Remembering Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

Posted in found footage, Genres, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by Paxton

I’m a fan of the found footage genre. The genre gets a lot of sh*t from people, but honestly, I think some of these movies are scarier than the “splatter” or “serial killer” movies that are currently released. Anyway, I’m prepping for an appearance on the awesome podcast, The Bloke Show, in which we are going to discuss found footage films so I was trying to think of the first examples of found footage movies I remember seeing. Obviously, Blair Witch Project popped in my head first, but that wasn’t it. I remember seeing something else first.  I have a vivid memory of it, especially the ending.  But I’ll get to that.

In January 1998, the UPN Network aired the special presentation; Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.

Alien_Abduction00 Alien_Abduction01

I don’t remember how or why I watched it, but I did. It was presented very similarly as the Alien Autopsy footage, ie it was promoted as being real.  I know we get things like this all the time now, but in 1998, this was, if not unheard of, it was not common.

One thing I want to say to put this in context.  This special is, for lack of a better word, “trope-y”.  It has all the hallmarks of found footage and cheesy horror movies.  However, many of the found footage tropes hadn’t really been established at this time.  This special aired over a year before The Blair Witch Project was released in theaters.  In actuality, the special was a remake of an independent movie called UFO Abduction from 1989.  So in a sense, it was creating a lot of these tropes we now find so prevalent.  And the special created a sort of sensation and controversy when it aired because many people didn’t get that it was fiction. There really was no context for something like this before.  So, just keep that in mind as we go through it.

So, I was recently able to watch this thing again and I simply have to talk about it.  The beginning of the special had several talking head “experts” discuss what you are about to see.

Alien_Abduction03 Alien_Abduction04

Experts like the uber cool, black shirted video EFX editor who, while sitting next to a powered down computer monitor, explains that the things you’ll see in the upcoming video couldn’t be done with the consumer video technology available (well of course not, UPN created the effects). And the “former government agent” who can’t be shown on camera because of the stuff he’s “seen”.  I love how they actually give him a fake name, “Al James”.  Why?

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UPN also brought in a nuclear physicist awesomely named Stanton Friedman to help explain “electromagnetic interference” for whenever the footage gets all static-y or to explain to us how this footage is the most important scientific discovery of the millennium (which hadn’t actually happened yet).  Or the “certified” hypnotherapist to explain what everyone is “feeling” during the video.  Lots of heavy hitters in this segment.  To balance out these experts who are clearly actors we have actual alien abductees discuss their experiences as well in sequences which are even more staged and less believable than the “experts”.

So, the footage is setup by these experts.  A young man named Tommy McPherson is filming Thanksgiving dinner with his new video camera.

Alien_Abduction15

It starts off with normal family stuff. Lots of goofing off and bickering. Really boring as balls. I don’t want you to seek this out and waste your time watching it so I’m going to show you the good parts. The alien parts. And then the ending which for some reason had a big impact on me. So, to begin, the power goes out in the McPherson house. Some of “the men” go out to check the fuse box and see a giant explosion in the distance. Of course, they go check it out and find, in the distance, an alien ship. And a few aliens come out of the ship.  The guys keep far back from the action so Tommy has to zoom in on the aliens with his camera.

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The aliens spot the guys in the distance and shoot a “laser” towards them. I created an animated GIF for you to see that this incident looks just as ridiculous in the footage as it sounds when I describe it. Below is what it looked like in the “footage”.  The alien is blasting the cow on the ground with a laser, stops, looks up at the camera and shoots it WAY to the left of the camera.  And, of course, the footage is replete with static from “electromagnetism” (Thanks, Stanton).

Alien_Abduction_laser

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Nerd Lunch Episode 141: What Ever Happened To…

Posted in movies, nostalgia, podcast, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , on July 22, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

On this week’s episode of Nerd Lunch Jeeg is hosting and we are again joined by Matt Ringler from the Schlock Treatment podcast. Matt is with us to participate in a scavenger hunt. And there is only one thing on our list: celebrities.

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We all pick a celebrity that we’ve ever wondered, “What the hell happened to that guy?” and we find out what happened to that guy. Fairly simple premise and it turns into a very funny show.  Listen up and be entertained.  As always.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner.  Or listen to it online right here.

Nerd Lunch Episode 140: Video Arcades

Posted in podcast, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on July 14, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week we are down a CT so Jeeg and I invited our good friend and my Cult Film Club co-host Shawn Robare to sit in CT’s chair as his fill-in. With Shawn in place we got The Retroist to come back for his third appearance on the show. #HatTrick

Mr Do(Via arcade-museum.com)

With the Retroist on board we are discussing video arcades.  We talk about our first experiences with arcades, we talk about our favorite arcade games, we even have lively discussions on Showbiz Pizza Place and the controversy surrounding Dig Dug and Mr Do!  It’s a pretty fun discussion, won’t you join us?

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner. Or listen to it online right here.

