Friday, January 10, 2020

Memory, Blog: Before The Blair Witch Project There Was UFO Abduction

In a previous post, I wrote about the fateful night I came across Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County on a TV station I did not frequent: UPN.

In that article, I dropped the "shocking" revelation that the film was a television production by filmmaker Dean Alioto and not a real alien abduction, but I also mentioned this wasn't Mr. Alioto's first brush with this sort of conspiracy.

Rewind to 1989 and Dean Alioto's first film foray, UFO Abduction.

This is where the plot really thickens, like a good pot of Kraft Dinner.

You see, Dean Alioto wanted to make a small indie film in the late '80s and decided on the hot topic of alien visitation. The story is told through a perspective of one character, who is recording a family event with a camcorder. Although it was released almost a decade after Cannibal Holocaust, the film predates The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast by ten years, as well. In a way, it's like the grand daddy of the Found Footage genre (I guess that makes Cannibal Holocaust the great grandpa). That said, UFO Abduction doesn't really stack up on the quality front.

This is a very small budget movie. Shot entirely on a VHS camcorder in essentially one location, the film's run-time is a little over an hour.

Tell me if you recognize this setup: A man decides to videotape his niece's 5th birthday party with the whole family. During the dinner the power goes out and when the cause is investigated it's found that a UFO and aliens have landed near the family home. The film documents the family's last moments as they are attacked by visitors not of this world and eventually abducted.

Yeah, Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County is a remake!

Here's the crazy part: There is a huge contingent of people out there who believe that UFO Abduction is the real deal and not a staged event and that the UPN remake/special is all part of a clever cover-up. There was even a segment on Encounters, the Fox paranormal "news" show (we'll get to it eventually), which featured UFO Abduction in a segment about hoaxes. From what I can tell the producers of Encounters certainly didn't think the tape was authentic, but they interviewed several individuals who did believe in it.

Now, the moment you start watching UPN's Alien Abduction you get the vibe that you're watching actors. The set looks pretty authentic, but the special effects and the wooden acting make it a dead-ringer for a film production. Although UFO Abduction is on a smaller scale, you can tell these people are actors pretty much right away, too.

And the special effects are basically a laser pointer. No cats on the set, please!

You don't get a really great or clear look at the aliens in the TV cut of Alien Abduction, but you get some pretty good looks at them in UFO Abduction and you can clearly tell they're kids in black jumpsuits with expensive alien gloves and masks on. In fact, Dean Alioto has even shared production photos from the set showing the children that made up the "alien" threat in his film. That's not enough to deter the believers, however.

All that conspiracy stuff aside, UFO Abduction isn't nearly as good as Alien Abduction, which I'm aware isn't saying much. It's mostly just people running around screaming in a poorly lit house. The set design on the UFO is pretty good, but they definitely took it to a new level when they did the remake. I didn't get near the chills watching the original movie as I did from the TV show.

That said, it's an interesting film in that it predates The Blair Witch Project and most of the Found Footage genre, so fans of those types of movies might want to check it out. Director Dean Alioto has DVDs available on his website for $20 USD and a Digital option for $15, which is much more cost effective than trying to track down one of the original VHS copies of this film that were sold around UFO conventions in the early 90s. You can also search it out online for pirated uploads, but the quality is abysmal. Up to you!

Another cool tidbit: Dean Alioto started a YouTube channel a few years back and from what I can tell he's trying to fund another film in his Alien Abduction trilogy, which would essentially be another remake of the same story. His Patreon launched over a year ago, though, and things aren't looking good. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Well that's enough about UFO Abduction in all its incarnations. It's time to move onto some cooler paranormal TV shows in this walk down memory lane, but it I thought it was important to cover all the bases on this one.

Hope you enjoyed!