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Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

(You can also check out our video review of this film.)

People are bugfuck stupid. Don't believe me? Find some people. Wait until one opens his stupid face hole and hang on to the nearest well-rooted object as the forthcoming deluge of half-baked, venal tripe that issues forth threatens to wash you right off the face of the earth.

This unapologetic expression of vitriol is directed towards the masses of humanity who, for whatever personal reason, are bound and determined to believe in damn near everything that pours into the pitifully underused lump of smooth gray sponge cake between their ears, with the sole exception of facts. It's the sheer preponderance of this type of individual that leads to such reactions as were received by the TV-movie Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, which was broadcast on UPN. A Blair Witch Project-esque film (that actually came out a year before that film) which depicts a rural family being attacked by aliens in their own home, Alien Abduction's first broadcast was followed by an invitation for the viewer to visit the UPN website and voice their opinions about the veracity of the video. The great majority swallowed it whole, and UPN subsequently broadcast it with "additional, recently recovered footage" in order to milk the cash cow that much drier. I missed its actual airing, but was sent a copy by a friend who thought I might find it funny. She was correct.

A brief summary: The McPherson family has supposedly gone missing, the only clue to their disappearance being the videotape of their Thanksgiving dinner found in the house. The tape shows the family preparing for dinner when a power transformer shorts out on a nearby pole, which leads to the discovery of an apparent UFO in the backyard. Two stereotypical Communion/Close Encounters-style aliens are seen using lasers to cut up a cow (which is not seen,) and various wacky things ensue. The car's engine gets fried, the family shoots at aliens that get inside the house, spooky nosebleeds occur and red marks appear on people's necks; a ball of white light that totally fails to illuminate anything flies around the room, people start disappearing, yadda yadda. Amongst the snatches of videotape we have various "experts" commenting on the proceedings, including a child psychologist who explains away the youngest child's poor acting chops by saying she appears "possessed," owing to his presumably many years of experience in dealing with possessed children. I was laughing through pretty much the whole damn thing, and had decided partway through to make my own film to debunk theirs. This turned out to be unnecessary, but I'll take this one step at a time.

The fakery was obvious from the very get-go. Having made plenty of fake sci-fi film crap myself, I found it remarkably easy to spot what was really happening. The supposedly unbroken pan across the lawn to the model UFO contains a jump-cut which is very visible in frame-by-frame viewing, used to hide the fact that they' ve suddenly panned onto a small-scale miniature. There's no fog outside in these early exteriors, but suddenly it becomes densely foggy as the two aliens are spied cutting up a completely invisible cow with their lasers. Reason? Lasers don't have a visible beam when there's no fog for the beam to illuminate. Damn convenient for the atmospheric conditions to accomodate more dramatic-looking images. The video has constant intrusions of static which is obviously superimposed later, as it never distorts the actual images on the tape. Also extremely convenient is the fact that the static tends to come in strongest right before any special effects scene. Why? Because take one of the smoke bomb under the car hood probably failed, for example, and they had to hide the edit where they cut to take two. This pattern repeats constantly throughout the film. The video has the occasional sound bridge, i.e. the sound continues unbroken even when the camera changes angles, which means it went through post-production, and was not found footage. These sudden angle changes don't seem to affect the clock in the corner of the picture either; twice it still clocks a full minute across a cut where the camera was apparently turned off and repositioned, meaning the clock was added after the fact (it's a built-in filter of the Adobe Premiere editing program.) The light ball is by far the worst giveaway; aside from the fact that it casts no light and makes no shadows, it's painfully obvious that it's simply the Adobe Premiere lens flare filter, another built-in effect of the program clearly used to edit the video. Also, this supposedly single tape somehow was recording for six hours, and even if your camcorder could record in SLP mode, I doubt the existence of a camera battery that would last six hours almost as much as I doubt alien visitors.

Clearly, the legions of Americans who joyfully swallow everything stupid they're told is true didn't apply any critical examination to this patently obvious hoax whatsoever, but even more disappointing is the fact that they apparently couldn't read, either. My "debunking film" project was rendered completely unnecessary (though as you can see from the link atop this page, I ultimately did it anyway) when the end came, complete with credits for the whole "family" as well as the aliens. The testimonials were also provided by actors, (including the sheriff who supposedly found the tape) with the exceptions of Stanton Friedman, a well-known UFO believer, and Michael Shermer, president of the Skeptics Society and big-time debunker. Listening to their comments, it became pretty clear that neither of the two had seen the actual tape they were supposedly commenting upon. Suddenly, the whole thing was a grotesque disappointment. What had seemed an at least fairly impressive hoax for an actual family to pull off abruptly became a totally lame hoax pulled by a major corporation for the obvious purpose of making a buck off of credulous viewers. Words like "fraud" and...well, mostly just "fraud" came to mind rather quickly, especially since UPN had billed the whole kitty kabob as the real magoo in all their promos. Writer-director Dean Alioto later went on record saying that he had only ever intended it as a piece of entertainment (his original cut can be seen here), and had inserted disclaimers at each commercial break. UPN had removed those, cut the film down to an hour and added the testimonials afterwards. Swell buncha guys. Not only that, but almost all of the egregiously fake-looking crap-the bogus static, the inaccurate clock, the lens flare-were added by the geniuses at UPN, who also chopped out the most impressive and believeable special effect in the whole production.

If there's anything more inane than the initial audience reaction, though, it was the subsequent uproar from the community of fundamentalist UFO cultists who accused the film of being nothing short of a government tactic designed to discredit believers in actual alien abductions. This is very possibly the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard in a world filled to the bursting point with stupid fucking things. The bungholes who rant about the ubiquitous "cover-up" and then claim that this film was "an insult to their intelligence" fail to notice just how much they insult their own "intelligence" every time they attempt to make use of words. If the people in charge of our country can't even keep their marital indiscretions off the front page, they're hardly competent enough to keep decades' worth of alleged alien contact under wraps. These tend to be the same sorts of folks who ask the non-UFO believer the utterly irrelevant question "Don't you think there's life out there in the universe besides us?" as if disbelieving in rats with interstellar spacecraft equates to a disbelief in rats, period. If you're one of those folks, I hope this pisses you off. Think. It doesn't hurt, and it can be terribly useful.

The clearest indication of the mindlessness of the UFO dogmatist is that there is apparently nothing that they will accept as contrary evidence to their beliefs, a trait they share in common with fundamental religionists. Since falsifiability is a necessary prerequisite for any scientific theory, they cannot even hope to claim a scientific standpoint for their beliefs. If someday an alien spacecraft lands on my lawn and bug-eyed critters trundle out and say "ruhueri vrjvieur jvieurer jerjiorei!" then I'll accept that aliens are probably indeed visiting us. But if there's no evidence that you will accept as being a refutation of such alleged visits, you display a contemptible disregard for facts and rational thought that I have no intention of taking seriously. For my part, I would hope that if human astronauts ever land on a planet with intelligent life, they'll find something more productive to do than scare people in their sleep, endlessly probe their poop chutes and draw incomprehensible graffiti in their wheat. That's our tax dollars paying for that shit.

Next time you see a piece of video claiming to be proof of something extraordinary, give it more than a half-second's worth of thought before accepting it outright. Interstellar travel may be downright impossible. Lying is easy.

Oh, and as a movie, Alien Abduction ain't all that great. I can't imagine sitting all the way through the original ninety-two minute cut that the director initially created, honestly, but at least it wouldn't have been a blatant deception. Bastard corporations. They're all part of the conspiracy!!!!

-review by Matt Murray

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