My High Fantasy Month 2014 wrap up

Posted in books with tags , , , on July 3, 2014 by Paxton

If you’ve been listening to my Nerd-to-Dos on Nerd Lunch the last month or so then you know I’ve been in the middle of what I was calling High Fantasy Month.

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The idea for this is that for an entire month I would read a bunch of “sword and sorcery” books. High fantasy is not really a genre I read. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. So there’s several popular and famous series I’ve never tackled like The Wheel of Time, The Sword of Shannara and the Sword of Truth.  I’ve read a few, most notably Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley and The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, but as a whole, I just don’t really dip into the kings and knights sagas very often.

Well, I happened upon a pretty cheap copy of Sword of Shannara at a library sale so I thought, why don’t I make a fantasy reading marathon out of this? So I gathered a few other fantasy books I had lying around my TBR pile and made a reading schedule and started reading the first book on May 19. As of this week, I think I’m ending the first iteration of High Fantasy Month. I’ll do it again, but I want to move on to another genre. I don’t normally stick with one genre like this for so many books and I think I’m getting genre weary. I’m ready to read an action or sci-fi book now.

Here are some quick reviews of the high fantasy books I read this time out.


The First Book of Swords (1983) – Fred Saberhagen – I actually have all three of the original books in one giant omnibus edition.  But I only read the first book.  It’s good.  Saberhagen is a really good genre writer and he’s created a fascinating world with this series.  I’d definitely continue the story about 12 swords created by the god Vulcan and passed out to mortals.  Each sword has a different, terrific power.  The swords become lost for years but are eventually discovered and some unsavory characters do everything they can to get their hands on all 12 swords.  I’ve reviewed two of Saberhagen’s other books before, one was a sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and one was a sequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.


Born to Exile (1977) – Phyllis Eisenstein – Book 1 in the Tales of Alaric the minstrel.  I discovered this book while reading about inspirations for Steven Gould’s Jumper books (click the link and check out the See Also section on Wikipedia). The book is about a traveling minstrel who discovers he has the ability to teleport.  It’s an interesting book in that Alaric is really the only consistent thread throughout the story which features essentially Alaric in a series of vignettes where he tries to not use his power, winds up using it, and then gets banned (or exiled) for using it.  It’s a fun light read that I really enjoyed.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 138: Drill Down: Star Trek the Motion Picture

Posted in movies, podcast, pop culture, Star Trek with tags , , , , on July 2, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

For this episode of Nerd Lunch we return to our Drill Downs on the Star Trek movie franchise.  Back in episode 06 we looked at Generations and First Contact.  Then in episode 46 we looked at Insurrection and Nemesis.  Today, we go back to the beginning and watch the very first Star Trek movie, The Motion Picture.

ST: TMP poster

We talk about our first experiences with this movie, we talked about what we liked and didn’t like. We discuss the endless naval gazing, giant sphincters and terrycloth uniforms.  And we ponder the place this movie has in the pantheon of other Star Trek films.  It’s a good discussion on the first movie.  Come join us.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner.  Or listen to it online right here.

The Shadow starring Alec Baldwin turns 20 years old today

Posted in movies, pop culture with tags , , on July 1, 2014 by Paxton

The Shadow

Today marks the 20 year anniversary for Russell Mulcahy’s The Shadow starring Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller and John Lone. I saw it in the theater and it has been one of my favorite movies ever since.  We recently discussed this movie on Episode 15 of the Cult Film Club.  We also listed out 30 of the things we love about The Shadow right here.

Shadow newspaper ad

Here’s what the newspaper ad for this movie looked like when it premiered on July 1, 1994.

I’ve been quietly collecting and picking up memorabilia from this movie over the last few years.

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Like many movies of the time, The Shadow received an official movie magazine which featured articles interviewing the cast and crew and talking about the character of The Shadow.

Shadow novel

It would also receive a novelization written by genre superstar James Luceno.

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12 Completely insane Polish posters for American movies

Posted in movies, pop culture with tags , , , on June 25, 2014 by Paxton

Holy crap. I think Poland needs a therapist, Stat!

ET (Via cinemaposter.com)
E.T. – E.T. looks totally high in this poster. “My finger lights up! Heh, heh, heh! I could totally nosh on some Reese’s Pieces right now, dude.”

Weekend at Bernie's(via cinemaposter.com)
Weekend at Bernie’s – This is a poster for the Human Centipede version of Weekend at Bernie’s.  WTF, Poland?!

Alien(via cinemaposter.com)
Alien – I don’t know what movie the Polish watched, but DAMN.

Raiders of the Lost Ark(via polishposter.com)
Raiders of the Lost Ark – Dude, that one part in Raiders where the tentacle crawled through the human skull with saber-tooth fangs totally terrified me when I was a kid. Remember that? No? Was that just me?

Enter the Dragon(via polishposter.com)
Enter the Dragon – Are we sure this isn’t a sequel to The Crow?  Or a documentary about The Cure?

Neverending Story(via wellmedicated.com)
The Neverending Story – It looks like a 5 year old with crippling ADHD drew this poster.  Is that supposed to be Falcor?  And Bastian?  The Hell?!

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