keen to know what it was all about, as much as I was. I decided to listen without judgement, lest it cloud my view of what was occurring with these people. Malcolm Robinson, the founder of SPI, was there and introduced me to the group. At one point in the evening, someone began speaking about how aliens were our friends and were not here to harm us. Almost immediately another participant forcefully exploded: “How can you say that?” he cried. “You don’t know that! I have no idea what they are or what they want, but I can tell you one thing…they are not our friends!” I swallowed hard. I could tell by the look on this man’s face that he was completely serious. He said that since his encounter he and his friend, Colin, had problems with friends, family and colleagues who didn’t believe their story and his friend had not been back to work since the incident. I realised I was listening to Garry Wood speaking. He and his friend Colin Wright had reported experiencing an alien abduction on the A70, an incident which was investigated by the Ministry of Defence. They had about ninety minutes of missing time. Now, I have no idea what happened that night, but there is one thing I am completely sure of, Garry Wood certainly believed it had happened. The look on his face was that of a man disturbed, terrified and angered by the experience. You can read the full story of Garry Wood and Colin Wright here.
It’s one of the Big Questions, alongside “Why are we here?” and “Is there a God?” Another thing we are all really curious about is: Are we alone in this universe? Or, is there a remote possibility that somewhere, out there, there is another form of life. If there is, what could it possibly look like? If we were ever to encounter it, how would it behave towards us?
This is the 66th anniversary of the “Roswell Incident”. In July 1947, in Roswell, New Mexico, debris was recovered. Authorities claimed it was a top secret surveillance balloon, but conspiracy theorists have always believed the US military recovered an alien spaceship that day.
In 1995, Ray Santilli claimed to have footage of an alien autopsy being performed on one of the Roswell aliens recovered from the crash. Two years later the US Air Force released a report which said the alien bodies witnesses reported seeing were, in fact, test dummies. In 2006, Santilli admitted the autopsy film was not genuine. However, he insisted it was based on real life events. Nevertheless, there has never been any substantial proof that aliens crashed to Earth in 1947.
There were certainly alien stories prior to the Roswell incident. Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds, a novel by H G Wells, sent many Americans into a state of mass hysteria, thinking that Marsians had invaded. Science-fiction was developing as a popular genre and many scientific discoveries were being made about space. The format of War of the World was news bulletins. With an audience already primed for war, all these things contributed to sending the public into a frenzy.
Tune into the original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds.
Nevertheless, after the Roswell incident, the public imagination about aliens and UFOs went wild. It was round about this time that George Adamski was taking photos of flying saucers. The 1950s then saw a huge increase in sci-fi and alien movies. One of my favourites, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), gives the message that the people of Earth must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. The following year Adamski claimed to have met Venusian alien, Orthon, who warned him of the dangers of nuclear war. There are, of course, many criticisms of Adamski and many holes in his stories, which you can read for yourself here.
In 1957, Antônio Vilas-Boas, a Brazilian farmer claimed to have been abducted by aliens. There are other similar abduction stories, but his is the first to receive proper attention. The incident occurred when Boas was only 23 years old, working at night to avoid the hot temperatures during the day. As he was ploughing a field, near São Francisco de Sales, he was approached by what he described as a red star, which as it got closer, became recognisable as a space craft. The full story can be read here.
In 1961, widespread publicity was generated by Betty and Barney Hill, who also claimed to have been abducted by aliens in New Hampshire. The University of New Hampshire have custody of a permanent collection of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items. In 2011, a state historical marker was placed at the site of the alleged encounter. Betty and Barney Hill’s story can be read in full here.
The Hill’s story is highly intriguing, yet many motifs and themes are similar to that of science-fiction being aired at that time. It is thought that these images, coupled with sleep deprivation and false memories recovered during hypnosis, were all part and parcel of the overall experience.
As a hypnotherapist myself, I can say that nowadays regression would never be used to recover memories. The likelihood of false memory syndrome would be a huge factor in discrediting the entire encounter. Any information Betty and Barney Hill gave under hypnosis should be dismissed entirely.
