RUNNING TIME: 67 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
SCI-FI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017 ran from 27 April – 6 May https://sci-fi-london.com/
The story of David Huggins, an unassuming 72 year-old who claims to have had a lifetime of encounters with otherworldly beings – including an inter-species romance with an E.T. woman [with whom he lost his virginity t]), and chronicled it all in surreal impressionist paintings. Are his experiences dream, hallucination, or could they be reality?
I used to be an avid reader when I was young, but rather than fiction, it was non-fiction I tended to prefer. One of the subjects I was especially fascinated by was alien encounters [which of course many would consider to be fiction anyway]. I devoured books on the subject, and would stay up late reading them, both intrigued and frightened. Did I believe? Of course I did. I remember vividly some of the conversations I’d have with my mother on the subject – for example she, who thought it was all rubbish, said it was especially stupid how so many of the aliens folk claimed to have seen looked similar, and I replied that it must be because they were real. Later on I became less rigid on the subject and since early adulthood just don’t know what to believe, but I still lean a bit towards believing rather than not believing. If it weren’t true, why would so many people make up such things? One could, I suppose, argue that they’re insane, but then one could also argue that this supposed “insanity”actually allows them to see things and be receptive to things which most people aren’t. Nobody really knows.
One story I most definitely don’t remember reading about is the incredible, bizarre and actually slightly sad tale of David Huggins who is the subject of this most interesting documentary, though it wouldn’t have been very suitable for me as a youngster anyway. Love And Saucers begins with him saying: “Hello, when I was 17 I lost my virginity to a female extra-terrestrial – um, that’s all I can say about it”. It’s a very well chosen opening, presenting in a straight forward manner one of the most extreme aspects of David’s encounters with extra-terrestrials and perhaps warning off a few viewers of a sensitive disposition. Eerie music virtually doubling as sound effects starts up, and there were a few places throughout this documentary where I thought it wasn’t really needed, though it does add an extra element of other-worldliness. Anyway, we then see David in his bedroom getting out one of his diaries, sit on the bed and read from it an experience he had when there was once a knock at his door. He answered it and was greeted by a hairy humanoid alien who took him out to the woods where he met two insect-like aliens and then a female alien who mounted him and had sex with it. Quick images of David’s paintings are flashed on the screen, though that’s about as stylised as this documentary gets, and that’s just fine, because – as you will probably already agree – David’s tales and David’s illustrating of them just don’t need any visual elaboration.
The title then comes up, after which we are given a sense of David’s current life before delving into his childhood and his first encounters. He works at a local delicatessem, paints, meditates, often goes for several days without eating, and is currently writing a movie script about his experiences [please somebody, make it]. Apparently he’s asked the aliens if they’re okay with the documentary and they are thank god. He also had a huge collection of sci-fi and horror movies on video and shows a few of them off in a couple of moments which will make anybody who yearns for the good old days of VHS feel very nostalgic. This made me really like Mr. Huggins, but to be honest with you I liked him from his first few words. Whether what he says has happened to him really did happen to him is in a way missing the point: I got the feeling that he sincerely believes that his stories happened, and to me that’s enough. He has a simple, honest manner which is very pleasant, and just comes across as a really nice guy you’d want to sit down and have a pint with – whether he’s had a sexual relationship with an alien or not. He also seems to carry some considerable pain with him: though it’s not mentioned, he’s no doubt been disbelieved and mocked by many throughout his life, and those pesky aliens all but ruined his marriage [to a human lady] and his chance of living a life that many would been “normal”. At one point, he even describes how his parents drank heavily and beat him. Could there be a connection there? I’ll leave psychologists and the like to muse on that one.
David’s stories are often outrageous, and I’ll leave some for the viewer to find out for him or for herself when Love And Saucers gets properly released. Even I couldn’t help but laugh at the odd thing, like David relating how he’s always painted true events except for one which was totally fictional – which made the aliens unhappy. But David’s impressionist art, which is shown constantly, really does add a compelling touch. It’s vivid, disturbing yet oddly peaceful. Just after the half way mark, the documentary brings in some other people to provide some perspective: his son [his wife, disappointingly but understandably, declined to be interviewed], his son, and some others who’ve also experienced Close Encounters and/or are experts on the subject. One professor raises a particularly interesting point connecting alien visitation with religion that will certainly get some thinking. And we also get to see David at an exhibition of his work where everyone seems to be very respectful and complimentary. In fact nobody says anything negative at all, an obvious decision which may rankle some who may want a more balanced approach, but it’s also nice not to have any “experts” showing up to rubbish everything he says. We can do that ourselves if we feel we want to, and some probably will. Myself – well, I’m with a couple of other people interviewed who see no reason to disbelieve David. After all, he’s clearly [well, to me] convinced that all this stuff did happen, and if he isn’t, then why on earth would he make it all up?
Director Brad Abrahams can occasionally be heard asking a question, but his film, shot simply, cleanly and focusing almost entirely on David and his paintings, refuses to jazz things up. This restrained, even laidback, approach works very much in its favour, adding a greater sense of humanity and even poignancy to the proceedings. I guess that some may may find the documentary a bit slow by modern standards, but for me the running time, which is just over an hour, would have actually benefitted from being extended, but that’s often the mark of a documentary that’s done its job. Its 67 minutes still do a very good job of presenting one of the most interesting stories of alien encounters I’ve ever come across.