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
Starring Darren McGavin
Robert Vaughn
Gary Collins
James Hampton
Pamela Bellwood
Music by John Cacavas
Cinematography Paul Hipp
Edited by Michael Spence
Distributed by Sunn Classic Pictures
Release dates
July 1980
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11,000,000[1]

Hangar 18 is a 1980 science fiction film that was released to capitalize on the UFO interest of the era. The film itself carries ties to Area 51, as well as ufology. Although it flopped (reportedly earning a gross of only $6 million), it tantalized those who believed in government cover-ups of UFOs (such as the Roswell incident). In May 1989, Hangar 18 was featured in an episode of the movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000[2] during the KTMA era.

The picture 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".[3]


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 Bancroff.

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. Although the aliens on board die, the government technicians begin researching the complex ship. On board the craft, the technicians make three discoveries: A woman in some sort of stasis, who later awakens screaming, symbols on the control panels are the same as those found in ancient Earth civilizations, and extensive surveillance footage of power plants, military bases, and major cities worldwide.

Meanwhile, with their dogged pursuit to uncover the truth, both Bancroff and Price are targeted by the government. Chased by agents, Bancroff 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.


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 one of the very few American films to be theatrically shown in the Soviet Union. It premiered on the 1st TV channel on the New Year night of 1982. Because of general unavailability of films with elements of science fiction and action genre, it achieved enormous popularity among Soviet youth.


  1. ^ http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Hangar-18#tab=summary
  2. ^ Hangar 18 at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ TV Guide, film review. Last accessed: February 19, 2011.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent The New York Times, film review, January 10, 1981. Last accessed: February 19, 2011.

External links[edit]

Mystery Science Theater 3000[edit]