Hangar 18 (film)

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Hangar 18
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Conway
Produced by Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
Screenplay by Ken Pettus
Story by
  • Thomas C. Chapman
  • James L. Conway
Music by John Cacavas
Cinematography Paul Hipp
Edited by Michael Spence
Distributed by Sunn Classic Pictures
Release date
July 1980
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11,000,000[1]

Hangar 18 is a 1980 American science fiction action film directed by James L. Conway and written by Ken Pettus with the story by Thomas C. Chapman and Conway. The film stars Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins, James Hampton, and Pamela Bellwood.[2]


Hangar 18 involves a U.F.O. cover-up, following an incident aboard the Space Shuttle. The orbiter is launching a satellite, which collides with a nearby unidentified object. The collision kills an astronaut in the launch bay. The incident is witnessed by astronauts Price and Bancroft.

After returning to Earth, both men investigate what they know happened, but which the government tries its best to hide. The damaged alien spacecraft has been recovered after making a controlled landing in the Arizona desert, and brought by scientists to an Air Force base to be concealed and studied. Entering the ship, the scientists find it to have been manned by a crew of two aliens—both now dead. The technicians make three discoveries—a woman in some sort of stasis, who later awakens screaming; symbols on the control panels match those used in ancient Earth civilizations; the ship's computer reveals extensive surveillance footage of power plants, military bases, industrial plants and major cities worldwide. One of the scientists deduces that the ship could not have reached Earth on its own, and that a mother ship—larger, faster and more long ranged than the one recovered—is still out there.

Meanwhile, with their dogged pursuit to uncover the truth, both Bancroft and Price are targeted by the government. Chased by agents, Bancroft manages to get away, but Price is killed. Bancroft eventually manages to make his way to Hangar 18, where the alien craft is being studied.

As the researchers discover evidence aboard the spacecraft that the aliens were planning to return to Earth, government agents remotely fly a jet filled with explosives into the hangar—a move aimed at killing off all involved in the cover-up in a final attempt to maintain secrecy. After the explosion, a news bulletin is released about the hangar explosion, causing a congressional hearing for evidence about the activities in Hangar 18. It is revealed that Bancroft and a few others survived the explosion, since they were inside the alien ship.



Parts of the movie were filmed in Midland and Big Spring, Texas, and at the former Pyote Air Force Base, as well as the former Webb Air Force Base.[citation needed] Filming also took place in Salt Lake City, Utah.[3]


Critical response[edit]

When the film was released The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby dismissed the film, writing, "Hangar 18 is the sort of melodrama that pretends to be skeptical, but requires that everyone watching it be profoundly gullible ... It stars ... Robert Vaughn as the ruthless and fatally unimaginative White House Chief of Staff ... In the supporting cast is Debra MacFarlane, who plays a beautiful female specimen found aboard the saucer, a young woman who looks amazingly like a Hollywood starlet. But then, I guess, she is. The flying saucer itself looks like an oversized toy that might have been made in Taiwan."[4]


Hangar 18 was released in US theaters in July 1980.[citation needed] The film was released in Ireland on March 13, 1981.[citation needed] Hangar 18 was one of the very few American films to be theatrically shown in the Soviet Union.[citation needed] It premiered on the TV channel 1 on the New Year night of 1982.[citation needed] Because of the general unavailability of films with elements of science fiction and the action genre, it achieved enormous popularity among Soviet youth. In May 1989, Hangar 18 was featured in an episode of the movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000[5] during the KTMA era. The film was released by Sunn Classic Pictures, an independent U.S.-based film distributor whose library is now owned by Paramount Pictures, notable for presenting what TV Guide called "... awful big-screen 'documentaries' [like] In Search of Noah's Ark and In Search of Historic Jesus".[6] Hangar 18 was released on Blu-ray on June 25, 2013.[7] A version with an alternate ending was televised as Invasion Force. Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide says that the new ending undermines the whole film.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Hanger 18". The Number. United States. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Hangar 18". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  3. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874. 
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (January 10, 1981). "Hangar 18 film review". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hangar 18". IMDb. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Hanger 18 film review". TV Guide. United States. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Hanger 18". Olive Films. June 25, 2013. ASIN B00CFHEEVM. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ DVD Talk, June 25, 2013 - Hangar 18 (Blu-ray), Video & Audio
  9. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide, By Leonard Maltin - Hangar 18 (1980)

External links[edit]

Mystery Science Theater 3000[edit]