|(Originally published May 29, 2018 at Adventures In Poor Taste as "UFO monsters: 10 species of terror.")|
Soon after the first report of flying saucers in June 1947, Unidentified Flying Objects took the place of Sea Serpents as the the great mystery of the unknown. The belief spread that UFOs were spacecraft from other worlds, and shortly thereafter, people began reporting encounters with their occupants. Most of the aliens were described as being spacemen, not all that different from humans, however, some of the reports sounded more like the bug-eyed monsters of early pulp science fiction.
At The Saucers That Time Forgot, we usually look at the weird stories and events of UFO history, but here we’ll look at some of its myths of those extraterrestrial creatures.
1897: Planet Earth
Long before there were flying saucer reports, there were stories of creatures from other worlds, and the most famous and influential one was H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. His invading Martians were inhuman, octopus-like creatures. The story had a huge influence on UFO lore as did Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation of it for Halloween. The War of the Worlds set the industry standard, and its imitators from - print to motion pictures - almost always presented space aliens as invading monsters.
The Deros of the Shaver Mystery
March 1945: Beneath the Earth (and in the pages of Amazing Stories)
Before the Flying Saucer wave of 1947, Richard Shaver was telling tales of abductions by Deros, the hideous dwarfed degenerate offspring of ancient extraterrestrials. They lived beneath the surface of the Earth, and used their alien technology to torment and torture mankind from ancient times to today. Shaver’s Deros were said to be the basis for legends; witches, goblins and the monsters of myth - and perhaps Satan himself.
The Saucer and the Scoutmaster
August 19, 1952: Palm Beach County, Florida
D.S. DesVergers, “Sonny,” was driving three Boy Scouts home when he stopped to investigate strange lights. Armed with a flashlight and a machete, he headed alone into the woods where he encountered a UFO. He said the hatch opened and blasted him with a ball of fire singeing his cap, arms, and a patch of nearby grass. Afterwards, pressed by reporters for more details, he said, "It's better for me not to go any further for the public good because it might cause panic." In an exclusive interview the next year for The American Weekly, DesVergers admitted he had seen a “creature” inside the saucer, but refused again to go further, giving the distinct impression that the alien was just too horrible to describe.
The Little MenMarch, 1948: Aztec, New Mexico When flying saucers started appearing in 1947 and people speculated about the occupants, some thought they might be men from Mars. But not like Wells’ Martians. Men, not monsters. But since the saucers appeared to have little headroom, they must be small. Frank Scully wrote the 1950 book Behind the Flying Saucers, based on Silas Newton’s story of the military's capture of a crashed flying saucer and the alien bodies inside. The little men from Venus were identical to humans, just smaller, “Dr. Gee says they measured between 36 and 42 inches and were 30 to 40 years old. Otherwise he found nothing unusual about them.” The story was proven to be a hoax, but decades later, ufologists salvaged it by retconning and recycling it into the Roswell crash story.
The Visitor from Venus
The Flatwoods Monster
September 12, 1952: Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia
The Charleston, West Virginia Gazette reported that after seeing a fiery object seem to come down in the hills, a group of seven people, mostly kids, went to look for it. They saw flashing lights and smelled a horrible sulphur odor, then saw a "10 to 12-foot tall monster with a face of fiery red, protruding eyes, a green body and a spade-like tail." They fled in terror and notified the police, who investigated the scene, finding “a strong, sickening burnt metallic odor still prevailing, but there was no sign of the monster.”
Hairy Dwarfs Attack
November 29, 1954: Petare, Miranda, Venezuela
Gustavo Gonzales and his employee, José Ponce, were on a pre-dawn business drive when they saw a large metallic or luminous sphere hovering above the road. Stopping, they saw a hairy dwarfish being, 3 feet tall, with claws and glowing eyes, approaching. Gonzales took hold of it picked it up, but found that the alien dwarf was strong and fought fiercely back. Gonzales pulled a knife and stabbed at it, but his blade glanced off its tough hide. During the fight, Ponce ran to the police station for help. Two more of the creatures appeared, and one blinded Gonzales with a bright light before they returned to their craft and flew away. Gonzales went to the police station, where he found Ponce trying to bring help. No evidence was left behind except for a deep scratch in Gonzales’ side from the fight.
The Goblins from Outer Space
August 21, 1955: Christian County, Kentucky
As the story goes, one of the family at the Sutton farmhouse saw a mysterious flying object land in the woods nearby. There were about a dozen people at the house, and when he tried to show someone the direction of it, they found that “little men with big heads and long arms were approaching the house… having huge eyes and hands out of proportion to their small bodies...” Fearing an attack, they returned to the house and armed themselves with a shotgun and a pistol. The creatures approached the house and the Suttons fired on them, but their shots didn’t seem to harm the aliens, only knocked them down. The siege went on for hours, but during a lull, the family piled into to two vehicles and reported the attack to the police in Hopkinsville. Checking it out, the police saw the evidence of gunfire, but no intruders. After the cops left, the goblins returned in the early morning, but retreated for good before daybreak. In later retelling the aliens were little green men, but were not described that way by the original witnesses.
