Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ Category

One of the oldest tricks of horror movies is to pass them off as true stories. Texas Chainsaw Massacre did it, as did Amytiville Horror, Blair Witch, and last fall’s Paranormal Activity.  Also out last autumn was The Fourth Kind, an alien abduction thriller. (The Fourth Kind is UFO code for abductions.) It just came to Korea and I just came out of the theater where I watched it. Let’s begin.

It opens with actress Milla Jovovich talking to the audience, informing us she is portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist who investigated sleep disorders in Nome Alaska. According to her, we are about to watch a dramatization of events in the year 2000, with accompanying archival footage, and some of the names have been changed for privacy. In a nod to 1931’s Frankenstein, we are warned that what we are about to see is disturbing.

The tale starts with Abigail’s own hypnosis, trying to recall the night her husband died. (He also worked with Abby on studying the disorders)Apparently an intruder stabbed him in the chest in the middle of the night, and Abigail can’t remember the intruder’s face. Also her young daughter Ashley is somehow blind after this event (which adds little if anything to the story) and pre-teen son Ronnie is resentful of his mom.

Meanwhile the narrative as a whole is being told by the real Dr. Tyler, who is being interviewed on camera at Chapman University. The whole time archival footage of hypnosis sessions is interspursed with the dramatization. This seemed redundant and (pretend this is true) changing character names doesn’t mean much if you SHOW THEIR ACTUAL SESSIONS SO THE WHOLE WORLD CAN SEE WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.

But I digress. Abby interviews her clients, and with some nice camera work we see they all tell the same tale, around 3am they wake up and see an owl with big eyes staring at them. (We get some nice ominous owl shots too.) One patient agrees to hypnosis and realizes he doesn’t really see an owl. Coming out of the trance, he won’t say what it is and goes home.

Later that night, he snaps and kills his family and himself. The alleged police footage is shown, which if this really happened, I don’t think it’d ever be shown in a movie.

Will Patton plays the local sheriff who comes down hard on Dr. Tyler wanting to know what’s going on. Abby talks to herself about the case on a tape recorder before going to sleep, leading to the scariest part of the movie.

But first a colleague and friend Dr. Campos watches another hypnosis with similar frightening results. Up till now there’s no alien talk. After the client leaves Abby brings up abductions, which leads to some clunky dialogue about how 11 million people saw UFOs since 19-something and how it really could be just swamp gas. (Hey idiots, were not talking about lights in the sky, we’re talking about abductions)

Anyway the tape. We hear Abby talking about the case from that previous scene, then she falls asleep and the tape continues. Suddenly we hear Abby screaming and shrieking in terror, and a creepy non human voice talking some gibberish. Dr. Tyler ends up contacting a specialist on ancient languages and learns that ancient Sumerian is being spoken on the tape.  Next is an oddly shot scene where we get a lecture about how the Noah flood story was borrowed from Sumerian tales, (which is relevant how?????) and ancient sumerian artifacts that were told look like men in oxygen masks, even though they don’t look like that at all.

Anyway she ends up going to her last patients house as he’s distraught and another tape session begins. The patient starts screaming and actually levitates on the bed. Okay we’re watching an alien movie not the Exorcist.

Next her daughter gets abducted one night, and not returned. The Sheriff isn’t hearing any of it. With no where else to turn her friend hypnotises her to try to recall her abduction from a few nights before. The Sumerian scholar video tapes it.

What occurs next could have been the absolute scariest thing I’ve ever seen on film if not for the GAPING PLOT HOLE THE SIZE OF A FLYING SAUCER.

With the accompanying screams of terror preceded by seeing and owl and “Oh my god it’s not an owl” she actually channels the creepy Sumerian voice. 

Now remember, she’s recalling an abduction event that was BEFORE her daughter was missing, and during THIS abduction, she asks for her daughter back.

The creepy Sumerian voice responds, (and we get the translation on screen) “CHILD…… NEVER….. MY….. WILL…. BE….. DONE….. I…. AM………… GOD……” which would have been absolutly totally horrfying if not for that dam plot hole.  An evil sadistic creepy god angle takes some real cinematic balls to pull off.

Then there’s screaming from all three people and the camera goes fuzzy before landing in the sideways on the floor angle (end of Blair Witch) as apparently all three have just been abducted.

Abby wakes up in the hospital. The sherrif and Dr. Campos (who either doesn’t remember anything or denies it, ????) are present. The Sheriff makes a revelation that makes no sense. Dr. Tyler’s husband actually shot himself, just as her patient did. How she thought he was stabbed when he in fact was shot is truly an unexplained phenomenon.

We end with the allegedly real Dr. Tyler (I wonder who played her) who we now see is in a wheelchair. She tells us that she doesn’t in fact think these creatures are gods, but “it could pretend to be.” Way to ruin that awful helpless horrifying feeling for us. (She’s religious as we see her pray before meals) Finally our heart strings are tugged as we get cute daughter pictures and the frail emotionally unwound Abigail talking about how she needs to keep hope alive. She has to believe her daughter is still alive.

Before the credits there’s text revealing what happened to all these fictitious characters after the made up events of the movie. The credits roll to various audio clips (with text telling us when and where they were recorded) of people reporting UFOs. That was pretty neat. The last two clips are perfect. First, a young girl talks about how her little brother tells her parents to lock all the doors because the spacemen are coming to take him, and that a star follows him around. Last is an adult talking about abduction, saying, “What if they come back.”

This story tried to hard to convince you it was real. Big words “ACTUAL FOOTAGE” etc fill the screen. Perhaps a different approach was in order. Maybe this should have been a straight dramitization, perhaps with just a tiny bit of archive footage. Either that or make it straight up Blair Witch documentary style like.

