Greetings, readers. Growing up, a facet of my fascination with monsters and science fiction manifested itself as an interest in the paranormal: Specifically, UFOlogy and Cryptozoology. I devoured everything I could read on flying saucers, alien abductions, missing time, giant hairy hominids, Men in Black, lake monsters, Goat Man, Mothman, Flatwoods Monsters, Hopkinsville Goblins…
When Wes was looking for someone to review a stack of documentaries from Reality Entertainment, I threw my hat in the ring. Little did I know at the time that these documentaries averaged four hours in length. Now, I’m no stranger to long entertainment; I’ve marathoned the extended cuts of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, I’ve sat through my share of Ken Burns’ documentaries, I’ve even watched Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle of operas based on Der Nibelungenlied mythology. That’s right, readers, 15 hours of German Opera. For pleasure.
Let’s tackle these DVDs.
BIGFOOT IS REAL! (Runtime: “250 minutes plus!”)
Technically, this is multiple short documentaries in a compilation two-disc set, all by writer/director/narrator “Jay Michael” — at least, all the ones I watched were. The first, “Bigfooting in Oklahoma,” was fairly standard, focusing on the Sasquatch encounters of Esther Schritter, with a substantial amount of time also dedicated to grassroots organizations dedicated to seeking to prove Bigfoot’s existence. The second, focused on the Bigfoot sightings on Honey Island, Louisiana. This was actually a fairly refreshing documentary as it presented evidence that the Honey Island sightings had been faked — culminating in a shoe with a sculpted ape-like foot attached to the bottom, found downstream from where the first sightings took place.
The last one on the first disc, “Swamp Apes,” revolved around the premise that Bigfoot and the various assorted North American Giant Hairy Hominids may be descended from populations of apes accidentally left here by the Phoenicians over hundreds of repeat visits! Okay. Gonna take a deep breath, and then have my historian apoplexy. Yes, the Phoenicians were master shipbuilders and we have evidence that they were all over the Mediterranean, circled Africa, and probably got as far as India. We have NO concrete evidence that they crossed the Atlantic and visited America, much less that they visited often enough, and were careless enough with their collection of domesticated apes, to have left enough primate castaways to form a stable, breeding population. And to then go on and suggest that it’s possible the people of ATLANTIS (!?!) taught the Phoenicians to domesticates apes!?! AAAAAAARRRRRRGGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH! THERE WAS NO ATLANTIS! NONE! NEVER! PLATO INVENTED THE ISLAND NATION OF ATLANTIS AS A MORAL PARABLE ABOUT HOW ATHENS EMBODIES THE IDEAL STATE! NO ONE, prior to the 19th century Theosophists — most notably Ignatius Donnelly — took Atlantis seriously. The city of Atlantis is a fictional antithesis to Athens, embodying all the qualities that Plato felt a State should avoid. Ach du liebes bisschen…
After that little bombshell, I can’t bring myself to watch the rest of this. Moving on to the next documentary…
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT (Runtime: “3 Hours”)
Director/paranormal and financial lecturer Bill Knell, his voice fading in and out and halting as the sound skips against a background of public domain photos, discusses the “accepted” “secret history” of the USS Eldridge, which was supposedly sent forward 40 years in time by an experiment designed to make it invisible to radar, and then introduces us to his star witnesses: Preston Nichols, a paranormal investigator (with “a degree in parapsychology,” which immediately leads me to dismiss this); Al Bielek, whose research into aliens and illicit government experiments was punished by the government using advanced technology to erase his loved ones from existence; and Duncan Cameron, whose brother jumped off the USS Eldridge when it vanished in 1943 and landed in 1982, where he was subjected to mind control experiments at Montauk Point, Long Island, as part of the United States Government’s attempts to master and weaponize the flow of time, before escaping back to 1943 and freeing the Eldridge from it’s eternal prison in hyperspace.
Mother Pus-Bucket, Wes, what did I sign myself up for? The preceding paragraph covers the first fifteen minutes of the documentary. The rest is 20-year old camcorder footage taken in Knell’s living room as Nichols, Bielek and Cameron ramble for the remainder of the running time. They talk about weather control, Orgone energy, mind control, remote viewing, teleportation, invisibility, time travel, and sinister government cover-ups. The camera is NEVER well-focused, and people constantly get up and walk between the camera and the people speaking.
