Alien Abduction in the Cinema

A History from the 1950s to Today


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About the Book

The alien abduction phenomenon is one of the enduring enigmas of our time. While the reality of alien abductions is a hotly debated topic among UFO researchers, scientists, skeptics and true believers alike, the phenomenon indisputably exists as an artifact of popular culture. This book analyzes more than 75 films that draw their inspiration from allegedly fact-based accounts of alien contact, from 1951’s The Man from Planet X to Contactee in 2021. These films are examined in terms of both their cinematic qualities and their exploration of thematic elements derived from abduction reports.
Abduction motifs that appear in science fiction classics such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001 and Close Encounters are analyzed, as well as those in lesser-known films like The Stranger Within, Starship Invasions, Dark Skies and Proximity. Special attention is given to movies based on the famed experiences of abductees Betty and Barney Hill, Whitley Strieber and Travis Walton. The book also addresses skeptical theories about the origins of the phenomenon in science fiction and examines an uncanny prescience that appears to anticipate these inexplicable occurrences.

About the Author(s)

Paul Meehan is the author of several books on science fiction, film noir and horror films, and a contributor to the Noir City Sentinel, the journal of the Film Noir Foundation and to The Palgrave Handbook of the Vampire. He lives in San Francisco.

Bibliographic Details

Paul Meehan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: 51 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8827-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4921-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: Birth of an Icon: Little Gray Men 3
One. Anatomy of a Phenomenon: The Abduction Enigma 13
Two. Invaders from Hollywood 1951–1958 29
Three. The British Invasion (and Others) of the 1960s 55
Four. Close Encounters of the 1970s 68
Five. The Reptilians 83
Six. Case Histories 95
Seven. Hybrids 116
Eight. Tales from the Darkside 131
Nine. The Terror That Comes in the Night 151
Ten. New Dimensions 170
Conclusion: “This means something!” 190
Filmography 203
Chapter Notes 207
Bibliography 209
Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Meehan’s research into the subjects of alien abduction and related cinema is fascinating”—Library Journal