In the 1950s horror films changed course from the supernatural, the Gothic, and from the mad scientist cautionary tale to expressions of cultural fears of communism and cultural conformity through the metaphor of alien invasion. In the 21st century alien invasion continues to be a popular venue for the expression of our collective fears, but in our time the fear comes less from communism and more from terrorism and rogue nations drawing upon advanced nuclear technologies.
On March 11, 2011 these fears will be expressed in the new science fiction film Battle: Los Angeles. The film is based upon a real event which took place in the early months of 1942 over the skies of Los Angeles as an unidentified object appeared and drew military fire in the heightened sensitivities present as the incident took place just a few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. YouTube includes a clip which incorporates an original radio news broadcast of the event with newspaper headlines from the time. Brenda Denzler describes this incident in her book The Lure of the Edge: Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs (University of California Press, 2001):
“Two days after a Japanese submarine surfaced near Santa Barbara, California, and fired upon gasoline storage tanks, a luminous object larger than an apartment house was sighted visually and by radar over Los Angeles. As powerful searchlights followed the object, antiaircraft weapons fired ineffectively on it for an hour, at which point the object vanished. During the incident, six people died — three from unexploded shells and three from heart attacks. The object itself never fired a shot. Authorities suspected that the object had been a Japanese airplane of some sort, so in the ensuing hours twenty Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles were arrested and accused of having used flashlights to signal to it.”
Battle: Los Angeles picks up on this incident as a form of alien invasion and brings it into the present with influences from big budget blockbuster science fiction films like Independence Day. Visit the film’s website here, and its Facebook page here.