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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


If you're like me, you've always been open to the possibility of aliens visiting our planet and perhaps even borrowing a few of its inhabitants now and then for a little research and/or experimentation.  Or whatever the heck their purposes may be.

Filmmakers Jeff and Jess Finn's documentary STRANGE SEPTEMBERS: THE HILL ABDUCTION & THE EXETER ENCOUNTER is definitely open to the possibility, enough to give us a close encounter with two of the most famous cases in the annals of UFO history and do so with the clear implication that they're both pretty much bonafide.

The first case covered, "The Exeter Encounter", tells of a New Hampshire man named Norman Muscarello who, in September of 1965, reportedly witnessed a large unknown craft hovering and maneuvering strangely over the treetops as he walked home down a secluded road.

Muscarello's sighting received crucial corroboration when two policemen also reported seeing the same thing, along with various other witnesses.  (Some last-minute information, referenced in the film's afterword but unconfirmed, suggests that there might've also been "missing time" and an actual alien encounter.)

The film offers first and second hand testimony from a number of people including area residents and relatives, former Air Force officials, and members of such UFO research groups as MUFON and NICAP.  Much of it is pure speculation and conjecture, but of interest to anyone who follows such things.

Such familiar names in UFO circles as Major Donald Keyhoe, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and UFO experts Stanton Friedman and Raymond Fowler are mentioned here and there, with Keyhoe emerging as a threatening figure as he reportedly orders Muscarello to "shut up" about the incident or else.

The actual firsthand accounts are, of course, the most compelling, which is why this segment of STRANGE SEPTEMBERS is at its best when offering footage of Norman Muscarello and Officer Eugene Bertram, an Air Force vet, who talk of what they witnessed that day.

It's also what helps to make the film's next segment most fascinating of all when the Holy Grail of abduction cases, that of Betty and Barney Hill in September 1961, is presented with recordings of the original hypnosis sessions of the two after they'd gone to a hypnotherapist for help.

What caused their extreme nightmares and health problems was a terrifying encounter with what they claim were a group of aliens who followed their car for several miles one night before blocking the road and forcing them into their large metallic craft to be examined. 

It's up to the viewer to decide the story's veracity, but one can't help but be affected by Barney Hill's cries of terror while reliving the event under hypnosis. ("God, I'm scared," he laments at one point.)

The descriptions by him and his wife Betty of their experiences are of great interest to UFO enthusiasts, as is the fact that Betty's later rendering of a star map she was supposedly shown during the encounter is believed to be a perfect match for the Zeta Reticuli star system.

Later physical evidence described includes a ring of warts around Barney's genital area, where he says the aliens had placed a strange circular device, and a number of odd marks on their car which caused a compass' needle to spin. 

Adding their thoughts on the case are venerable actors James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader in the STAR WARS films) and Estelle Parsons, who not only knew the Hills but portrayed them in the 1975 TV-movie "The UFO Incident." Giving the documentary additional gravitas is the familiar voice of Peter Weller (ROBOCOP, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) performing the narration.

While interesting for the most part, STRANGE SEPTEMBERS is of main interest to those not all that familiar with these and similar cases.  Long-time UFO enthusiasts will find much of this information old news although it's always worth hearing again if presented well.

This documentary does so, except for the times when we hear information and speculation that's been hashed over at length over the years.  One also can't get too excited by hearing some local citizen in a gimme cap philosophizing about the universe and our place in it, or some twitchy UFO fanatic relaying the usual biased talking points.

Technically, the film is adequately produced with illustrative graphics, animations, and photo montages to keep things visually interesting amidst the interview segments. 
The main two cases are covered in the first hour, leaving the final third to serve as sort of a grab bag of UFO fact and legend.  The Roswell crash and other famous cases are presented yet again, this time with the speculation that all are linked somehow.  The proximity of such events to nuclear power plants and atomic test sites is explored. 

STRANGE SEPTEMBERS: THE HILL ABDUCTION & THE EXETER ENCOUNTER isn't the most informative UFO documentary I've ever seen, and certainly not the most riveting.  But it is fairly well-done and should provide some entertainment and enlightenment on the subject for those who haven't already heard it all before. 

Official website with the trailer: 

The film will first be available, April 1, 2016, for VOD and Digital Download, on Vimeo On Demand, where it is currently available for pre-sales at this time:


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