Sunday, February 11, 2018

Chariots of the Gods Influence on the 1970s

Interest in the idea of ancient extraterrestrial visits were at an all time high in the 70s, spurred on by Erich von Däniken's 1968 book Chariots of the Gods and subsequent 1970 movie. The pop culture impression of this book and film at the time cannot be overstated; the film was shown at public schools and the book was an international best seller that spawned numerous sequel texts.
In Search of Ancient Astronauts was a 1973 NBC TV special hosted by Rod Serling and essentially a TV remake of the 1970 film.
In 1977, William Shatner's Mysteries of the Gods was released to theaters, with yet another take on Erich von Däniken's ideas. The movie poster and print ads for this were unintentionally hilarious and read like ad copy written by film producer H. Kroger Babb which exhorted potential viewers to See! things like -The crystal skull that no human could have carved. -The prehistoric weapon which had to be invented by a space technology -The flying biblical wheel which is aerodynamically perfect; as well as 13 other things to See!
One of the print ads read "Your government is keeping secrets from you: WE HAVE BEEN INVADED FROM OUTERSPACE! A Spectacular Space adventure for the whole Family! CAPTAIN KIRK WILL PROVE IT TO YOU." Interestingly, this film existed in both Shatner and non-Shatner versions.
This was at a time when another Star Trek alum was hosting investigations into the mysteries of the unknown. For six years Leonard Nimoy hosted In Search Of... and by the third episode were considering Chariots Of The Gods type ideas.
One early 70s show that considered paranormal topics was The Sixth Sense, created by Anthony Lawrence. Starring Gary Collins and Catherine Ferrar, who played a professor of parapsychology, who with his assistant attempted to solve supernatural crimes and mysteries. 
The husband and wife writing team of Anthony and Nancy Lawrence read a number of Erich von Däniken's books and would later create The Phoenix.

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