A few years later, attention turned to what our relationship to aliens might be. Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is an extraordinary concept of the imagination. It is a fantastic story, surrounding the discovery of an ancient Martian spacecraft in the London Underground, and the realisation that aliens have influenced human evolution and intelligence since the beginning. The spacecraft seems to stir up memories of the aliens which remain deep in the human psyche. Professor Quatermass is convinced that all our beliefs and fears of devils and such like are, in fact, tied up with these memories of our encounters with the Martians.
The term “close encounter” was coined in 1972 by Josef Allen Hynek (1910-1986) in his book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry. Hynek proposed there were three types of close encounter:
Close Encounters of the First Kind are sightings of one or more UFOs at a distance of 500 feet or less.
Close Encounters of the Second Kind are sightings of a UFO which were accompanied by physical effects such as heat, electrical interference etc.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind involve the sighting of an animated being (presumably alien but not specifically defined as such).
Other categories have since developed, including having contact, being abducted, those involving death, those involving hybrid creations and sexual encounters. There are also sub-categories to the Third Kind according to whether the perceived alien is inside or outside their UFO, there are any other witnesses, the alien is injured or captured etc. All categories can be read here.
Following this initial categorisation by Hynek, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) explored the phenomenon. It turned out the aliens were quite nice really, and usually returned abducted children happy and uninjured. I jest. It’s actually another of my favourite films, quite unnerving in parts, but ultimately a “feel good” ending. Spielberg carried on with his view of the alien as the good guy with E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in 1982, which had everyone in love, and saying a tearful goodbye to their favourite alien, by the end of the movie.
The same year, Bill Lancaster (son of Burt) wrote the screenplay for The Thing (directed by John Carpenter), which assured us that we were in mortal peril from E.T. Here the alien is a parasite which assimilates other lifeforms and imitates them. Who can you trust? That is the Big Question this time. Someone might look like your friend, or your pet husky, but are they in fact an alien in disguise…?
By 1993, we were sticking with the alien as foe. Fire in the Sky is possibly one of the creepiest and most unnerving alien abduction stories, not least of all because it’s based on the events depicted by Travis Walton who claimed to have had a real life encounter. What actually happened that night is largely undetermined and many still believe it was one big hoax. The film is certainly an exaggeration of Walton’s own account from his book The Walton Experience.
On the evening of 5th November 1975, logger Travis Walton and his co-workers, on their way home, encounter a UFO. Travis gets out the car, is hit by a beam of light, the others take off in their car. One of them, Mike Rogers, returns to the scene later but Travis is nowhere to be found. Initially the incident is investigated as a murder enquiry. The boys take a lie-detector test, which is inconclusive and five days later Travis turns up disorientated and hysterical at a gas station. Travis initially fails his first polygraph, which is claimed to have used out-dated methods. Two subsequent ones revealed him to be telling the truth. The entire story can be read here.
Various invasion films have been made over the last ten years or so: Independence Day (1996), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007). Then in 2009, The Fourth Kind came to cinemas. It is a mockumentary science-fiction thriller based on disappearances in Alaska. It’s a fairly good film, though not an exceptionally good advert for hypnosis (once again!), and its supposed realistic background gives the viewer plenty to think about. Similar to Quatermass, the alien life-forms are tied to an ancient civilisation. This time the Sumerians. They are bound up once more in our beliefs of supernatural beings, including God.
We do indeed live in a strange world, full of seemingly inexplicable occurrences. It would do a great injustice to both science and victims if I were to simply cast aside all accounts of alien abduction as mere hallucinations. However, the truth is often stranger than fiction and every bit as intriguing. Similar supernatural experiences have happened since practically the dawn of time and they all bear remarkable similarities to one another. Supernatural kidnappings, abductions and attacks have been reported going right back into ancient times, passed down through folklore. Faery kidnappings and alien abductions contain some terrifying parallels. Even ancient Gods, in mythology, were known to kidnap mortals. Noise of some sort often accompanies such abductions. In faery lore it might be music, in alien accounts it’s usually humming or buzzing sounds.
