Reviews

Force Beyond, The (1978)

I wouldn’t buy a used car from Donn Davison — I’d buy the entire lot.

When it comes to the 1970s Cryptozoology/Paranormal/UFO craze, I don’t ask for much. A brief runtime. A faux-highbrow narrator. A nonexistent budget. And, of course, plenty of scratchy home movie clips of UFOs and Bigfoots in action. In Search Of is a godsend, but sometimes, it’s too distinguished for my blood. Same goes for the Sunn Classics stuff. Overlords Of The U.F.O. is theoretically perfect, but runs out of ideas at the hour mark. Enter The Force Beyond.

An old lady rubs a desk. Atlantis rises!

A black blob falls down next to a river. Hello, Bigfoot!

“Extra-Terrestrials will overtake the Earth in 2011.” Signed, NASA!

Amidst a warm glow of Moog burps, stuttering delivery, and lovely processionals of visual absurdity, The Force Beyond becomes the faux-documentary of my dreams. Written and produced by mythical renaissance man Donn Davison and his wife, Barbara, and directed by William “South Of Hell Mountain” Sachs, this is like watching an entire season of SCTV, Davison’s own Blood Beast Of Monster Mountain, and Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers Of Ten — all in one sitting. I know that’s not actually possible. But that’s what they said about Sasquatch (and we all know how that turned out).

Orson Welles plays a joke on America. A UFO flies over Washington. The Universe begins! Flashing typography issues a “WARNING: what we are about to see is based entirely on scientific fact. For the next 85 minutes, “Donn Davison, the producer of this motion picture”, will usher us through four segments detailing “Bigfoot Country”, “The Psychic Search For Atlantis!”, “The Devil’s Triangle”, and “U.F.O.s Explained!”. What this means is a road trip to The International UFO conference, fake interviews with (fake?) mathematicians inside of not-really-flying airplanes, a speech by the leader of M.U.F.O.N. (The Mutual UFO Network, duh), possibly exciting newsreel footage, lots of questionable photos, and a sculpture of a supposed alien, which appears to be a giant egg clad in Battlestar Galactica pajamas. The ending made no sense. I fell asleep during the hypnotizing psychics bit. I feel very good right now.

The Force Beyond is the cinematic equivalent of a shoddy, cash-in UFO paperback from any point in the latter 70s. Glaringly tacky, beautifully packaged, and promptly satisfying in terms of both “facts” and laffs, this is exactly what I want in paranormal docu-junk. Intermittent creeps included.

This movie is a total hit — for Donn Davison fans, lovers of obscure 1970s paranormal exposes, and anyone looking for an enlightening night spent with grown men solemnly piloting life-size UFO replicas (of their own creation). See it!

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