- Movie Rating -

Hanger 18 (1981)

| February 13, 1981

In my heart I have a genuine affection (or is it pity) for movie producers foolhardy enough to want to cash in on a blockbuster, yet by this point I can’t really drum up much of anything for Sunn Picture Classics.  What they did, they did to themselves.  It was a stupid idea of try and pull a cash grab out of the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when that film pretty much wrote the book on contact with beings from another world.  Yet, with Hanger 18, it might have been an even dumber idea to want to rip off Peter Hyams Capricorn One as well.  This movie doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going.

The best I can say about Hanger 18 is that at least the people at Sunn Pictures Classics are staying in their lane.  Previously known for hacky, four-walled documentaries that purport to solve the mysteries of Noah’s Ark, The Bermuda Triangle, The Lincoln Conspiracy, the afterlife and the end of the world (don’t ask), this time they’ve taken on a fictional narrative and the results are just as bad.

Hanger 18 came frontloaded with ads that promised to give a definite answer to what was hiding inside the infamous airplane hanger at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  What was held there after the debris was shipped from the UFO crash at Roswell and, hey, this movie . . . this movie will absolutely give you the answers.  The problem: it doesn’t.  What you get is a cheeseball TV movie-style sci-fi drama that somehow pulls in Darrin McGavin, James Hampton and Gary Collins into an embarrassing halfwit story about a group of experts who are caught up in the hysteria over what the ship stored at Hanger 18 might be hiding.

The movie begins with a laughably bad scene in which the crew of the space shuttle (including Hampton and Collins) witness a UFO taking out a satellite.  When they get back to Earth, the astronauts demand to know what happened but are given the run-around by government officials including their immediate supervisor (McGavin).  What it revealed is that the UFO crashed, was recovered by the military and what remains is being hidden . . . well, you know where.

The government, meanwhile, does its best to figure out how to deal with the situation in a non-mass hysteria sort of way partially because it doesn’t want the secret out, but mainly because it’s an election year and the Chief Executive doesn’t want anything to ruin his chances of scoring a nomination.  Added to this is the alternating story of McGavin breaching the spaceship and finding alien bodies onboard that look like Curly Joe DiRita with green contact lenses.

I wish that I could call Hanger 18 good, clean, Z-grade fun, but it’s too tepid and too slow and too boring for that.  Sunn Classic Pictures was at its best when the stories were half-baked documentaries that claimed to know the secrets of mankind.  With a fictional narrative, it kind of just spins its wheels, like bad television where you just want to change the channel.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized