My love affair with UFO movies began when I was nine years old and I saw the documentary “Chariots of the Gods” at the Dale Theater in the Bronx, NY. That film, which launched the wild speculation that ancient civilizations were heavily coached by extraterrestrial visitors in matters of scientific and architectural issues, offered theories that have long since been demolished (not unlike the poor old Dale Theater where the film played to packed houses). However, that flick set forth a happy skein of UFO documentaries that cluttered up cinemas and TV stations for most of the 1970s and into the early 1980s — all offering tantalizing notions of alien encounters without actually producing genuine evidence of the elusive beings from way out there.
“UFO File: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings” brings a new life to this old mini-genre by focusing on reported sightings of odd objects hovering around the Hudson Valley region about an hour north of New York City. Unlike the wonderfully cheesy UFO documentaries of previous decades, “UFO File: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings” is a genuinely intriguing and frequently disturbing study of the unexplained which offers a wealth of video evidence and a selection of distinguished experts who offer articulate and hysteria-free input. The result is an entertaining and informative production…something you rarely get in a UFO documentary!
Sightings of strange lights in the skies about the Hudson Valley region were first recorded in the colonial era and there is supposedly similar Native American folklore which goes back even further. But during the past two decades the reports have become more frequent and began receiving coverage from respectable newspapers (as opposed to the supermarket tabloids which long fueled the UFO fun). The ubiquity of camcorders helped capture long-unavailable evidence of something odd overhead, and “UFO File: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings” is rich with videos of abnormally bright lights flying through the night skies in a manner that conventional aircraft cannot duplicate.
In a truly riveting sequence, writer Philip Imbrogno recalls a 1984 encounter between the security staff of the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor in this region and an airborne vehicle which did not seem to be of this world. Since there is no available footage of this encounter, Imbrogno offers a bravura raconteur performance in relaying the events and the clumsy attempts to have the incident hushed up (including threatening phone calls to Imbrogno when he attempted to arrange clandestine interviews with military police who witnessed the happenings). Other talking head experts in the film include geologist Dr. Bruce Cornet and journalist Scott Carr, both of whom provide mature and fascinating commentary.
To its credit, the film entertains the nay-sayers point of view with complete fairness. Hoax footage and video coverage which can be easily explained are identified properly, and the film also discusses at length the presence of the US Air Force at nearby Stewart Airport and the possibility of their testing top-secret aircraft (some of the new planes have strange triangular shapes similar to the UFOs reported by startled bystanders). The film does have one mistake: a brief discussion of local people who claim to have been abducted frequently by aliens and subjected to bizarre medical procedures (known in the trade as close encounters of the fourth and fifth kind) is included, but this seems too sensationalist and out of place.
“UFO File: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings” provides a generous helping of food for thought on a subject which, if you pardon the pun, is truly out of this world.