U.F.O. Abduction (1989)

Directed by Dean Alioto

A pair of title cards allege “The uncut video footage [we] are about to see contains the most important evidence yet made public regarding [the UFO] phenomenon… On the evening of October 8, 1983, a young man was videotaping his niece’s fifth birthday party. As the night’s strange occurrences took place, he kept his video camera running, recording the entire event.”

The young man in question is sixteen-year-old Mike Van Heese (director Alioto). His footage begins at the dinner table where he, his two older brothers, their girlfriends, his mom and the five-year-old niece alluded to in the titles appear to have just finished eating. Cake is brought in, the birthday girl blows on her candles, and out cuts the power.

While checking their fuse box, the brothers Van Heese see a blinding red light by the ol’ Johnson house. “Let’s go check it out.” one suggests.

So they do, stumbling upon a very grainy something or other you probably won’t be able to make out that’s instantly recognized as a UFO by the two eldest brothers. “Bullshit. It’s no spaceship.” Mike concludes from a safe distance. Then, comically backpedaling, “Holy shit, guys. I’m zoomed in. It’s a spaceship!” The understandably astonished earthlings gawk as a trio of textbook Grey-looking creatures emerge from the craft and converse with each other. Realizing they’ve probably been seen, the brothers Van Heese book it back to their homestead.

“We saw some Martian, or shit, or something.” Mike articulates in a panic. “There were three little guys that came out… I have it on tape. I recorded the whole damn thing!”

So the men grab their guns, but the women — pffff, women — dismiss their wild claims, demanding the family unit resume its birthday festivities. “I don’t even want to talk about it.” Mama Van Heese proclaims authoritatively.

Since no male or group of males has ever successfully argued against the opposing sex in the history of upright, walking hominids, our hero-dudes grudgingly sit down to eat cake and do their best to ignore the surreal scene they stumbled into, hoping whoever or whatever they saw will just, you know, leave them alone and go bye-bye.

Nope. Things get a whole lot worse. Each of the characters’ wristwatches stop at the same exact time, niece Michelle draws a picture of an alien she claims to have seen through a window, and footsteps are heard on the roof. Will the Van Heesesesisiss make it ’til sunrise, or, will there be an Abduction?

U.F.O. Abduction is a found footage flick that predates The Blair Witch Project by ten years. I first read about it over at Lost Media Wiki (which, while awesome in theory, needs to be cleaned up — especially considering its definition of “lost” is something not freely available on video-sharing or torrent sites).

Whenever I hear the term “found footage”, I think of the relatively recent shift in sci-fi and horror toward shaky, first-person camerawork that came about with such blockbuster hits as 2007’s REC, the same year’s Paranormal Activity, and 2008’s Cloverfield. Though most fans would be more than capable of constructing a timeline tracing the subgenre’s roots back to The Blair Witch Project, or even further to 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust, few, if any, would know to include this.

Ten years before those three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, an unknown director with an 8mm video camera, $6,500 and a small group of improve actors threw together a film that 1) drew up the blueprint for the modern day found footage flick, 2) embroiled the UFO community in a controversy that continues to this day.

As legend has it, this bad boy was barely distributed, for only a handful of sample copies were mailed out to a handful of video stores before its distributor burned down to the ground. At some point thereafter, a copy deliberately edited to remove its titles and credits made its way to the UFO community, where — taking into account the film’s groundbreaking home video/found footage format, low resolution, convincing improve acting and lack of distribution — it was perceived to be the real deal, footage of an actual occurrence, footage confirming not only the existence of extraterrestrials, but highly aggressive, break into your house and abduct you extraterrestrials. Erroneously dubbed The McPherson Tape, that very edit would feature prominently at the 1993 International UFO Congress Convention.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, if it weren’t for this rarity’s criminally-80s title sequence and end credits, I could see how an underground circle of Mulder-types would have made the mistake.

UFO Abduction titleStrangely, despite the director himself providing an in-depth clarification to badmovieplanet.com (found here shit, broken link), rumors persist to this day of the so-called McPherson Tape’s authenticity. A large number of YouTubers and forum posters steadfastly defend the footage, citing its actors’ reactions as “too real” to be fake, even going so far (in some cases) as to accuse the naysayers and nonbelievers of being paid (by the government, I’ll assume) to manipulate the public’s opinion. Now that’s dedication. But hey, I’m a staunch supporter of the million-times-debunked Patterson-Gimlin film. I get it.

Sometimes, you’ve gotta believe.

Mulder MemeSo yeah. Whether you take the darned thing at face value or not, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, turn off your lights, huddle up to your laptop, and concede, if only for an hour, that ETs may possibly exist, you’re in for a gripping (if slightly cheesy) good time. I recommend this to fans of the paranormal and/or obscure, fans of no-budget cinema, as well as those with an interest in how a seemingly insignificant work of fiction can shape the world around it.

Both the director’s last name and the word “alien” start with the letters A-L-I. Coincidence? I think not.

A Joan Merrill appears in the credits. M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, also involving aliens, features a character named Merrill. Coincidence? Let’s not kid ourselves.

Take a swig of Absinthe every time the cameraman says, “Aww shit.” If you live, you might be an alien.

The Verdict
Dailymotion it. Part 1 of 2 is below.

Communion (1989)
the remake: Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
Signs (2002)


2 Responses to “U.F.O. Abduction (1989)”

  1. “I first read about it over at Lost Media Wiki (which, while awesome in theory, needs to be cleaned up — especially considering its definition of “lost” is something not freely available on video-sharing or torrent sites).”

    Thanks for the shout out 🙂

    You’re absolutely right about the site needing cleaning up; I’d happily be the first to admit that it has become a total mess, however, as I am currently moving the site in its entirety (to a new host, lostmediawiki.com), I am concurrently taking up the task of cleaning up all the articles (and their formatting as well) one by one, as I move them, so, that IS being worked on, for the record.

    Although, what you said about our definition of “lost” is totally untrue. We count anything as being lost if it is inaccessible to the average reader; ie. not commercially (or freely) available in any form, (counting torrent trackers, but not exclusively). If something is, say, available for viewing, but only at a particular location, then we also count that as lost, as most people cannot afford to travel to said location, (especially if it’s overseas). We do make one exception in terms of commercial availability in that if something is very rare and, hence, very rarely shows up for sale from collectors and such, (which *technically*, would make it commercially available), we still count it as “lost”. Hope that has cleared things up a bit.

    All the best,


    • Thanks for taking the time to comment and clarify all that. Discussion is always welcome.

      Looking forward to whatever innovations, new content or finds are brought about by the move. I’ll be sure to give it a gander sometime soon!


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