As someone who has experienced a very realistic encounter of a supernatural entity, during what is termed by psychologists to be sleep paralysis (with hallucination), I know what it feels like. I know, too, that most experiences happen during the sleeping state, and have been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My experiences most often happen during stressful times. These “visitors” most often terrify us at night, be they incubus/succubus demons, fairies or aliens, and there is often a sexual element to them. There is also an association with missing time, which is reported not just in the Hills or Walton cases, but also in ancient folklore. For example, there is a Welsh folk tale of Rhys and Llewellyn who heard music when they were walking home one night. Rhys follows the music, whilst Llewellyn goes home. Months pass without Rhys being seen, until finally Llewellyn goes to the spot where they heard the music and finds Rhys dancing in a faery ring claiming to only have been there for five minutes (1). It’s also common for those who have experienced the abduction phenomenon to have marks on their bodies: faery bruising, witches marks placed by the Devil and alien needle marks, all seem to be very similar occurrences. What they actually are, is very difficult to say.
In fact, could all of these experiences be entirely natural phenomena, triggered by stress? Does stress release certain chemicals in the brain which interferes with normal functioning, causing people to experience supernatural encounters? (Stress and sleep deprivation both trigger off my own sleep paralysis, but thankfully I’m quite big on relaxation, yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis these days!). Or do we, somewhere in our psyches, have the key to communicate with other realms, as Terence McKenna has suggested, linking the ingestion of certain kinds of hallucinogenic mushrooms to the ability to see other realms which are always there anyway. Perhaps polar magnetism makes a difference – as areas in the north, such as Iceland and Scandinavian countries, seem to find the existence of faery and troll entities a completely normal part of life. Are alien encounters a more scientific equivalent, more prevalent in other parts of the world?
I leave you with this, and the thought that in the scale of the universe Earth really is very tiny indeed. In that vastness we called “space” can we really possibly be the only significant life forms….?
I’d love to hear from you if you have ever experienced any supernatural encounter…of any kind! Please leave comments below!
Your friend, A.D.
(1) Boston, James R. (1881) Wirt, Sikes, British goblins: Welsh folk lore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions, Osgood & Company, p 70-71.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Aliens, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Black Christmas, crime, Doctor Loomis, drugs, Ellen Ripley, feminism, feminist, Final Girl, Freddy Krueger, Ghostface, Halloween, Hannibal Lecter, Horror, intelligence, Jason Voorhees, killer, knives, Laurie Strode, Leatherface, Lila, Mad, Mad Man, Madness, Michael Myers, misogynist, Nancy, Norman Bates, psychiatric illness, Psycho, Psychological, resourceful, Sam Loomis, Scream, Sex, Sidney, Sigourney Weaver, Silence of the Lambs, slasher, stabbing, strength, strong women, thriller, twists, victims, virgin, weapons
Slasher movies are a favourite with horror fans. Even if you’re not an outright horror fan, it’s likely you will have seen at least one of these in your life! The slasher has elements of thriller and crime, so can be appealing to audiences who also enjoy these genres too. In turn, some thrillers and other horrors, which are not really slashers as such, may have elements of the slasher in them.
What you may or may not realise is that there is a set of rules that come along with slasher and slasher-type horror films. During my post graduate in film and television, I had fun studying the “Final Girl” in horror. The Final Girl is a strong, independent female protagonist, the peer of the victims, but seen to be virtuous. She does not indulge in the sex and drugs that prove to be the downfall of the others. She also tends to avoid any kind of bullying. She’s just an all-round nice girl, sometimes slightly “put upon” by others who take advantage of her good nature. She is known as the Final Girl because, well, she’s the last one standing at the end of it all. The Final Girl either escapes or overcomes the threat, showing her power, strength and intelligence for whatever scrape she’s managed to land herself in.
