After the 1947 'Roswell Incident', America was gripped by UFO and alien fever. Thousands of terrified Earthlings began to report strange lights in the sky, but for the most part it seemed any 'aliens' up there were content to fly around ambiguously. Until September 19, 1961, that is.
On this day, Betty and Barney Hill - a couple from Portsmouth, New Hampshire - reported the first very case of alien abduction. The incident has since become one of the most famous abduction stories in UFO lore, and in many ways, provided the basis from which other stories would draw inspiration.
Despite this, the Hills have never had their bizarre tale told on the big screen, although all that is about to change. According to Gotham/Principal, one of the companies behind The Maze Runner films, Betty and Barney's story is about to be adapted into a live-action feature named Captured.
The film itself will be based on the 2007 tell-all book of the same name by Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden, while the screenplay will be written by Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel - who are best known as veteran television writers.
Although the abduction story will form the central basis of the film, it will also explore the wider issues surrounding the case. Since Betty and Barney were an interracial couple, Gotham/Principal state the film will “place the events in a context of both Cold War paranoia and the country’s struggle over race relations.” Gotham/Principal producer Eric Robinson claimed in a press release:
Captured is a true story that explores the birth of modern UFO lore through the eyes of the first Americans to report that they were kidnapped by aliens. This is an exciting story that is as intriguing, timely and ripe for adaptation today as it was 54 years ago when this incident occurred. We look forward to sharing Betty and Barney Hill’s incredible encounter with audiences all around the world.
The Betty and Barney Hill Incident
Around 10:30pm on September 19th, the Hills were driving together on their way back from a vacation in Niagara Falls. Both reported that the road was relatively quiet and empty, on account of the time of day and the relatively remote location. Soon, Betty noticed a bright point of light in the sky that moved below the moon and then up and around it. Betty reasoned at the time she was witnessing a falling star, although it appeared to move upwards.
After observing the light for a short while, it grew larger and began to move more erratically. Betty then asked Barney to pull over the car so they can watch it closer and also walk their dog, Delsey. They stopped at a scenic picnic area just south of Twin Mountain, while Barney retrieved a pistol be kept in the trunk of the car - as he was worried about the presence of bears.
They watched what Betty described as an "odd shaped craft" for some time, although Barney initially thought it was a commercial airliner. However, once it rapidly changed direction and descended towards them, he became convinced "this object that was a plane was not a plane." The couple quickly returned to their car and drove away.
The object, which they reasoned was about 40 feet (12 meters) long began to dip and dive over them, with the Hill's claiming it was playing some kind of game of cat and mouse with the car. Eventually, on a quiet stretch of road, the craft suddenly descended towards them, leaving Barney to slam on the brakes. It then hovered over their vehicle at a height of 80-100 feet.
Barney, still armed, left the car and looked closer at the object. Using binoculars, he claimed to see 8 to 11 humanoid figures peering at him from the craft's windows. After a moment, all but one left the windows to attend to a panel, while the last remaining figure continued to stare at him. At this point, Barney claims a message telling him to "stay where you are and keep looking" was communicated to him.
After protrusions began to project from the sides of the craft, Barney "tore" the binoculars away from his eyes and ran, hysterically, back to the car, telling Betty, "They're going to capture us!"
As Barney drove away at high speed, Betty poked her head out the window to watch the object, although there was only darkness above them - despite the fact it had previously being a starry night. The couple also began to hear beeping and buzzing sounds bouncing off the car, while a tingling sensation ran through their body. Their next conscious recollection is hearing a second set of beeping and buzzing sounds and finding themselves 35 miles further down the road. They had only vague recollections about the road, only remembering performing an unplanned turn, a roadblock and a fiery orb.
The couple, now only vaguely recalling events, filed a report with the U.S. Air Force and NICAP, a civilian UFO research group. The leader of this group, Major Donald E. Keyhoe then advised the Hills to seek hypnosis in order remember more detail.
Under hypnosis, their reports become much more detailed. Barney describes the car stalling in front of 6 figures in the road. They then approached the car and told him to close his eyes. He was then taken aboard, separated from Betty, and placed in an examination room. The UFO occupants, who could somehow communicate telepathically with Barney, conducted a quick examination including taking skin samples and inspecting his genitals, anus, ears and mouth. Then then recalls being escorted back to his car.
Betty recalls a similar experience, although she also reportedly communicated with "the leader", who showed her strange books and a 'star chart' showing where they had come from. Under hypnosis, Betty was asked to reproduce the map, although she claims the actual thing was much more complex than her reproduction.
Although filled with details, the hypnotist, Benjamin Simon, never believed the popular 'extraterrestrial abduction hypothesis', instead suggesting their experiences were the result of a singular psychological aberration, perhaps inspired by some of Betty's vivid dreams. Simon did, however, conclude that the Hill's really did believe they were abducted by aliens. Others suggest their recollection of events was extremely similar to the events of an The Outer Limits episode that aired 12 days before their hypnosis sessions, as well as the 1953 film, Invaders From Mars.
Regardless of the truth, what is certain is that the Hills story grabbed the attention of America. Despite this, it has never been shown on the big screen - although did receive a made-for-television movie in 1975.
Currently, there is no information on when Captured might be released.
For our next Moviepilot Magazine, it's all about fear. So we're polling our readers to find out what terrifies them. You can help by answering the question below!