The 1983 movie ‘Wavelength’ has been labelled by some as a government-sponsored UFO acclimation project. Its director dismissed the rumors…
By Robbie Graham
In the early-to-mid 1980s Roswell had yet to break big in pop-culture, or even within the UFO community. However, at least one Hollywood production from this time period drew notable inspiration from the incident.
The low-budget, little-seen 1983 movie Wavelength concerns a UFO being shot down with a laser by the USAF and its friendly alien occupants being held captive at a top secret facility in the desert. The aliens in the movie are played by children, as Spielberg’s were in Close Encounters a few years earlier. The beings here, although far more humanlike than Spielberg’s, also call to mind those reported by Roswell witnesses with their small stature and bald heads. There is even a scene in which a dead alien is autopsied by military doctors, which anticipated the infamous ‘Alien Autopsy’ footage widely released in 1995, which purported to show the dissection of a real Roswell alien in 1947 (the footage was later exposed as a hoax).
Wavelength was written and directed by Mike Gray, who had penned the screenplay for the classic thriller The China Syndrome (1979), and who later went on to create the short-lived Starman TV show (1986-1987), based on the 1984 alien contact movie starring Jeff Bridges. Artist and UFO researcher David Sankey wrote to Gray in 2009 seeking a response to a persistent rumor in the UFO community that his ﬁlm had been produced in collaboration with the government and was inspired not by Roswell, but by an alleged incident in which the US military shot down a UFO in California in the early-1970s. Sankey wrote to Gray:
Over the years in my role as researcher I have come across many references to statements by a variety of people that the basic storyline plot to Wavelength was actually based on a factual account or incident which took place at ‘Hunter Liggett,’ 90 miles south-south-east of Monterey, California. With this in mind, I would like to be direct and ask if there is any truth in these statements and were you inﬂuenced in any way by other parties in preparation for the original Wavelength screenplay? By other parties I mean speciﬁcally governmental or military personal who may have approached you in an advisory capacity to see that speciﬁc details and information should be contained within the ﬁlm structure.
Gray wrote back to Sankey that same day. The director’s response, which Sankey has shared with me, reads, in part:
It was totally my idea without any input from ex-government oﬃcials. I simply took the story of the Roswell incident and asked, “What if they were just tourists?” The whole thing was ﬁction from start to ﬁnish. On the other hand, I’ve always been convinced that the government was hiding something about Roswell…
Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood’s UFO Movies (White Crow Books, 2015). Available now through a wide range of international sellers, including Amazon.