Final Girls share many characteristics: they are often sexually unavailable or virgins who avoid any illegal or illicit activity and often, though not always, have a non-gender specific name such as Laurie (Halloween) or Sidney (Scream). The Final Girl can even be found in non-slasher horrors such as Alien, with the masculinised female character of Ellen Ripley (known only as Ripley); although, it has to be said that Alien does have many other characteristics of a slasher too.
The Final Girl is “watchful, intelligent and resourceful”. She is, pretty much, the perfect horror movie heroine. She is a character the audience can admire and she is a survivor. Many critics of the slasher might say that it is a misogynistic genre, as it often has naked and vulnerable women being overpowered by men. However, the Final Girl proves this not to be the case at all, quite the opposite. The Final Girl is a very smart and dignified character, who usually always outwits the killer in the end.
However, the character of the Final Girl has evolved over time. In Halloween Laurie’s ability was to simply remain alive until Doctor Loomis got there to save her. By the time A Nightmare on Elm Street came along the Final Girl was starting to take steps to protect herself, and defeat the threat. In the latter, Nancy is ready to take on Freddy!
Not only do Final Girls take on the killer, they also often protect young children too, showing their maternal side into the bargain. Just as there are monstrous maternal figures to be found in horror, the Final Girl is the complete opposite. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) in Halloween has two young children in her care that she is babysitting for, whilst Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens protects Newt with the famous line: “Get away from her, you bitch!”
As time has gone by, various differences have crept into the genre to allow it to evolve, and also to create unexpected twists at the end. The first slashers had the Final Girl discover and help to capture the killer (Psycho), escape the killer until another day (Black Christmas), and finally, killing the killer, after the killer had killed all her peers, so that the Final Girl is also the Final Killer; this has further evolved so that some Final Girls turn out to have been the killer all along, although this is a little bit more unusual.
In slasher horror, usually the weapon used by the killer is a blade of some kind, hence the term ‘slasher’. It could also be argued that in, for example, Halloween, Laurie attacks Michael Myers with weapons that are phallic: a knitting needle; a coat hanger, which she fashions into a spiked object, and a knife – all intended for stabbing. In the final sequence, Laurie takes over the dominant role using very masculine weaponry.
Probably the first Final Girl appeared in Psycho (1960), in the form of Marion’s sister Lila. Lila appears with Marion’s boyfriend Sam Loomis (in Halloween a character bearing that name would also step in to save the day, as has previously been mentioned…!). Along with other conventions that were built up over time, Psycho also saw the appearance of the human monster in the shape of the serial killer. The serial killer is necessarily dangerous and frightening, an almost supernatural killing machine, usually with a severe psychiatric illness and a grudge to bear, often caused by a traumatised childhood. The Final Girl is confronted with her every nightmare in the flesh: Norman Bates, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees (well, actually, his mother…but his legend lives on regardless!), Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Ghostface, Hannibal Lecter. Sometimes they have a supernatural side, like Michael Myers. Most often they are the scariest thing of all, real-life people! But, always, always, always, they are not just bad, they are completely and utterly insane. The Final Girl has her work cut out for her, but through it all she prevails.
Every horror fan has got their favourite Final Girl/Psychotic Maniac movies, whether slasher or not. Here are some recommendations. I don’t suppose they are really in any particular order. Silence of the Lambs and Psycho, though not slashers, have my favourite psychotic serial killer characters, whilst Alien has my favourite Final Girl – a good, strong performance from Sigourney Weaver. Black Christmas is actually, to my mind, probably one of the best and earliest of the genre. I really have no idea why I love Halloween so much. I just do. I think it’s the atmosphere, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Nevertheless, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it – at least once a year at, yes you’ve guessed, Hallowe’en! And I just loved the twist in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.
I’ve actually written my own slasher horror movie script! If any budding film directors or production companies wish to get in touch, I’d be delighted to hear from you!
I’d also love to know about readers’ favourite slashers, psychological horrors, Final Girls and serial killing maniacs. Do feel free to post comments!
Until next week. Don’t go anywhere…I’ll be right back! Your friend, A.D.
Muir, J K (2007) A History of the Dead Teenager Decade in Horror Films of the 1980s McFarland & Co: USA (Chapter 2).