I don’t even have words for how soul-grindingly dull this is. And seriously? Orgone? Wanna try and convince me of the validity of Phlogiston theory next? How about human/dinosaur coexistence?
Enough of this. Moving on…
UFOS DO NOT EXIST!: THE GRAND DECEPTION AND COVER UP OF THE UFO PHENOMENON (Run-time listed as both “two hours” and “250 minutes,” suggesting I’m going to experience some Missing Time while watching this)
Our friend Bill Knell is back, with a two-hour slide-show of public domain images and clip-art which he talks blandly over, with an atonal sitar playing in the background. Can we get a better narrator? Knell stammers, stutters, slurs s’s and c’s, is sometimes hard to hear over the sitar. He often rants against how “the Government” is brainwashing all of us to believe that aliens aren’t visiting us every single day. He argues that the V2 rocket and swept-wing fighter jets are “proof” that the Nazis were using captured alien technology. There’s a long tangent about meeting Jackie Gleason and how Richard Nixon gave Gleason proof that flying saucers were real and piloted by alien beings.
Hey, Bill Knell? Yeah, I just talked to Richard Shaver. He said to tell you you’re nuts. And King George VI thinks you should work on your elocution and delivery. And STOP URGING PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR OTHER DVDS. Seriously, putting an advertisement for THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT in your UFO documentary isn’t acceptable. For one thing, it’s unprofessional. Second, your other documentary is as terrible as this one, and neither should be seen by the eyes of Man. MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE had higher production values, and Torgo would have made a more charismatic narrator. Seriously, take a public speaking class before inflicting your droning stammer on the world at large.
God these DVDs are starting to burn my eyes and sap my will to continue…Okay, one last one.
THE MAGICK OF SOLOMON: LEMEGETON SECRETS REVEALED (Runtime: unlisted — Yea, for though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no Evil…)
A voiceover warns us to avoid tampering in the occult lightly — that the practitioners shown in the documentary are trained magicians. Mind-altering drugs should not be used while practicing the Magick of Solomon. The practitioners shown are not Satanists, having made no pacts with the Devil, but are “explorers of the mind” practicing benign Western Ritual Magick.
We are then treated to the writer/director/narrator of the documentary, Carroll “Poke” Runyon, a former chainsmoking pulp-adventure writer and retired Green Beret officer (and apparently, a student of Ninjutsu, so he’s a Ninja Wizard) who, upon discovering that his gallbladder had calcified, turned to the mystic arts as a means of dealing with the pain — first autohypnosis, then Tantric Buddhism, before finally becoming a ceremonial magician of Western Ritual Magick.
Runyon references Lovecraft, but makes something of a weak, Derlethian “good versus evil” cosmology out of Lovecraft’s cosmic nihilism. His explanation of how pagan deities were converted into the demons of Abrahamic lore is pretty good. The high point of the DVD, however, is the summoning of Ba’al into the “Dark Mirror” — a piece of polished obsidian set in a triangular frame. The camera focuses on Runyon’s reflection as he drones in Latin — his voice kept low and even, part of the whole hypnotic-trance deal. The camera unfocuses, then refocuses — on Runyon wearing a horned crown matching that of Ba’al in the bas-relief sculpture of the god he’d shown earlier.
Enough! ENOUGH! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE! These documentaries are WRETCHED. The Bigfoot one and the Magick of Solomon one have their amusing points, but are overwhelmingly painful to watch — dull at best, while Bill Knell’s “documentaries” should be buried with the nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain. And you wanna know the worst of it? UFOS DO NOT EXIST! is retailing at Amazon dot com for an astonishing goddamn $17.99! Do you wanna know what your goddamn $17.99 gets you? A 10-cent DVD-R containing a two-hour slideshow assembled in Bill Knell’s basement in Windows Movie Maker! And if that isn’t the biggest frigging scam this side of Scientology, I don’t know what is! But some deluded sunovabitch is gonna buy it, just wait and see! And I damn well hope they enjoy it and consider it money well spent.
And if you want to see what these damnable DVDs have done to me, look ye mighty, and tremble:
Tags: Aliens, Astarte, Baal, bigfoot, Bill Knells, ceremonial magic, complete crap, flying saucers, Government Conspiracy, Jay Michael, mind control, Poke Runyon, the Philadelphia Experiment, time travel, true magick, UFOs, warlocks, waste of time, weather control, wizards