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No synopsis for Hangar 18.
For more about Hangar 18 and the Hangar 18 Blu-ray release, see Hangar 18 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 25, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Vaughn, James Hampton, Pamela Bellwood, Steven Keats, William Schallert, Darren McGavin
Director: James L. Conway
» See full cast & crew
Hangar 18 Blu-ray Review
In space no one can hear you sigh.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 25, 2013
Whatever happened in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947—if in fact anything happened—has continued to fascinate people to a rather amazing degree. Did a UFO crash land? Did it contain either living or dead aliens? Were the aliens, either alive or otherwise, transported to some holding facility? These and other questions have given birth to virtual cottage industries built around conspiracy theories, and in fact in one poll taken some years ago, when people were asked what one national security secret they'd like more information on if they were ever to become President, "Roswell" won hands down, testament to either Mankind's wise insistence on cutting through the bull of a cover-up or, alternatively, testament to Mankind's ridiculous obsession with fanciful fictions. Hangar 18 wants to trade in on Roswell's continuing notoriety while blending it with what was then the potent pre-Challenger mythology of the United States' space shuttle missions and the post-Watergate paranoia that our government was keeping massive secrets from us. It's hard to look back on what was evidently a pretty low budget science fiction film from 1980 and not giggle at the cheesy "special effects", but audiences at the time were evidently just as nonplussed by the film, since it bombed spectacularly, consigned to late night showings on television where it (of course) became an instant cult item, especially for wide eyed kiddies who were drawn to the film's more cartoonish elements. Whatever enduring legacy Hangar 18 has achieved is probably due as much to the fact that it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 as to anything inherent in the film itself.
The most important thing in any conspiracy theory or cover-up scenario is knowing why there's a conspiracy or what exactly is being covered up. What, just for argument's sake, would be the government's motive for not admitting an alien ship crash landed in New Mexico? Was it a "philosophical" reason, a sort of proto-Christian denial that Man is the center of the universe and that Earth was created by a Divine Presence, in a "one time only" act of genesis? Or could it have been for a more nefarious reason, for example the ability to harvest alien technology to keep the United States well ahead of its global competitors? This is one issue that makes a lot of Hangar 18 not only inexplicable but actually kind of humorous at times, since there is incredible machinating going on throughout this film, and yet the reason for it all is never made overly clear. It's conspiracy for conspiracy's sake, with no real explanation forthcoming, other than a befuddling allusion to an imminent presidential election which is too close to call.
There was a pretty funny political cartoon that came out years ago addressing the increased aging of our society of astronauts. In this cartoon, the space shuttle was zooming through the outer atmosphere with its left turn single blinking madly. It might be a little unkind to bring this up, especially since he passed recently, but an aging Gary Collins, the star of Hangar 18, had his own "senior moments" late in his life when he was convicted of several drunken driving episodes, including at least one hit and run case. Could Collins have been reliving the collision in outer space that sets Hangar 18 off on its precarious course? (Of course, this is said with tongue planted firmly in politically incorrect cheek.) When the space shuttle has a very close encounter of the scraping, metal crunching kind (albeit with a satellite the shuttle is launching), all hell breaks loose when the astronauts make it back to Earth and insist they've definitely made contact (so to speak) with aliens, while a much of sinister government types say it is all in their minds.
Hangar 18 is a veritable treasure trove of actors from sixties and seventies television, perhaps providing a little nostalgia content for Baby Boomers. The astronauts are portrayed by Gary Collins (The Sixth Sense) and James Hampton (F Troop and The Doris Day Show). The nefarious White House chief of staff is given an appropriately slimy turn by Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). Peyton Place's Phillip Abbott is the Air Force General trying to act as liaison between the White House and NASA. None other than Kolchak the Night Stalker himself, Darren McGavin, is the head of NASA. The Bold Ones' and Mannix's Joseph Campanella is an aide, and just for good measure Patty Lane's harried father from The Patty Duke Show, William Schallert, shows up as a scientist trying to help our stalwart spacemen prove they had contact with an alien craft.
The film is relentlessly silly (as might be indicated by its MST3K treatment) and often laugh out loud funny, especially as things get more and more out of hand for the desperate government officials trying to keep a lid on the whole conspiracy. The astronauts actually end up in a backwater Arizona town where the alien craft went down, providing more "rubes and rednecks" giggles. While all of the humor is no doubt unintentional, some of it springs from unlikely sources. One salient case in point: the space shuttle guys, while they're out in space, have absolutely no weightlessness whatsoever. Apparently we didn't need contact with an alien culture to manufacture artificial gravity. Also in a little plot point that kind of strangely presages Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, once the craft is examined, a beautiful young woman in a pod is discovered. Unfortunately, unlike Lifeforce but very like most of Hangar 18, that particular plot points goes absolutely nowhere.
Hangar 18 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hangar 18 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This 1980 feature offers elements that are in very good condition, with one or two brief exceptions. Colors are generally nicely saturated and quite accurate looking. At just a couple of minutes into the feature, in a brief shot of Collins and Hampton in the Space Shuttle, there's a rather bizarre set of horizontal lines that penetrate the image, as if there were electronic interference of some kind. (Something similar happens later with some stock footage of the real Space Shuttle landing, but that has obviously been sourced from a television broadcast.) Other than these brief distractions, things are in very good to excellent shape here, with consistent contrast and a surprising lack of any real damage.
Hangar 18 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hangar 18's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is damage free and suffices quite well, delivering both dialogue and effects quite clearly and convincingly. Perhaps unexpectedly, one of the film's few saving graces is the rather surprisingly effective score by John Cacavas. It might be Star Wars-lite at times, especially in the opening theme that plays under the credits, but the suspense cues are really quite well done and sound fine in this lossless setting.
Hangar 18 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements are offered on this Blu-ray disc.
Hangar 18 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hangar 18 is just Grade Z cheese from start to finish (maybe that Space Shuttle made a quick stop by the moon before the fateful encounter with the alien craft). Kids who grew up with this film on late night television will delight in this generally excellent high definition presentation, but others who are expecting a penetrating science fiction thriller with conspiracy elements and a Roswell connection may feel the need to don a tin foil hat to keep their brains from imploding as they watch this nonsense. Hangar 18 provides copious giggles along the way, ironically probably just as many as were mined by the MST3K gang back in the day. For those who love the film already, for whatever reason, this version certainly is easily recommended.
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