The Hypnotic Aliens of Betty and Barney Hill
September 19, 1961: near Lincoln, New HampshireBetty and Barney Hill saw a UFO on a long drive home and afterwards had recurrent fearful nightmares. When hypnotized by a psychiatrist, they told a story of being abducted and medically examined by short men with big eyes. The Hills had been treated by a medical professional, Dr. Benjamin Simon, and that gave their story added credibility, which helped their case become famous, the subject of a best-selling book, and later a 1975 TV, movie, The UFO Incident. The Hill’s story served as a transition between the Contactee stories and the nightmarish abduction encounters that took their place.
The Alien Robots of Cisco Grove
September 4, 1964: 28 year-old Donald Shrum was bow hunting in Cisco Grove, California, but got lost in the woods. When the signal fire he set to attract help seemed to attract a UFO instead, he took refuge in the lower branches of a tall pine tree. Two silvery-clad human-like beings approached, strange men with bulging eyes, no necks, and they came after him, trying to dislodge Shrum from the tree by shaking it. Then it got weird. A third alien, a robot, joined the attack. Shrum fired arrows, hitting the robot once, which momentarily stopped it. After that, the robot released a noxious gas or vapor from its mouth, causing him to black out temporarily. Shrum recovered, climbed higher, and strapped himself in with his belt. He fought back throughout the night, throwing objects, lit matches and burning pieces of his clothing at the aliens. A second robot appeared, and Shrum was gassed again, but when he awoke in the early dawn, he was alone. Despite Shrum being able to produce a dented arrowhead as evidence, the Air Force investigators considered the incident a hoax.
The Winged Monster of Point Pleasant
November 12, 1966: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
This famous case involved a year-long series of sightings of a large menacing bird-like creature, part of many strange happenings. Gray Barker covered the story in his book, The Silver Bridge, but its best-known from John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies. The Mothman is not really a proper spaceman from a UFO, it's more a part of the school of ufology that connects all weirdness to the paranormal. The frustration over the lack of physical evidence for flying saucers prompted some ufologists to look elsewhere for answers.
Bigfoot, UFOs and the Paranormal
October 20, 1967: Bluff Creek, California (filmed)
Bigfoot has seldom seriously connected with UFOs, but presents the same problems in regards to physical evidence. This has lead to some people hunting Bigfoot to put their faith into the paranormal instead, suggesting that the creatures are of a magical or inter-dimensional origin. For an exploration into the paranormal side of Bigfoot, there’s probably no better or worse book to mention than, The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection by Jack Lapseritis. It's just one of many novel theories, but perhaps the most entertaining explanations was found in The Six Million Dollar Man 1976 two-part episode, "The Secret of Bigfoot.” Without spoiling the entire story, it’s revealed that Bigfoot was created by aliens to serve as their guardian.
The Abduction of the Fishermen
Oct. 11, 1973: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker had their night fishing trip interrupted when they were caught by aliens. There were three of them, about five feet tall and bipedal, but otherwise nonhuman, and the creatures didn’t walk, but floated through the air, ghost-like. Their bodies seemed to be covered with pale gray wrinkled skin, and they had very long arms with crab-like pincers for hands, and their stocky legs ended in elephant-like feet. There was no neck, and the heads were bullet or dome-like, no eyes were visible in the wrinkled faces. In the place of a nose and ears, they had short pointed carrot-like protuberances, and where the mouth should be, there was only a small slit. They took the fisherman aboard their oval-shaped ship, examined, then released them unharmed. After reporting the terrifying experience, the witnesses came to believe that their captors had been some kind of robots, and Hickson thought they were controlled from afar by some peaceful alien intelligence.
The Greys and Alien Abductions
In the 1950s, the Contactees went on joyful saucer trips with angelic aliens, but that fell out of fashion in the 60s. UFO researchers began to using the hypnotic regression on witnesses as an investigative tool to search for hidden memories. Unlike in the famous 1961 Betty and Barney Hill case, often these attempts were conducted by amateurs, not physicians. These untrained hypnotists were able to produce stories from their subjects, and more often than not, the nightmarish stories echoed that of the Hill’s; being helpless, and at the mercy of a medical examination by small humanoid aliens. In the 80s, those big-eyed little men came to known as “the Greys,” eventually taking over as the industry standard of what UFO occupants were expected to look like.
The Changing Faces of the Aliens
Descriptions of aliens have changed over time, from men, to monsters and angels, and back again. There have always been stories of weird and wonderful things, but we tend to pay more attention to those that match our expectations - or seem to confirm what we think we already know. The middlemen who usually bring us the stories, such as UFO investigators and media reporters, serve as editors or filters. For the most part, they are telling us what we want to hear, and reinforce stereotypes. The final factor is the role of emotion and imagination influencing the witness at the moment of the experience. Someone awestruck with wonder may come away from a UFO encounter with a tale of a benevolent visitor, while a terrified witness may tell the story of a horrible invading space monster. Much of it comes down to what's in the mind and the eye of the beholder.
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