Can we as a film audience separate fact from science fiction? You can choose to believe in them or not, but for the real people represented in the following alien abduction films, extraterrestrial visitations to our planet are nothing short of the absolute truth. Using methods of hypnosis and conscious recall, abductees of unearthly abductors were able to reproduce their experiences through memoirs and documented case studies, which were later turned into books for the mass market.
Oftentimes, the media depicts alien life forms as either completely malevolent (as is the case in Alien or The Thing), or entirely harmless (think E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or Mac and Me). While it’s up for debate what extraterrestrials’ meddlings with man ultimately accomplish, it’s very clear to contactees that they have an agenda of their own. The books written by or for these abductees usually portray aliens as non-threatening and somewhat friendly, although they are frequently depicted as hostile, cold, and steadfast.
These three films, which were based on true events according to the authors and abductees, describe alien life as they have experienced it, most of the time involuntarily so. It may not be the aliens’ intent to frighten us, but after watching these alarming dramatizations, we as the human species have much to think about.
1. Communion (1989)
Based on the book of the same name by Whitley Strieber, Communion focuses on the struggles of the author himself, played by Christopher Walken, to come to terms with the possibility that he and his family may have been visited by aliens during a secluded winter vacation. Communion is a highly visual affair; Strieber cannot decide if what he’s seeing are just hallucinations and dreams, or if the entities are the real deal. Once Strieber finally seeks help from professionals, his involvement in the ordeal begs the question: What do the beings want?
The book, which presents Strieber’s musings on the subject of his alien experiences, was published in 1987. Within its pages are Strieber’s discussions and hypnotic sessions with a well-known UFO researcher named Budd Hopkins, Strieber’s own recollections of possibly earlier otherworldly encounters, and contemplation about the spiritual nature of the alien beings. Communion takes some liberties with the subject matter, but seeing it for yourself is still a prerequisite for those interested in remarkable phenomena.
2. Intruders (1992)
This television miniseries based on Budd Hopkins’ 1987 book Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods plays upon the audience’s fear of home invasions, but takes it to a whole new level when Lesley Hahn, played by Daphne Ashbrook, begins to believe the invaders may not have been human. Also experiencing similar paranormal activity is Mary Wilkes, played by Mare Winningham. Both Hahn and Wilkes seek solid answers for the causes of their trauma, and that’s where psychiatrist Dr. Neil Chase, played by Richard Crenna, believes he can help.
Moving at a slower pace, Intruders gives us some insight into the psychological effects of alien abduction, considering both the people who are directly involved in the encounter and those who are close to the abductee. Although quite different from its source material in some regards, Intruders respectfully keeps the thoughts and feelings of the abductees at the center of attention, and similar to the book, reinforces the idea that perhaps many scientific studies should be initiated to question the reasons behind alien abductions and their dire intentions for mankind.
3. Fire in the Sky (1993)
Travis Walton’s documented experiences in his 1978 book The Walton Experience served as Fire in the Sky’s basis, which is different from other alien abduction films in that its plot revolves around the lives of Walton’s friends and co-workers, who were present at his abduction in the woods of Northeastern Arizona, and were blamed for his disappearance. Walton’s friend, Mike Rogers, played by Robert Patrick, leads Fire in the Sky’s dramatic story of a few men who witnessed something they could not explain, and yet were the only ones who could potentially make the world believe in the unbelievable.
An important aspect to note is that Fire in the Sky’s depiction of Walton’s experience inside the alien spacecraft, which was altered at the studio’s request, is vastly different from his own description in The Walton Experience. That being said, Fire in the Sky is not a pure representation of the book’s content, but there is so much detail in Walton’s second book on the subject, Fire in the Sky: The Walton Experience, published in 1996, that any single film adaptation could probably never do the controversial case any justice.
Perhaps being able to truly believe in something as extraordinary as alien contact with human beings requires more than just a viewing of a supposedly fact-based movie. It’s essential that these stories are told through multiple forms of media, as they will reach a wider audience and give more people the chance to learn about a world of mystery beyond their own. If nothing else, these alien abduction films and books will remain a cornerstone of paranormal culture, and will hopefully inspire others to share their own unexplainable experiences.