Four Walling It – The Metro Detroit Area Gets “Mysteries From Beyond Earth” 2/8/76

Blame it on the classic In Search Of… series, blame it on the short lived popularity of Chariots of the Gods (believe me, it was even quoted on the back cover of the debut album by The Godz, the one on Millennium Records in The 70’s), or maybe blame it on people trying to escape the crap that was going on in The 70’s who were suckers for this kind of stuff who wanted the Hippie Dream to be kept alive, but Crackpot UFO theories are almost like Porn those who love to think about what may exist “Out There”. Thanks to companies like Sunn and in this case RC Riddell and Associates (who at least also Sub-Distributed the Jacques Cousteau Documentary Voyage to the Edge of the World for Pacific International Enterprises and Distributed two Burt Brinckerhoff films, Dogs and Acapulco Gold), many small Mainstream Screens got Four Walled by these low budget so-called Documentaries claiming that something exists in the skies which were believable as a late night TV ad for any get rich scheme.

This was New Age before New Age turned into a term for Bookstores trying to sell these books after they got debunked.

What is the message? Give us your money and your gullibility, I guess!
The most believable thing about this flick is that there were enough suckers that kept this playing for TWO weeks!

A lot of you have possibly have heard of the term Four Walling before, but possibly not know what it meant. Back in the days when the US Theater system was not as corporate as it is now, there were a number of Independent theaters or even chains that allowed someone with a film to rent out a screen for a week, although in some cases such as the first Billy Jack film it turned into a longer stay (although with the only really extended stay being that of the one and only Billy Jack, let’s not get too rosy about that trend). Tom Laughlin may not have invented the pattern, which dates back to the Roadshow/Mom and Dad era at the very earliest, but he did provide the inspiration in The 70’s for film makers not wanting to hop on the Porn Train. Unlike Laughlin, who’s Billy Jack is at least an iconic film that connected with a lot of teenagers of the time with a couple of scenes of boots-off Martial Arts fighting and a lot of talk that pretended to be significant, many of these film makers crapped out boring garbage which really had not much action to speak of (especially in the family films that gave the G Rating a worse name than before) or anything that can be carried into one’s beliefs for a few years before the reality set in.

Still, thanks to the 70’s Post-Hippie New Age Beliefs (there MUST have been something going on in that Tab people actually drank!) these films were programs that got played at many theaters outside of the usual Exploitation Circuit through most of the decade. Some are actually remembered for being a little better than usual. Crackpot UFO Flick Fans occasionally bring up this one, including the usual phony as a 3 Dollar Bill moments passing off as “evidence”, some Retro Cool 70’s Special Effects, hilarious claims, soothing Synth Music before someone gave a genre name for it, and a 70’s Leisure Suit feeling which connects to the wanna-be Chariots of the Gods style all too well.

This one features Lawrence Dobkin (RIP, 2002), who was more of a presence on TV than on film. As many critics bring him up for his appearance in the George C Scott showcase Patton, Screensters will possibly better remember him for being in the 1962 version of The Cabinet of Caligari or a huge number of TV shows including The Rockford Files. He’s no Spock or Kirk, both of whom had their moments in this genre of film with what’s possibly the most amusing examples, but he’s an example of Actors trying something a little different in that time possibly in one of those moments when the work was not coming as much as before or after.

To add more interesting things to the plate, this one was co-written by Judy and Ralph Blum (NOT Author Judy Blume, just to let you know – I know how one letter can be overlooked these days by readers who read too quick). Their book connected to this film is 1974’s Beyond Earth: Man’s Contact With UFOs published by Bantam which still can be found used online or possibly in some well stocked store. Ralph was at it for a long time, writing books on the Runes, UFOs, and other topics of that kind and the New Age Movement of The 70’s kept him in business with the St. Martins pressing of The Book of Runes possibly the best known of his writings especially as it was an easy and cheap find at the B Daltons although many serious students of the Runes seriously criticize it strongly.

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft! Ha! Ha!

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~ by screen13 on February 12, 2014.

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