Before the greys, things were a lot weirder.
Animal Planet’s “Monster Week” is underway, and AiPT! Science has decided to join in on the fun, with a slightly more skeptical viewpoint. Click the “MW2018” tag down below for more, all week!
Soon after the first report of flying saucers in June of 1947, “Unidentified Flying Objects” took the place of sea serpents as the great mystery of the unknown. The belief that UFOs were spacecraft from other worlds spread, and people began reporting encounters with their occupants.
Most of the aliens were described as being spacemen not all that different from humans, but some of the reports sounded more like the bug-eyed monsters of early science fiction. At “The Saucers That Time Forgot,” we usually examine the weird stories and events of UFO history, but here we’ll look at some of the most monstrous of those extraterrestrial creatures.
1897: Planet Earth
Long before there were flying saucer reports, there were stories of creatures from other planets, and the most famous and influential one was H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. His invading Martians were inhuman, octopus-like creatures. Wells’ book set the industry standard, and his imitators from print to motion pictures almost always gave us space aliens as invading monsters.
The Deros of the Shaver Mystery
March 1945: Beneath the Earth (and in the pages of Amazing Stories)
Before the flying saucer wave of 1947, Richard Shaver was telling tales of abductions by Deros, the hideous, dwarfed, degenerate offspring of ancient extraterrestrials. They lived beneath the surface of the Earth and used their alien technology to torment and torture mankind. Shaver’s Deros were said to be the basis for legends; witches, goblins and the monsters of myth – and perhaps Satan himself.
The Florida Scoutmaster
August 19, 1952: Palm Beach County, Florida
D.S. DesVergers (aka “Sonny”) was driving three Boy Scouts home when he stopped to investigate strange lights. Armed with a flashlight and a machete, he headed alone into the woods where he encountered a UFO. He said the hatch opened and a ball of fire blasted him, singeing his cap, arms, and a patch of nearby grass.
Pressed by reporters for more details, he said, “It’s better for me not to go any further for the public good, because it might cause panic.” In an exclusive interview the next year for newspaper supplement The American Weekly, DesVergers admitted he had seen a “creature” inside the saucer, but refused again to go further, giving the distinct impression that the alien was just too horrible to describe.
The Flatwoods Monster
September 12, 1952: Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia
The Charleston Gazette reported that after seeing a fiery object seem to come down in the hills, a group of seven people, mostly kids, went to look for it. They saw flashing lights and smelled a horrible sulfur odor, then saw a “10 to 12-foot tall monster with a face of fiery red, protruding eyes, a green body and a spade-like tail.” They fled in terror and notified the police, who investigated the scene, finding “a strong, sickening burnt metallic odor still prevailing, but there was no sign of the monster.”
November 29, 1954: Petare, Miranda, Venezuela
Gustavo Gonzales and his employee, José Ponce, were on a pre-dawn business drive when they saw a large metallic or luminous sphere hovering above the road. Stopping, they saw a hairy dwarfish being, three feet tall, with claws and glowing eyes, approaching. Gonzales grabbed it and picked it up, but found that the alien dwarf was strong, and it fought fiercely back.
Gonzales pulled a knife and stabbed at it, but his blade glanced off its tough hide. During the fight, Ponce ran to the police station for help. Two more of the creatures appeared, and one blinded Gonzales with a bright light before they returned to their craft and flew away. No evidence was left behind except for a deep scratch in Gonzales’ side from the fight.
The Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblins
August 21, 1955: Christian County, Kentucky
A family at the Sutton farmhouse saw a mysterious flying object land in the woods nearby, and when they tried to show someone where, they found that “little men with big heads and long arms were approaching the house … having huge eyes and hands out of proportion to their small bodies ….”
Fearing an attack, they returned to the house and armed themselves with a shotgun and a pistol. The creatures approached and the Suttons fired on them, but while their shots knocked the aliens down, they didn’t seem harmed by them.