For the curious check out Dr, Tyler isn’t real.

If I were to rate the first hour of this movie, I’d honestly give it a 9 out of 10. The performances were really good from everyone. I liked the sheriff a lot. Most of the camera work conveyed the suspense and creepiness well, and this movie SOUNDS really scary. Sound is so important to horror. Remember Halloween? It’s also very smart not to actually show big eyed aliens, the closest we get are shadows. There is a good creepy UFO shot in the archival footage though.

Unfortunately the gaping plothole and nonsensical elements at the end, along with the other things I mentioned really aggrivated me. I haven’t been this mad at a movie in 3 years. But it’s not 2007 “this sucks” anger, it’s disapointment. Watching The Fourth Kind is like watching a potential honor student fail an exam. This could have been the absolute scariest thing I’ve ever seen. 6/10.

P.S. For why the Abduction Phenomenon is not real, click here


As soon as the 90s started, conspiracy was all the rage. It arguably began in 1991 with Oliver Stone’s JFK, about the alleged conspiracy to kill Kennedy. That same year, the TV show Sightings featured “investigative reports” on paranormal activity. Two years later was The X-Files, the TV Drama that ran through the decade, about alien abductions and government conspiracies.

UFO and abduction tales were nothing new, Whitley Streiber published his encounters with big eyed creatures in 1987’s Communion. The first book about Roswell, the great UFO story of our day, came out in 1980. By the 90s the phenomenon was in fool force.  Books were published, and daytime talkshows were filled with alleged abductees, not just your fly by night hosts either. I remember none other that Oprah Winfrey had an episode about it, complete with an author who studied the phenomenon, and concluded it was real. As a kid these stories freaked me out. At night I’d wonder if big eyed creatures would come in my room and anal probe me!

A few years back I noticed the phenomeon sort of went away, from the mainstream anyway. I wondered what that said for it’s validity. Since the 90s I learned that in the 1950s there was a contactee fad. People claimed they rode UFO’s to Venus and stuff like that, sounds silly looking back on it.

Anyway I just finished “The Abduction Enigma: The Truth Behind the Mass Alien Abductions of the Late Twentieth Century.” It was written by Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes, and William P. Cone, Ph.D, and published in 1999, interestingly enough.

Without rehasing the entire book let me sum up the main points. Abduction tales are like modern day folklore, stories that evolve and change over time, but are spread faster than older folklore due to the mass media. Stories similar to alien abduction can be found in history involving mythological monsters, demons, witches, and fairies. (Of course Streiber notes fairies himself in Communion, hinting it could have been aliens all along).

In the last century science fiction stories have fed us with big eyed alien abduction stories, several movies are noted. If you look at the early abduction tales like Betty and Barney Hill, the descriptions of the aliens don’t totally match the “Greys” we know today. Their appearance has evolved, if you will.

We also know from harrowing child abuse cases that repressed memories are not reliable, niether are hypnosis techniques used to recover them. (Hypnosis is more reliable for relaxation and treatment for addiction) More unsettling is that abduction stories can be fed to a patient by the therapist, through the use of leading questions. (Similar to how alleged psychics do “Cold Readings.”) More reinforcement comes from paranormal media and UFO support groups. Sleep paralysis also plays a role in not being able to move and seeing strange things in your room.

The authors do not suggest therapists deliberately trick patients, but that sometimes in the mental health field people are desperate to find answers to help their sick patients. So they unintentionally give in to the latest pop psych trend.

There’s no physical evidence of abductions. Abductee claims of implants are just scar tissue and things like that. Small scars/marks on the body are not conclusive. We all can find strange marks on our body if we really look.

Finally, a logical look at the general abduction tale. Creatures who have mastered interstellar travel abduct humans to repeatedly do the same experiments, and erase memories of the experience. Yet primitive mankind today can do tons of genetic research with but a few small genetic samples, and a weekend course in hypnotherapy can un-erase abduction memories. Also, many abductions have a high sexual component, which is often under-reported. Why would aliens abduct women, implant them with an alien fetus, and send them back to earth where they could fall down the steps or get hit by a car and die and lose the fetus. Why not take a man to bang a hot alien chic. Greys, you know where I live.

(Consequently a true laugh out loud moment is on page 97.

As she lay there, immobile on the table, one of the five foot aliens mounted her, looked deep in her eyes, and what she heard him say was, “What you need is a good f#*k!”)

Though very interesting the book isn’t put together well. There’s a few grammar/spelling mistakes, and after presenting all the arguments, gives us 100 pages plus detailing individual UFO researchers and why they’re wrong. I found that tedious. There’s also a strong lead in early on to Satanic Ritual Abuse, an extremely similar phenomenon, but it’s not followed up on until later. Most confusing is the introduction, where two of the three authors say they do in fact believe in the phenomenon. Estes says on p 18, “If asked the question, do I believe in alien contact? I would respond with a simple “Yes.””

Randle follows up on p22, “I  believe that UFO’s represent, in rare cases, alien visitation…I believe, based on some very compelling evidence, and on some testimony from some very credible sources, that there has been extraterrestrial visitation.”

That confused the greys out of me. I re-read it several times, second guessing myself, but that’s what it says.

When I was real little there was this Buick commercial where a big bird would screech on the screen. I remember a dream I had as a young child where I was laying in my bed at night, and I heard “Jimmy.” I looked up and saw the Buick bird looking at me, and it screeched “Raaahhh.” If the wrong person got a hold of me at the time, they might have convinced my mom I’d been molested. Ten years later they might have convinced me that my dream was a screen for a memory of alien abduction. In it’s own way, either outcome is scarier than what may lurk in the night sky.