Science Fiction Theatre – Hour of Nightmare (06/25/55)

Note: The video quality is so poor, it is not worth grabbing any pictures.

Editor Ed Tratnor assigns his two best photographers Mel & Verda Wingate to get pictures of a UFO.  The married couple is exploring mysteries just like Ed & Lorraine Warren only less fictional.  There have been reports of strange lights from airline pilots in southwestern New Mexico.  Mel shows he has no future in paranormal research by asking a perfectly reasonable question, “How far are the sightings from the White Sands Testing Facility?”  Ed says the military assured him there was no testing in that area; but they said the same thing about the ocean off New York on July 17, 1996 so who knows.

Editor Ed is willing to finance this trip because up to now “most pictures of UFOs have been taken by amateurs and other handicaps.”  What?  Ed Ed hopes they can get some professional shots that experts can actually analyze.  I hope he didn’t book their return flight because we’ve been waiting 60 years for these pictures.  While there, they are also supposed to look into the disappearance of some people from a Mexican village near the US border.  Yeah, there’s a mystery; where ever could they have gone?

Ed Ed suggests they look into reports of a spacecraft in the mountains and turn that into a “picture story” about the “birth of a rumor”.  Mel understands, “I get it — optical illusions, a little superstition, and jumping to conclusions.”  I’m all for skepticism, but why even take the trip if the story is already written?  The Dewey Beats Truman headline was only 7 years earlier; did journalists learn nothing?  Clearly not.

The Wingates take a plane to Los Cruces, then rent a car to go south of the border. They visit the Commandancia de la Policia and ask the about the reported disappearance of several villages, but the chief replies that the stories are exaggerations.  Only one man has disappeared, and that was probably due to a flash-flood. They ask if the chief can recommend a guide, and he sends them to Ramon Sanchez.

They arrive at Sanchez’s desert shack which is the same shack from Stranger in the Desert.  Despite being dissed by Mel calling him “Raymond”, Ramon Sanchez agrees to lead them into the mountains for $5 per day.  While stopped to photograph a mountain lion, they see a flying saucer, but it quickly disappears.  That night they actually do get some pictures of lights in the sky.

The next day, Sanchez finds a rifle with his brother’s initials on it.  He was the man who went missing.  Sanchez believes the lights in the sky killed his brother.  Later the horses refuse to go on.  Looking for what might have spooked them . . . a snake, a cougar, an Elmer’s Glue factory, Mel spots a bleeping dead alien.  Where to start?

  • For the first time, Mel pulls out the video camera.  So to recap: It is still pictures for moving spacecraft and motion picture film for a dead alien.
  • Mel refuses to allow Verda to see the alien.  He twice warns her to stay back.
  • The viewers also never see the alien as it is hidden behind a boulder.
  • It might have died from a shot that idiot Mel blindly fired into the brush that day. Did they learn nothing from Trial by Fire?

Sanchez suggests maybe it is time to head back home.  Mel agrees, but says they are taking the alien with them.  Sanchez is worried the aliens (which he calls caballeros [1]) might come back looking for their amigo.  He is so scared that he pulls a gun on the Wingates and begins unloading the alien from the horse.  The aliens shoot a laser frying him like a . . . hmmm, any food I mention will be deemed racist.  Let’s just go with juevo — I mean egg.  A fried egg.

The Wingates make it back to their hotel.  While Mel develops the pictures, Verda calls Ed.  Mel discovers every one of the pictures is ruined, destroyed by radiation.  The Commandante shows up looking for Sanchez and Mel tells him that, like his brother, Ramon was killed in a flash-flood.  When they finally reach Ed, Mel tells him it was all rumors.

  • So Mel killed an alien, possibly triggering a galactic war resulting in the destruction of Earth and the enslavement of humanity.
  • He doesn’t bust the Commandante for not telling him Ramon was the dead man’s brother.
  • Mel lies to his editor for no good reason when the destruction of the film is still a better story than the rumor-angle.[2]  Not to mention, who could question two eyewitness accounts bearing the credibility of the journalistic profession?
  • The Wingates will soon be dead from radiation poisoning.

More junk.


  • [1] My high school Spanish was German, but Google tells me this means a Mexican gentleman or a horseman, neither of which make sense.  I could understand a basic Hombre, but why elevate the aliens to gentlemen?
  • [2] The alternate interpretation is that they made up the flash-flood story to satisfy the Commandante who was overhearing the call.  It would even be a nice winking non-admission to the Commandante.  Sadly, I don’t think SFT has the level of sophistication necessary for that to be likely.
  • Title Analysis:  No idea what they were going for.  The time period of one hour was not significant.  The only thing nightmarish was Ramon and the horse getting blown up, but that’s not really the main thrust of the story.
  • Unless the horse was a Pinto.

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