The siege went on for hours, but during a lull, the family piled into two vehicles and reported the attack to the police. Checking it out, the police saw the evidence of gunfire, but no intruders. The goblins returned in the early morning, but retreated for good before daybreak. In a later retelling the aliens were little green men, but they were not described that way by the original witnesses.
The Cisco Grove Incident
September 4, 1964
Donald Shrum, 28, was bow-hunting in Cisco Grove, California, when he got lost in the woods. The signal fire he set to attract help seemed to attract a UFO instead, so he took refuge in the lower branches of a tall pine tree. Two silvery-clad human-like beings approached — strange men with bulging eyes and no necks — and tried to dislodge Shrum from the tree by shaking it.
Then it got weird. A third alien, a robot, joined the attack. Shrum fired arrows, hitting the robot once, which momentarily stopped it. The robot released a noxious gas or vapor from its mouth, causing Shrum to black out temporarily. After recovering, he climbed higher into the tree, and strapped himself in with his belt.
Shrum fought back throughout the night, throwing objects and lit matches, and burning pieces of his clothing at the aliens. A second robot appeared, and Shrum was gassed again, but when he awoke in the early dawn, he was alone. Despite Shrum producing a dented arrowhead as evidence, Air Force investigators considered the incident a hoax.
The Pascagoula Abduction
Oct. 11, 1973: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker had their night fishing trip interrupted when they were caught by aliens. There were three of them, about five feet tall and bipedal, but otherwise nonhuman. They didn’t walk, but floated through the air, ghost-like.
Their bodies seemed to be covered with pale, gray, wrinkled skin, and they had very long arms with crab-like pincers for hands. Their stocky legs ended in elephant-like feet. The aliens had no necks, and their heads were bullet or dome-like, with no eyes visible. In the place of a nose and ears they had short, pointed, carrot-like protuberances, and where the mouth should have been, there was only a small slit.
They took the fisherman aboard their oval-shaped ship, examined them, then released them unharmed. After reporting the terrifying experience, the witnesses came to believe their captors had been some kind of robots, and Hickson thought they were controlled from afar by some peaceful alien intelligence.
November 12, 1966: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
This famous case involved a year-long series of sightings of a large, menacing, bird-like creature, as well as other strange happenings. Gray Barker covered the story in his book, The Silver Bridge, but it’s best-known from John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies.
The Mothman is not really a proper spaceman from a UFO, it’s more a part of the school of ufology that connects all weirdness to the paranormal. The frustration over the lack of physical evidence for flying saucers prompted some ufologists to look elsewhere for answers.
Bigfoot, UFOs and the Paranormal
October 20, 1967: Bluff Creek, California (filmed)
Bigfoot has seldom seriously connected with UFOs, but it presents the same problems in regards to physical evidence. This has led some Bigfoot believers to put their faith in the paranormal instead, suggesting that the creatures are of a magical or inter-dimensional origin.
For an exploration into the paranormal side of Bigfoot, there’s probably no better (or worse) book to mention than The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection, by Jack Lapseritis. It’s just one of many novel theories, but one of the most entertaining explanations was found in The Six Million Dollar Man 1976 two-part episode, “The Secret of Bigfoot.” Without spoiling the entire story, it’s revealed that Bigfoot was created by aliens to be their guardian.
Greys, and the Changing Faces of Aliens
In the 1950s, Contactees went on joyful saucer trips with angelic aliens, but that fell out of fashion in the ’60s. Untrained, amateur hypnotists were able to produce nightmarish stories that echoed the famous 1961 “alien abduction” of Betty and Barney Hill — being helpless, and at the mercy of a medical examination by small humanoid aliens. In the ’80s, those big-eyed little men came to known as “the Greys,” and they eventually took over as the industry standard of what UFO occupants were expected to look like.
UFO investigators and the media can serve as editors or filters, telling us what we want to hear, but the role of witness emotion and imagination can’t be discounted when wondering why aliens appear the way they do. Someone awestruck with wonder may come away from with a tale of a benevolent visitor, while a terrified witness may tell the story of a hostile, horrible, invading space monster.