Communion, Roddy McDowall and Early Unheeded Warnings


In 1989 there was a TV special entitled: Encounters of the Fourth Kind, which was a promotional tie-in with the film version of Whitley Strieber’s book Communion.

It was Directed by Drew Cummings and hosted by one of my favourite actors during my childhood;
Roddy McDowall, who, as well as narrating the audiobook version of Communion, was also the narrator of Strieber’s follow-up; Transformation and his 1990 fiction novel; Billy.
I would be interested to know what McDowall’s view on the subject matter was and if he himself had experienced any paranormal events.
Was his involvement in these audiobooks due to his own interest in the abduction phenomena or were they just another job?
I can find no interviews with McDowall speaking about this, but maybe there is an article or two hidden away somewhere?


The special, though appearing somewhat dated some 25 years later (late 80’s computer graphics of a blinking Visitor in the opening titles!), contains interesting footage, interviews and points.
There’s footage of Whitley Strieber, his wife Anne and son Andrew in their upstate New York log cabin and surrounding area, where Whitley and others had many encounters with the ‘Visitors’.
It’s fascinating to see the scenes of many of Whitley’s experiences, including the now removed ‘stone circle’ especially as this footage was only shot a few years after the initial events.
It also contains, as far as I’m aware, the only interview with Andrew Strieber who briefly talks about his experiences:

“I was sleeping and suddenly, these lights came.. a light.. a big bright light came in my room and sometimes my dad comes in to see how I’m doing in the middle of the night, but he doesn’t bring in.. he doesn’t bring in the searchlights, so.. I’m sleeping and I got scared. I think it’s a burglar or something. So I pull the covers over my head and sink down and then the covers..and then something pulls it down and I see the face that’s on ‘Communion’.”

Roddy also chairs a round-table discussion in the studio, which includes several UFO researchers and authors including Dr. Richard Haines, a former NASA research Scientist who, in this section of the discussion, gives a warning which if heeded those 25 years ago could have saved UFOlogy, and more importantly many Experiencers, a lot of  trauma and problems in those intervening years:

Roddy McDowall:
” Doctor Haines, you’ve done a lot of research regarding the abduction victims.
Is there a better way to go about this investigation?

Dr. Richard Haines:
“Yes I think there is. First of all there’s a great number of people doing research in this subject who are not trained and they are ‘self-taught hypnotists’, for instance, and without an understanding of the damage that can be produced if you..”

Roddy McDowall:
“Are they taken seriously?”

Dr. Richard Haines:
“Oh yes, people are in great traumatic conditions after an event like this and they are looking for any help they can find”.

At which point McDowall gives a disbelieving look of bewilderment in response to hearing that such practices take place and then quickly moves on in the discussion.

(you can see this conversation at the 00:18:00 mark)

As well as the footage and interviews with the Striebers, this TV special is also notable for including a section that goes behind the scenes of the Communion film and shows filming footage and interviews with cast and crew including Director Philippe Mora and actor Christopher Walken.

You can watch the special on youtube at:

It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if  you’re a Communion fan.

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