Close Encounters of the Hollywood Kind

What if Aliens are Us from the Future?

Syfy’s first original film — Official Denial — was about an abductee the government used as bait to shoot down a UFO. The twist ending? They were us.

Bryce Zabel
Mar 11 · 11 min read
Official Denial | Syfy (Sci-Fi Channel) 1993 | Written by Bryce Zabel, Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith

Progenitor

The original draft of Official Denial was called Progenitor. The classic definition of a progenitor is a direct ancestor but that’s where the time travel loop came in. We are the progenitors of these visitors in a strictly linear sense, yes, but if they’ve come back to our present from their future and altered timelines then it could be argued that they were their own progenitors.

Operation Forced Encounter hits its target.
Man in the Mirror?

They were us.

My twist ending was that the aliens were not extraterrestrial at all. They were evolved (or devolved) humans, coming back in time, to cause a ripple effect in the human bloodline that could keep them from making the mistakes they’d made and keep humanity alive. Although they were trying to stay in the shadows and not screw up time, the fact that we shot one of them down, changed the timeline. Then all bets were off.

From Page to Stage

It took five years after that spec script was written to sell it and get it made. For a few years, particularly after its success at L.A. Law, my agent would report what a great writing “sample” it was. It got me work. Everybody wanted to read it, but no one was ready to make it.

Holly Brisley as “Dos”

The Film’s Reception

Worth noting is that we got better reviews than we expected. Daily Variety’s Dominic Griffin said that “Official Denial marks the Sci-Fi Channel’s first vidpic, and is a promising and entertaining debut.” He wrote:

Abductee Paul Corliss | General Spalding, Majestic-12

The Future is Unwritten

General Spalding and Paul Corliss have a contentious relationship in the film but, by the end, having been through so much together, they have come to a grudging acceptance of each other. This is their final conversation, the Twilight Zone style twist ending that changes everything.

Life Imitates Art

As it further turns out, Official Denial has been highlighted as potentially having an impact on the famous Rendlesham Forest case from 1980. Writer Ian Ridpath drew the connection in a post he wrote, “Official Denial: The Source of a False Memory?” In it, he invokes the case of Sgt. Jim Penniston who was there for the RAF Woodbridge sighting.

What About Time Travel for Real?

The notion of aliens as extratemporals has its own puzzles and inconsistencies. If people of the future are our visitors, then presumably there is another time stream in which we do not have a UFO phenomenon — at least in the original time stream where the decision was made to go back into the human past. Or does the whole thing go in some bizarre loop? In A.D. After Disclosure, my co-author Richard Dolan and I had this to say on the subject:

Future Imperfect

At the end of the day, I come back to “The Future is Unwritten,” and find hope in that phrase. Maybe it means that it’s not too late for us. We can still fix our planet and learn to live in harmony with the Earth. We can turn away from war and nuclear weapons.

Time’s Up

Because you can’t stream Official Denial, or watch it on DVD, or even find a poor quality VHS anywhere, here’s a YouTube video of the entire film at theend of this article.

Trail of the Saucers

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion

Bryce Zabel

Written by

Writer/producer in features & TV. Creator, five primetime series. Ex: TV Academy CEO; CNN reporter; USC professor. Author: Beatles, JFK what-ifs. UFO analyst.

Trail of the Saucers

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion from an Expanding Collective of Writers

Bryce Zabel

Written by

Writer/producer in features & TV. Creator, five primetime series. Ex: TV Academy CEO; CNN reporter; USC professor. Author: Beatles, JFK what-ifs. UFO analyst.

Trail of the Saucers

Remixing UFO/UAP News, Culture, Analysis, History & Opinion from an Expanding Collective of Writers

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