Shortly after the launch of a satellite from a space shuttle the satellite collides with a UFO in front of the crew's eyes. Because of an election campaign some politicians try to hide the crashed UFO -- inside hangar 18.Written by
Kay Drangmeister <K.Drangmeister@insider.sub.de>
In the film's story the location of the top-secret "Hangar 18" was the Wolf Air Force Base in Texas, USA. See more »
To cover up the UFO landing, Cain and Lafferty decide to discredit Steve and Lew publicly, then just "keep an eye on them." They do not take Steve and Lew into custody, sequester them, or put any kind of pressure on them not to make waves, even after Steve and Lew indirectly cause the deaths of two government agents. This seems to be the worst possible way to cover up a story, as it all but guarantees the two heroes will make trouble. See more »
It is common to bash this 1980 sci-fi/conspiracy movie for its admittedly not-top-notch special effects and pretty much everything else; the limited budget has a lot to do with it. But with the exception of the 1978 film CAPRICORN ONE, nobody else was trying to mix the two elements (sci-fi and conspiracy) together for the big screen. In essence, HANGAR 18 can indeed be said to presage "The X Files" by a decade and a half.
The film begins with two astronauts (Collins, Hampton) encountering a UFO in orbit while launching a military satellite. The satellite collides with the UFO, causing an explosion and killing a third astronaut in the cargo bay who had been watching the satellite's progress. But the UFO makes a surprisingly controlled landing in the Arizona desert, thus necessitating its quick removal and forcing the president's chief of staff (Vaughn, an absolutely steely performance) to concoct a cover story to avoid serious damage to his boss's chances for re-election.
Naturally, both Collins and Hampton are fingered by Vaughn and his staff for blame in the incident. This forces them to gather hard evidence to clear themselves, but it also means that they'll be pursued by government agents the entire way. Meanwhile, at Hangar 18, located at an air force base in Texas, a team of scientists, led by McGavin, are learning everything they possibly can about the UFO and its alien occupants. What they find about those aliens is how uncannily similar they are to humans.
Despite the film's technical imperfections, HANGAR 18 is still a pretty good and speculative science fiction film from Sunn Pictures, the same Utah-based film company that was known for making speculative documentaries during the 70s and early 80s. McGavin is at his usual best, as he was in the 1972 TV film THE NIGHT STALKER. In terms of plot, HANGAR 18 seems to use Watergate as a starting point and then mixes in elements of Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. And although it is hardly on a level with those two great movies, it nevertheless works because of the approach it takes to the debate not only over UFOs in our present day but also the possibility that visitors from another world have visited Earth before.
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